The Promo Column Pushing to the limits

Business is all about planning, but the year so far has tested most of our abilities to the absolute limit. Just when you think you have a handle on things then it’s all about turn. Promotional products commentator, Stuart Derrick, reports.


something resembling ‘normal’ by now.

The government has encouraged workers to return to their workplaces, particularly the thousands of office workers who have spent the past six months working from home. Schools have returned full time, which lifts a big burden from those who have struggled with childcare issues during this time. Overall, we seem to have a better understanding of some of the measures we need to deal with coronavirus. However, the new ‘rule of six’ (and it is a rule, not guidance this time) has put the clock back it seems. From the merchandise side, it probably means that people will continue to work from home as businesses reset their back to work calendars to deal with employee anxiety about a second wave. Industry body, the BPMA, had an online conference in September, and the general feeling from panel sessions was that merchandise businesses needed to batten down the hatches until mid-2021 or beyond before they could see business recover significantly.

Different business

In the meantime, it was felt that there is business out there. It’s just different business. No surprises for guessing that PPE products are set to remain big sellers. Recent research from the US trade body ASI found that 92% of the public now wear a mask in public some of the time. It also found that those who had a reusable branded mask were likely to keep it for more than three months. Just over half of consumers would look on an advertiser more favourably if they received a logoed mask from them, and 57% would be more likely to do business with a company that gave them an imprinted mask.

While merchandise companies can’t compete with suppliers that do volume PPE, branded PPE is a specialist niche and one that they can own. Brands like Maskari, which is supplied by Jutebag in the UK, and is marketed as the safest non-medical mask on the market, will find a place. Jutebag has partnered with Swiss textile technology experts to develop the new functional three-layer mask, which can be custom branded.

| 22 | October 2020 Sleevz

Creator, Julie Bernstein, developed the mask to solve her own fogging up issues, and with her husband has raised more than £5,000 through crowdfunding to increase production. The fledgling business has already had orders from around the world, including the UK. As we move into autumn, thoughts turn indoors – just as well if we’re facing another round of lockdowns. Maybe we should think of it more along the lines of Hygge, as our Scandinavian friends call the urge to find satisfaction in cosiness as the weather, and other things, turn on us.

Oldeani can help prospects stay warm inside when it’s gets cold outside with its Oyster thermal mug. Made from premium grade 304 stainless steel with a non-spill, sliding spout lid the Oyster is great for a coffee on the go or at the desk. The external powder coating

or many companies, the hope was that they would be heading back towards

Each layer has a carefully selected specialist treatment applied to provide comfort as well as protection.

Innovation is key

Innovation has been the key to bringing such new products to the market. It’s been impressive to see how some companies have turned on a dime to retool their operations and come up with creative ways to serve new needs. One of the unexpected issues around mask wearing that has affected some is the way that they fog up your glasses. Now, an American company from Alabama has come to the rescue with a new type of facial covering it has called Sleevz that uses magnets to prevent eyeglass fog.

contrasts beautifully with the brushed stainless steel rim and is ideal for either laser engraving or printing. It can be engraved with individual names in addition to logos and is available in both black and white.

Spreading cheer

An accompaniment comes from Kingly, whose colourful socks are great for spreading cheer, brand awareness and toasty toes. Now the company is adding eco-friendly packaging for the promotional industry. Its socks are

Kingly’s socks

packaged as standard into individual compostable self-seal bags, which come at no extra charge and are made of plasticiser-free and GMO-free thermoplastic material based on natural potato starch. Once disposed of, the bag will break down in approximately eight weeks.

After months of ups and downs, it's understandable that some of us may focus more on the latter than the former, but there’s always Christmas to look forward to. Contrary to what some purveyors of doom may predict, it’s not cancelled – not yet anyway. Michael Freter, managing director of Europe’s largest trade show for merchandise, PSI, has said that enquiries about Christmas goods are booming, which matches news from retailer John Lewis. It opened its Christmas shop early after searches for festive products were four times higher than they were last year. Christmas 2020 may well prove to be the year where season’s greetings are more than just a platitude and really make their mark. Are you ready?

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