Promo Products in the Covid-19 Era

Remember last New Year’s Eve? We rang in this year with the highest hopes and expectations that it would be a great 365 366 days, filled with new adventures and excitement.

And so it appeared to start off. But very quickly the specter of coronavirus reared its ugly head, slamming on the brakes for all our plans.

It’s safe to say 2020 hasn’t gone the way any of us expected. Hundreds of thousands of our fellow Americas dead, and the economy in shambles. Businesses shut down, many forever.

The coronavirus has had a massive impact on the promotional products industry, and we at TJM Promos are no exception. Products that typically sell extensively in the spring dropped off the chart, while products we’ve never sold before jumped to the top of the most-wanted products list.

Based on the feedback we’ve received, the same thing has been happening to our customers too. Product mixes, ways of shopping and marketing techniques have all radically shifted.

Trading Pins Wiped Out

Take youth sports trading pins, for example. With Little League® and virtually every other youth baseball, softball, soccer and other sports leagues canceling their seasons, pins stopped selling this year.

Canceled conventions, trade shows and conferences meant lower volumes for traditional giveaway products for those events as well. And without the opportunities to present new products and services that such events provide, companies that produce them have struggled.

However, as the pandemic has continued, new products have arisen to offer new marketing opportunities.

It’s no secret that the pandemic has wreaked havoc on the global economy. With consumers staying home, spending less and generally avoiding in-person commerce, even the major national retailers have suffered. National chains such as J.C. Penney, Sur La Table, J. Crew and Nieman Marcus have filed for bankruptcy. Some, such as Pier One, Papyrus, Luby’s Cafeterias and Modell’s Sporting Goods, were forced into full liquidation.

The toll on smaller “mom-and-pop” operations is undoubtedly even worse. Many small businesses that depend on in-store traffic or in-home services have simply disappeared without a trace in cities around the world.

The recession triggered by the coronavirus continues to reverberate throughout the economy. For the businesses that have managed to hang on, margins are tight, competition remains fierce, and everyone is scrambling for a way to remind consumers of their value.

New Products Appear

With revenue down, many businesses are understandably cutting back on marketing budgets. Yet there are still cost-effective promotional products available that can help boost the bottom line and offer the necessary competitive edge.

Take custom branded masks, for example. A nonexistent category in February, they soared in popularity by August.

“I think there’s a huge potential here,” Nate Kucsma said in a recent podcast.  “They’re not going away any time soon.”

Kucsma is executive director of marketing research for the Advertising Specialty Institute, a promotional industry trade group.

Custom masks, imprinted with a brand, logo or other design, serve as both fashion accessory and personal protective equipment at the same time.

“You want something that’s going to keep you safe, but you want it to be a little bit fashion forward,” Kucsma said. “If you’re going to wear it, you want it to look good. If it looks good, and it’s functional, and it’s high quality, people are going to use them.”

Especially if you’ve lost part of your normal business stream, custom masks make sense. People see the value in them immediately, and tend to hang onto them, said C.J. Mittica, editor in chief of ASI’s trade magazines.

Survey Says…

A recent ASI survey noted that 80 percent of consumers wear a mask at least part of the time in public right now. The same survey showed 52% of customers would keep a logoed mask for three months or more.

“People will keep them, and they will hold onto them until they no longer serve a purpose,” Mittica noted in the same ASI podcast as Kucsma.

If your business gives away custom promotional logo masks, that means you’ve greatly increased the visibility of your brand for at least three months, and generated goodwill in the process.

The ASI survey showed more than half of the people surveyed would be more likely to do business with an advertiser that gave them a promotional mask.

Alternative Products

And custom masks are hardly the only hot promotional items right now. If you’re accustomed to giving away pens, for example, consider offering your customers plastic or metal “safe key” imprinted with your logo.

These handy devices let your customers open doors, push elevator buttons and more, without having to touch the surfaces with their fingers. What more could you ask for than a product that puts your logo into buyers’ hands multiple times a day?

And of course, there’s always custom labeled hand sanitizer. In travel sized bottles with your brand printed on them, it goes wherever your customers do. Perfect for travel-related businesses.

Future Steps

While the coronavirus pandemic shows no signs of going away soon, it doesn’t have to mean the death of marketing, or of your business. By taking proactive steps to keep your brand out there, in the public arena, you increase your odds of weathering the storm and remaining in business when the crisis subsides.

Obviously, no one can predict what will happen with the virus at this point, or what impact it will have on the business world. But every small thing you can do to market your brand helps.

If you’re looking for custom personal protective equipment, masks, hand sanitizer or any other promotional products, TJM Promos is your no-nonsense dependable source. For more than 15 years, we’ve been your provider for more than 800,000 custom products to help boost your bottom line. We’re here when you need us.

Want to find out more? Call us, toll free, fill out our no-obligation free quote form or email us today. Together, we can thrive.

(You can find the ASI podcast mentioned in this post here.)