In our industry, what's old is new again. Some products that were hot in the 80s and 90s are back in a big way, like neon sunglasses, slap bracelets, snap back ball caps and cinch packs. But a lot of promotional products that have long been old standbys are just plain dated. We have been thinking about the changes we've been seeing and have come up with a list of old favourites that can be easily substituted with useful, modern products that your recipients will actually want!
At one time a Bic lighter was a no-fail give-away, back when you could Flick Your Bic in any public space without breaking the law or inviting dirty looks. The numbers of smokers are down these days and lighters have become a little gauche, though they are still very useful!
We suggest an update to a long necked BBQ lighter (which Bic also makes so you can be assured the same Bic quality). BBQ lighters are great for their namesake purpose in the summer, and are perfect for lighting candles in the cooler months and during holidays. They are useful, appreciated, and last a long time so your logo will stay in people's homes awhile.
At one time a Zippo lighter was a perfect upscale gift for staff or good customers. Now, again, with the dropping numbers of smokers it isn't the sure thing it used to be.
A quality lighter is still a great gift for anyone, though, so we suggest a switch to a Wenger campfire lighter. The design on these is simply stunning, and the name gives it a wholesome feel that the Zippo is lacking. The Wenger branding lets your recipient know the quality of the item, and it's surely something they will hold onto forever.
Not that pen and paper doesn't still have a place in today's business world, but more and more companies are arming their staff with tablets such as iPads.
Fortunately our suppliers are keeping up with the trend and are offering attractive and functional tablet holders at every price point. Some even include a notepad and pen, so you aren't losing that if you still like to jot things down the old fashioned way. From leather to neoprene to felt, there is a tablet case for everyone.
CD holders used to be a solid gift for the car. You could get the kind that attach to your visor, or that fit in the glove compartment. As people move away from the clutter of CDs to listening to their music digitally while driving, the CD holder is not a welcome gift.
We suggest updating with a USB car charger or adapter for phones and/or mp3 players. Like the CD holder, it will stay in the recipient's vehicle, and serve a useful function.
Stainless Steel Travel Mugs
How many of these do you have in your house? Make sure you check the back of your cupboards, your garage, and your basement. I'll wait.
The unimaginative, leaky, stainless steel travel mug with shallow plastic lid and plastic handle has long been a favourite promotional product. It does the basic job of being a travel mug, but it is completely unimaginative, and way behind the times as far as travel mug technology goes (yes, that's what I said).
Consider an upgrade. We suggest a vacuum seal tumbler (no handle!) that keeps coffee hot all day, and virtually eliminates leaks and spills. More expensive? A little, but why give out a travel mug when you could be giving out someone's favourite travel mug?
I am given several day planners every December and I use exactly zero of them. Like many office types, I have some sort of computer screen in front of me 90% of my waking hours. Between Google Calendar, my iPad and my iPhone, I really don't need a paper book to write my appointments in. I am but one of many, many people who feel this way. Add to that the fact that even if someone does like using a paper day planner, they are probably being given more than a few at the end of the year. And they will probably throw them all out and buy one they like at Chapters in January when they go on sale. I am just telling it like it is.
So what is a good replacement? A stylus! No, it's nothing like a day planner, except it will be used at least as often and for the same purpose! We love this one, which includes a screen cleaner cloth for your phone, tablet, or glasses!
Here is the problem with the 3-in-1 jacket: it's too many jackets. In 1. I speak from experience. If you are not familiar, a 3-in-1 jacket is a parka shell with a liner jacket (usually fleece) that zips inside to form a super jacket. When it's all zipped together you have a jacket that's about 4' thick and way too hot unless you are on a polar expedition. When you zip them apart you get a shell that is way too loose, and a fleece jacket that is usually pretty unattractive. Best case scenario: your recipient is going to be wearing a boring fleece jacket with your logo on it sometimes.
Here's the update: a soft shell jacket. Fabrics are evolving and it's possible to get a lot of warmth out of thinner jackets. Soft shell jackets are attractive, warm and water resistant. They fit well and people will love wearing them.
Believe it or not, fleece has made some advances too. The thick, pill-y fleece of yore has been updated to what our suppliers are calling reverse fleece. It's a satiny finish that still gives you the comfort of fleece with a look that is similar to a soft shell. Our favourite is the Evoke jacket from Ash City. Not only does it have great design, it comes in some great trendy colours.
Key chains still have their place, but wouldn't you rather get something you can't have too many of rather than something you really only need one of? And you have one that you really like that you got on vacation already? I feel like I find six key chains every time I clean a room in my house. Guess where they go.
We suggest a USB drive instead. Same size, can be a similar price, and infinitely more useful.
You want to be right there on someone's desk so they can see your logo all the time. But the thing is people don't really need mouse pads anymore. And they certainly don't need more than one.
So how about this instead: a phone holder for the desk, or a USB hub? Those are two items that would stay in roughly the same spot as a mouse pad, but would be very useful and more in touch with today's technology.
So those are just a few ideas for updates. I have been trying to think of something to replace the stress ball, but I'm coming up short.