Category Archives: Consumer Behavior

Paper Calendars Endure Despite the Digital Age | Guest Post by NYT Reporter, Christopher Mele

Today I am pleased to share with you this feature on printed calendars published by The New York Times. I would like to express my gratitude to the reporter Christopher Mele and to PPAI members Jerome Hoxton, president of Tru Art Advertising Calendars, and Melissa Ralston, marketing director for BIC Graphic, for their contributions.

Paul

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By Christopher Mele, Reporter, The New York Times

Digitally published in The New York Times on December 29, 2016 and in print on December 30, 2016, on Page B2 of the New York edition.

With the year’s end comes the ritual of many households and offices: getting new appointment books, planners or calendars to hang on walls or put on desks.

In an age of smartphones and the internet, you might think the days of paper calendars are numbered, but data suggest otherwise. Not only have they survived the digital revolution, but sales of some kinds of print calendars have increased.

The sales of appointment books and planners grew 10 percent from 2014-15 to 2015-16 to $342.7 million, and decorative and other calendars increased by 8 percent to $65 million in that time, according to figures from the NPD Group, a consumer research firm.

Personalization has helped make planners and appointment books popular, Leen Nsouli, an analyst of the office supplies industry at NPD, said in an email.

“The consumer can customize a planner to fit his or her style with accessories, colors and even color code events and activities,” she wrote. “That’s not something you can do on the standard phone calendar.”

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Promotional calendars are a way for businesses to advertise and to connect with customers. | Credit: MedForce

Jerome Hoxton, president of Tru Art Advertising Calendars in Iowa City, Iowa, said traditional calendars remain popular because they combine aesthetics with utility. Paper and digital calendars can readily coexist.

“What we found is it’s a question of and,” he said. “It’s not a question of or.”

Bertel King Jr., in a blog post last year for Make Use Of, a technology and productivity site, made the case for paper calendars, noting that he was “inundated with notifications, beeps, alerts and messages.”

“Having to open another tab, fire up another piece of software, or launch another app to access my calendar amounts to one more onscreen thing vying for my attention,” he wrote. “Suddenly a paper planner starts to make sense.”

It may seem counterintuitive that a print product can thrive in the digital age. But the continued success of some paper calendars mirrors that of printed books, an industry that several years ago was confronting what seemed like the very real possibility that e-books would outsell the printed variety. Instead, a Pew survey this fall found that most readers still preferred their reading material printed on paper.

Still, the popularity of some calendars — desk pads and the ones that hang on your wall — has waned.

The average number of printed calendars in households was 3.12 in 2011 compared with 3.98 in 1981, according to the most recent study sponsored by the Promotional Products Association International and the Calendar Advertising Council. The kitchen remained the prime display location, with 75 percent of respondents saying they had a calendar there. The average number of printed calendars per business was 2.10, down from 2.56 in 1981, according to the study.

A 2008 paper from Virginia Tech, called “An Exploratory Study of Personal Calendar Use,” predicted the march of electronic calendars would be swift and inevitable. “With the increased use of mobile devices, more and more calendaring tasks are performed off the desktop computer,” it said.

A bright spot in the industry remains promotional calendars, like those distributed by real estate agents, medical professionals, car repair shops and other businesses. As a percentage of sales of promotional products, those calendars have held steady or increased slightly from 2012 to 2015, according to industry figures.

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Paper calendars are an effective advertising vehicle with a mass market appeal. | Credit: Wright County Parks & Recreation

Melissa Ralston, marketing director for BIC Graphic, said in an email that companies have found paper calendars to be an effective advertising vehicle with a mass market appeal.

She said studies have found that 82 percent of recipients enjoy getting a calendar as a complimentary gift and 70 percent plan to do business with the company that provided the calendar.

As for Ms. Ralston, she practices what she preaches. She said she has three calendars: a planner, a wall calendar and one on her refrigerator.

#GetInTouch! Campaign News | U.S. Calls In Promo Industry To Raise Its Profile | Guest Post

I am pleased to share with you this Product Media article excerpt reprinted courtesy of the British Promotional Merchandise Association covering PPAI’s new industry branding campaign, Get In Touch!

We are excited to see the Get In Touch! campaign getting international attention. Designed for the entire promotional products industry, we hope to see Get In Touch! take hold around the world and become a global movement.

Paul

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I am delighted that my good friend Paul Bellantone, and PPAI Chair of the Board, Tom Goos are speaking at the bpma Education Day at Silverstone, UK in September.  I think it’s really important that the promotional products industry works together around the globe to support each other, whether on end buyer campaigns like the #GetInTouch! campaign, product safety, research, education or best practices.

Gordon Glenister, bpma Director General

GIT - BPMA article image

Much like the work of the British Promotional Merchandise Association (bpma), the Promotional Products Association International’s (PPAI) core mission is to grow and protect the promotional products industry and enhance the professionalism and success of its members. To this end, PPAI has developed and delivered initiatives like Product Safety Aware, MAS+, MAS and CAS professional development industry certifications, as well as Promotional Products Work! Week which I know has also become a successful initiative for bpma members in the UK.

For its latest programme to drive growth and success, PPAI will officially launch the industry branding initiative, the #GetInTouch campaign, this month in conjunction with Advertising Week in New York City.

The #GetInTouch campaign was introduced by PPAI chair of the board, Tom Goos, MAS, and me at The PPAI Expo 2016. It is a five-year, multi-million dollar, industry-wide initiative targeting advertising buyers. It is designed to increase awareness and enhance the perception of the promotional products industry as well as communicate the benefits of working with promotional consultants. The overall goal of the campaign is to direct a larger share of advertising dollars to our industry.

Celebrate success

#GetInTouch, a joint initiative between PPAI and the membership, is important to the promotional products industry because, for too long, it has been an afterthought for many advertisers. It is seen as a medium of fun and useful ‘stuff’ that is not always recognised for its proven value and strengths. The industry knows, understands and communicates the power of promotional products, but it’s high time the rest of the world recognised the advertising power of promotional products and their place in successful advertising campaigns. Our research tells us that as other advertising media struggle to achieve year over-year growth and remain relevant, promotional products are perfectly positioned to grow – and have grown – in an increasingly digital world.

To help us achieve success with this initiative, we’ve partnered with a public relations and branding firm to deliver a creative and impactful campaign that breaks through the advertising clutter to reach and influence advertising buyers, from Fortune 500 companies to smaller local advertisers.

Tom Goos put it best when he said: “For years PPAI has worked on advocating for the industry, but never with a multi-year strategic campaign at this level. Industry promotion has always been bootstrapped with little budget or limited resources. With the launch of the #GetInTouch campaign, the board is saying we want this to be a primary focus and we should put funding and a strategic plan behind it. The board recognises that we are well positioned to capitalise on the changes in marketing and growth of the digital world.”

He added: “PPAI will not be successful if it pursues this initiative alone. It’s going to require companies like mine and yours to participate.”

Get involved

Along with an integrated paid, earned, shared and owned (PESO) strategy that includes major media buys in publications like Advertising Age, digital strategies and possibly an industry spokesperson, the #GetInTouch campaign will feature member kits available for download and customisation, including elements that members will be able to immediately incorporate into their own marketing efforts. The goal is to make sure PPAI members become an integral part of the #GetInTouch campaign.

Complementing the launch of this initiative is a newly redesigned and recently launched website (PromotionalProductsWork.org). It is targeted at advertising buyers, tells a two-part story about the power of promotional products and the importance of working with promotional consultants.

We know that our ability to clearly articulate the power and compelling value of promotional products and of working through promotional consultants is critical to the vitality and vibrancy of our industry. PPAI has a winning plan to reach advertising buyers through the campaign at the national level and will create the tools our members need to get involved and engaged with their customers and prospects.

#GetInTouch will be one of the most significant contributions PPAI has made to the strengthening of the promotional products industry, but as Tom noted, we must engage our members for this initiative to be successful.

Read the entire article here.

IMA Summit – A Special Offer for PPAI Members

PPAI and the Incentive Marketing Association (IMA) have been collaborating for years on education and events. Recently as I was talking with Sean Roark, IMA executive vice president and Summit chair, and he shared that IMA is extending a valuable offer for PPAI members who want to attend this year’s IMA Executive Summit July 18-20, at the Hyatt Regency, Houston, Texas.

PPAI members who attend the IMA Summit can take advantage of two discounts from IMA:

  • Receive 50 percent off on the “Principles of Results Based Incentive Program Design” course. The course and the exam to earn the “Incentive Professional” IP Certification are both offered at the Summit. Enter the code PPAI80 on the Summit registration form.
  • Save 50 percent on first year IMA membership dues when you join IMA at the conference.

Because PPAI members and IMA members work in related channels, the IMA Summit provides a great opportunity for promotional products professionals to better understand what’s involved in becoming a part of the incentive industry.

The Summit agenda has a robust collection of events, from world-class speakers and curriculum to fantastic entertainment and networking opportunities. Including breakout sessions, round tables and Strategic Industry Group (SIG)-focused meetings to provide both broad issue-related topics as well as SIG-specific education.

To register online and view the conference schedule visit the IMA website.

Participate. Elevate. Celebrate.

PPW!Work_Logo2016

Next week is Promotional Products Work! Week, and together we will build awareness and increase exposure to grow and protect our industry. Everyone has a role to play and each action, no matter how small, will make a big difference at the local, state and national level. You can help by raising awareness in your own company, community and among your current and future customers!

Many of you already have the whole week planned out, but if you haven’t yet started, it’s not too late! Here are a few things you can do—easily, quickly and inexpensively—to promote your business and strengthen our industry right now!

Take a few minutes to reach out. We’ve made it simple and easy.

Initiate. Inform. Influence.

  • Download the PPW! Week guides and toolkits.

    PPWW Persona Quad Ad Set

    Download & add your logo to the #PPWWeek co-op campaign!

  • Use the banners, infographics, video and ads to post to your website and social media pages, and embed in emails. Personalize them by adding your logo.
  • Add the Promotional Products Work! twibbon to your social profile pic.
  • Round up self-promos and samples and donate them to a nonprofit in your community.
  • Advocate for the industry by participating in the PPAI Legislative Education and Action Day Virtual Fly-In.
  • Reach out and thank your customers.
  • Take lots of photos and share them using the hashtag #PPWWeek.
PPW Twibbon FB Ad Set 600x600

Add the #PPWWeek twibbon!

The fourth annual PPW! Week is focused on growing your business by educating the buyers of promotional products—your current and future customers. This international week-long event is focused on raising awareness of the benefits of promotional products among advertisers, marketers and media buyers.

Our goal is to increase our share in the media buy by enabling a deeper understanding of promotional products as an advertising medium among buyers, as well as sharing the benefits of working with certified promotional products professionals.

Thank you for your commitment and dedication to this great and growing industry. It is through your individual and cumulative efforts that we succeed—every day.

Paul

For more information or questions, contact PPW! Week program manager, Kim R. Todora at KimT@ppai.org.

Guest Post | Rebranding for the Millennial Consumer

Seth Barnett is PPAI’s Diversity Development & Engagement Manager. This program was developed by PPAI to help the industry meet the challenges that come with a broadening generational demographic. Seth’s job is to develop new ways for businesses to meet the growing demands of an increasingly diverse workforce and changing buyer market. Businesses are encouraged to utilize PPAI’s diversity development resources at www.ppai.org/diversity and on social media by following #PPAINextGen. These resources are updated weekly and will help business develop plans to meet demographic challenges. 

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Millennial buyers are the first to share what brands they identify with and are loyal to. This buying group is the most brand loyal of any previous generation and prides themselves on the brands they know and love. Because of this, many brands are seen as characteristically outdated by Millennials and are struggling to meet the demands of the new customer.

This past year the Millennial Generation took their spot as the majority shareholders among retail consumers. Over the past few years many brands have adapted their marketing practices to meet the demands of a new buying group. Companies like Target, Nike and Coca-Cola have remarketed themselves over the past few years and are among the top 10 Millennial brands. Rounding out the bottom of this list are companies created exclusively for this buying group such as Axe and Anthropologie, which goes to show that even the most influential Millennial branded companies struggle to compete.

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Harley-Davidson’s new global marketing campaign titled ‘Live Your Legend,’ is designed to inspire generations to learn to ride and demonstrate how a new Harley-Davidson motorcycle can enable riders to create deeper bonds and share richer experiences.

For the purpose of better understanding what rebranding and remarketing looks like for a consumer company, I was surprised to find the 113-year-old motorcycle giant Harley-Davidson as one seeking to revise its image among young consumers and doing it the right way. This week, Harley-Davidson released a new marketing campaign that truly speaks Millennial. In conjunction with this, Harley-Davidson began a social media campaign, the first of its kind, titled #LiveYourLegend. The premise of this campaign is to show young consumers that a Harley-Davidson motorcycle is no longer exclusive to the older demographic. The associated advertisement shows a young Harley-Davidson rider who has the perfect Millennial look mixed with biker edge. He is shown pulling into his garage where his toddler son waits for him on a toy tricycle. They ad concludes with “if you wait to live your dreams, your kids will miss the lesson”.

Harley-Davidson did something interesting in this campaign, they sought out younger consumers without alienating the older demographic or their existing customer base. The company used stories from existing Harley-Davidson owners about their experience with the motorcycle world to build a well-rounded marketing campaign. This gave the ad a sense of nostalgia while maintaining a trendy edge. This particular TV ad will be released during the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament, a first for a Harley-Davidson commercial, which naturally targets the youngest consumer group.

Harley-Davidson has consistently shown investors that their target demographic is 35 to 74-year-old men of various income levels. However, these consumers will only decrease their national market share in the coming years. The present young adult consumers will make up the market majority for years to come. Harley-Davidson is a company that is choosing to be proactive to ensure their longevity. It is Harley-Davidson’s goal to have Millennials make up 50% of its market share within the new few years. Also worth noting here, Harley-Davidson expects 64% of its entire market to be female over the next decade. Again, this is all done through a careful balance to ensure that all consumers are marketed to equally.

Harley-Davidson is also seeking to provide another key element to the equation of selling motorcycles. They have tapped into social media and online campaigns to help drive traffic into their dealerships. Once there, customers will be met with a new Harley-Davidson experience. Harley-Davidson shops are no longer exclusively a place to buy a motorcycle or have maintenance done, they are a place to congregate and relax. Many shops have lounge areas, pool tables, constant activities, and free beer on tap (Pabst Blue Ribbon, the top-selling beer for Millennials). Harley-Davidson is developing a more welcoming, engaging environment that Millennial’s seek out. This helps fit the old economic logic that the longer a person is able to stay in a consumer environment, the more likely they are to make a purchase.

Over the past two years Harley-Davidson has seen a steady decline in sales. However, they seem to be making the correct adjustments to welcome in new buyers and keep their products on the road. I suspect that Harley-Davidson will continue to advance toward the Millennial consumer market through carefully designed methods while maintaining their “Live to Ride, Ride to Live” attitude.

Guest Post | The Best of Government Spending

Today, I am pleased to present a guest post by Counselor Editor, Andy Cohen.

This Counselor Commentary was published in response to the KHOU investigative report broadcast last week.

Thank you Andy for your staunch support of this great industry!

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It’s common – and wrong – to question how government agencies spend money on promotional products. Those are smart investments, even though some don’t want to admit it.

Election season really does bring out the worst in just about everybody. Candidates, political action committees, backers, government officials, and voters even – they all end up slinging mud at some point in an election year. So, 2016 is certainly no different, and considering the tenor of the presidential campaign, it may even be the worst yet.

But one common line of criticism, which definitely ramps up during election years, is how government offices (local, state, federal) spend money on promotional products. These are used in many ways by public offices – rewards for employees, awareness campaigns, job fairs, and retention and hiring efforts. They’re all legitimate expenses because they provide value and help these government offices spread their messages and achieve their goals.

Not everybody wants to admit that. Take officials in Texas, for example. A recent report on KHOU, a CBS-affiliated television station in Houston, and online at KHOU.com revealed that the media outlet’s “investigative reporters” totaled up how much state government agencies spent on promotional products that it used as rewards for employees between September 2008 and December 2015. The grand total? A whole $8.8 million worth of what the report calls “trinkets.”

The range of promotional products that state agencies in Texas used over that seven-year time period – can I stress, SEVEN YEARS! – was rather impressive. There were items such as weather station desk accessories, water bottles, coffee mugs, travel tumblers, blankets, umbrellas, jump ropes, juggling balls, pens, notepads, and business card holders. They were also used in a variety of ways, including as performance and retention rewards, and as training tools at meetings.

“These items were purchased and utilized to reinforce training concepts,” Bryan Black, a spokesman for the Texas Health and Human Services Commission, told KHOU in reference to the juggling balls that the agency purchased. “Different quality control scenarios were written on the balls, and the balls were then used as a tool for the participants to answer scenario-based questions and apply the information presented during the class to reinforce learning.”

A completely reasonable purchase for a state agency to make, but KHOU decided to make this a referendum on public spending, saying that “your tax dollars” bought these items. The implication, of course? Wasteful spending. So, they found somebody who would speak out against it.

“I think it needs to be seriously looked at,” said Peggy Venable, senior policy fellow with Americans for Prosperity, a non-profit government watchdog group. “We do want government employees who are recognized for doing a good job, (but) how do we do that? I don’t think it’s with junk.”

Well, Ms. Venable, you have no idea what you’re talking about. It has been proven time and again that promotional products provide value beyond just the item that’s handed out – just check out the many ASI Ad Specialties Impressions Studies we’ve conducted at www.asicentral.com/study. They’re far from the “junk” you call them, because they actually provide a return-on-investment better than most other forms of marketing media. And, as rewards promotional products are particularly impactful because recipients actually keep and repeatedly use the items in their everyday life – reinforcing the message that the agency handing the items out wants to impart.

The media outlet in Houston and the one non-profit watchdog representative that they chose to quote are making a lazy and easy argument that tends to rear its ugly head whenever government spending becomes an issue. So, the whole state of Texas spent $8.8 million on rewards for employees and training tools over a seven-year period – less than $1.3 million per year for one of the largest states in the union. I’d argue that they didn’t actually spend enough, and could have gotten more out of what KHOU refers to as “your tax dollars at work” by doing more consistent promotional products campaigns. Maybe they should have targeted some extra education and training efforts toward local media, so they too can see and feel the impact of promotional products.

LASTING IMPRESSIONS = BRAND GRATITUDE

It is with great pleasure that I repost an article by PPB’s editor, Tina Filipski. It’s good reading. Enjoy!


AWXII Blog Article - I Love New York T-ShirtGuest blog by Tina Berres Filipski, editor, PPB magazine | Originally published in Advertising Week Social Club, September 15, 2015

With the abundance of ad messages coming at consumers from multiple sources, it’s not surprising that ad avoidance is at an all-time high. This tendency to close an ad or change the channel is a real concern because marketers want their audience to desire engagement with their brands. Best-selling author, entrepreneur and agent of change, Seth Godin, whose blog is one of the most popular in the world, recently wrote that the most valuable forms of marketing are consumed voluntarily.

An Hour with Seth Godin InviteHear more from Seth Godin on how to initiate meaningful conversations with your audiences when PPAI presents “An Hour With Seth Godin” on October 1 at the Hard Rock Café New York.

Click here to reserve tickets.

Advertisers have discovered that the way to the decision-making part of the brain is not only through a prospect’s eyes or ears. Advertising that appeals to people’s sense of smell (a branded pen filled with vanilla-scented ink), taste (a gift box of silky chocolates) and touch (the softness of a Pima cotton logoed t-shirt) is a fresh approach to driving sales and, more importantly, to making the advertising message stick.

Today, we hold more computer power in the palm of our hand than Apollo 11 had when it landed a man on the moon. Technology feeds us a constant stream of news, notes, entertainment, educational content and advertising messages 24/7, on the device of choice, at our desks, in airports, on busses, trains and planes, in bars and restaurants, in our cars, on the street and in our homes. It’s conservatively estimated that the average adult is exposed to no fewer than 200 visual advertising messages a day; that’s 70,000 per year. Amid all the noise, it’s easy to filter ad messages, confuse them or tune them out completely.

It’s not surprising then, that the average adult has an attention span of  eight seconds (the average goldfish can pay attention for nine seconds) so advertisers must create messages and methods of communicating them that are innovative, engaging and memorable.

This is where taking a multi-sensory approach with sound, touch, taste and smell reinforce the visual message to produce a more powerful and memorable experience both for the advertiser and the prospect. Yasushi Kusume, a brand and innovation designer, author, speaker and lecturer says that applying multi-sensory design to all the touch points (moments of contact with a user) allows a product or service to produce a more complete, and ultimately better brand experience.

Appealing to the senses can also positively affect consumers’ memory about the brand. In one example, scientists discovered that adding tea tree oil to wooden pencils helped recipients remember the logo on the pencils. Two weeks later, recipients who received fragrance-free pencils experienced a 73-percent decline in recall but for those who used the scented pencils, there was only an eight-percent decline.

So how do you create a multi-sensory experience? Pairing an online ad with an offer for a tangible promotional product (such as a logoed travel cup offered in an online ad from a state tourism department) is a proven way to keep the ad message top of mind. Liquor distributors have found value in promoting new brands by partnering with bars to serve up their drinks in LED-lit take-home glasses. Real estate agents and homebuilders keep their names in front of new homeowners by gifting them with a logoed key chain embedded with a sound chip. Likewise, take-out restaurants can remain memorable longer if they tuck a sound-activated refrigerator magnet into each order. Car dealers can also keep that new-car smell fresh in a new owner’s mind with a scented car air freshener. Insurance companies and banks can put a smile on clients’ faces by sending them home with a chocolate-scented pen or beribboned gift pack of the real thing.

By creating multi-sensory experiences in pairing the tactile value of promotional products with visual or auditory media, advertisers are also reinforcing name recognition for the brand as research shows that 88 percent of consumers were able to recall the advertiser’s name on a promotional product received in the past 12 months, while only 71 percent could recall a newspaper ad seen the week before.

“If a picture’s worth a thousand words, what’s the worth of the real thing?” asks promotional consultant, author and speaker Jae M. Rang, MAS, in her new book Sensory Media. “I’m going to suggest its image to the power of five—five representing our five senses. Here’s why: When you hold a promotional product you hold the “brand in your hand.” It’s different than seeing a billboard or watching a commercial. A promotional product is an interactive, multi-sensory communication tool that can create or recreate a brand experience. Each time you pick up that pen, wear that t-shirt, drink from that water bottle, or write on that sticky note, you’re reminded of where it came from and are, in some way, interacting with the brand imprinted on the product.”

Unlike all other forms of advertising, promotional products recipients actually say “thank-you” to the giver and then keep and use the product for up to two years on average. No other media can claim that.

In a world where consumers are flooded with ad messages, and the staying power of the impression can be as fleeting as an Instagram post, promotional products offer a tangible, memorable and refreshingly innovative way to promote a brand.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Tina Berres Filipski, editor, PPB magazineTina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB (Promotional Products Business) magazine, the flagship publication of Promotional Products Association International, the trade association serving more than 11,000 manufacturers, decorators and promotional agencies in the U.S. and around the world. Before joining PPAI in 1995, she produced publications for the meetings/hospitality and home furnishings industries, as well as a consumer magazine for upscale Dallas-Ft. Worth homeowners.

ADDITIONAL INSIGHTS:

People Love Promotional Products

The Influence Of Promotional Products On Consumer Behavior

Effectiveness Of Promotional Products As An Ad Medium