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Electronics - All Hands on Tech!

By Mindy Toran

Once considered luxury items that few promotional products distributors could convince their clients to purchase on a regular basis, electronics are working their way into the mainstream as highly-sought-after, well-appreciated promotions. Today, more end-users than ever are seeking out electronic items as a way to promote a more tech-savvy image and provide recipients with something unique to remember them by.

“Electronics carry a very high perceived value, so their impact is strong,” says Joe Favre, vice president, preproduction, at New Products International Inc. (asi/73780). “In recent years, they’ve gained more mass appeal due to the emergence of such a wide range of choices and options, from user-friendly, low-tech items like calculators and clocks to very high-tech items loaded with features, such as digital cameras and computer accessories.”

End-users are looking for everything from clocks and watches to calendars and calculators, organizers, thermometers and pedometers, and other high-tech, low-cost items such as USB memory sticks and flash drives for laptop computers.

“Until recently, distributors felt high-tech, electronic products were not easily accessible or affordable to their clients,” says Doug Atkinson, vice president, corporate sales at The Sharper Image (asi/86620). “With a broader range of universally appealing, affordable retail products now available, there has been a greater acceptance of electronics as promotional items.

“Companies are looking to reward their best employees and valued customers,” he notes. “These items create attention, conversation and yield lasting impressions. We’re seeing more and more electronics being used as part of sales promotions, for year-end holiday gifts, customer loyalty programs and other business-related gifts.”

Adds Favre, “We see electronics being used a lot in employee incentive and recognition programs, as well as in quite a few employee merchandise programs. As for what people are purchasing, the electronics buyer is more discerning than in years past, with the saturation of the market, and our lives, with technology. More people know exactly what they’re looking for and are tuned in to the value of these items and pricing more than ever before.”

An Easier Sell
The fact that more end-users are tech-savvy and know exactly what they’re looking for makes these items far easier to sell. “Until recently,” says Favre, “a lot of product education was necessary prior to even land an order. People were afraid to try something new for fear that these products were too complicated. Today, we’re seeing much more savvy buyers and very specific requests as a result.”

The broad appeal of electronics allows these items to work well in practically any industry, including insurance, financial institutions, healthcare, travel-related industries, construction and, especially, high-tech companies.

“Electronics provide the recipient with something sexy, attractive and different,” says Solomon Hua, vice president of sales at Cosmo Fiber Corp. (asi/46755). “The industry is not flooded with these products, so they’re very appealing. In addition, these items have less wear and tear, so end-users tend to keep them for a longer period of time, as long as they’re in good working condition. As a result, your message stays in front of the recipient longer. Therefore, quality control is very important, since people are often willing to spend a little more for reliable products.”

User-friendly items with low price points and a high perceived value are a great way to break into the market. “Grab-and-go items like alarm clocks that are compact and easy to use, desk clocks and pop-up book lights are extremely popular. We also offer useful items such as USB memory sticks and memory card readers for laptop computers, which appeal to savvy business travelers,” says Hua.

“People are looking for versatile, easy-to-use, small items they can take with them on business trips or for meetings,” adds Kim Evers, national sales manager at Adimage Promotional Group (asi/31969). “End-users are looking for ways to save time and make their lives easier. They’re looking for technology-based items they can use with their laptops and PCs, such as a USB flash drive that provides additional storage space for laptop computers, or book lights that can be clipped onto their PC. These items are especially popular for sales reps, trade shows and internal corporate meetings. Many of these items come in fun, bright colors, are easy to use and highly appreciated.”

Utility Fits The Bill
The usefulness of electronics makes them particularly appealing as promotional items. “We had a very successful project for a distributor coordinating trade show gifts for a pharmaceutical client,” recalls Favre. “The end-recipients were attending a large-scale pharmaceutical show and were provided with digital cameras and voice recorders, allowing them to keep a running record of items of interest at the show. It was a very well-received promotion,” he says.

“Electronic items are fun, useful and multifunctional, which is why people think they’re so great,” says Jim Hagan, vice president of sales at Sweda Co. LLC (asi/90305). “Our original product line, and what the company was built around, was a solid electronic offering. Today, the core of our business and some of our best-selling items continue to fall into the electronics category, and include FM scanning radios, watches, calculators and pedometers used for counting steps, miles and calories burned. These items work well for a variety of markets, including the healthcare industry, sports, pharmaceutical companies and school/work recognition programs.”

Distributors looking to break into the electronics market need only try out a few products themselves to convince their clients to give them a shot. “It helps to start with products you’re familiar with,” says Hua. “For example, digital, desktop alarm clocks are easy to use, have a good price point and a high perceived value. You want to start with less pricey, user-friendly items to get your foot in the door, then work your way up to more high-tech items as clients begin to show more interest,” he suggests.

“We recommend that distributors work with branded merchandise, which greatly increases the perception of the promotional program,” says Atkinson. “The strength of the brand greatly increases the value of the gift or award and provides the presenter with more bang for the buck. In addition,” he says, “look for suppliers that provide full-service fulfillment operations, who can focus on everything from your imprinting to tracking of your order. Attention to detail and quality products will help make your promotion a success.”

COPYRIGHT © 2005 Advertising Specialties Institute, all rights reserved.
Mindy Toran

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