A sales kickoff meeting is your chance to get everyone on your sales team in one place to create a sense of unity. Many sales professionals think of these meetings as a review of numbers, products and marketing plans. However, Lynne Zaledonis, an SVP at Salesforce, says they can be so much more.
In this issue of Promotional Consultant Today, we highlight Zaledonis' four elements to ensure your sales team is motivated, empowered and focused on the right priorities all year long.
1. Inspiration. Zaledonis says that a key priority for any kickoff is getting pumped for an incredible upcoming sales year. To accomplish this, inspiration must run through the entire kickoff, from start to finish. Inspiration can come in many forms. You will most likely have senior leaders there to speak and engage with reps. But the motivation doesn't all have to come directly from the company. An outside speaker can really bring a fresh perspective and pique the curiosity of attendees.
2. Strategic planning. A kickoff is all about planning—communicating the plans and goals for the year ahead and plotting the paths to success. According to Zaledonis, devising a kickoff starts with identifying the key goals. Ask the question, "What do you want attendees to walk away with?" Prioritize what may be most important, especially in terms of looking back at the previous year and sharing goals. An ideal agenda will include some must-haves such as engaging breakout sessions, networking events and panels. And don't forget to have some fun, adds Zaledonis.
3. Enablement. Sales reps are only as successful as your enablement and support—and a sales kickoff is ground zero for delivering the information and training at one time. Remember that any presentations and content should be interactive and designed for information retention, notes Zaledonis. Look for ways to involve customers in the event, from live panels to individual sessions or conversations. Their perspectives and input are invaluable to informing sales reps on not only what customers want, but how they can do their jobs better.
4. Future learning. A successful sales kickoff isn't one that ends after everyone goes home. Attendees should be inspired and ready to hit the ground running. However, Zaledonis says that even with a keen focus on quality over quantity and delivering more interactive sessions at the kickoff, there's a stark reality: People forget things. You can do several things to help mitigate this. Capture all of the sessions on video for redistribution or create a one-page cheat sheets to distill the content and information.
Don't miss the mark on your next sales kickoff. Be sure to incorporate inspiration, strategic planning, enablement and future learning into your meeting. By taking time to map out a productive event, you set the course for a successful year.
Compiled by Audrey Sellers
Source: Lynne Zaledonis is SVP, product marketing at Salesforce. She is an experienced cloud leader and marketer with a diverse background of more than 19 years in CRM solutions and sales.
This article was used with permission from PPAI Publications and was originally published on February 6, 2020. See the original article at https://pubs.ppai.org/pc-today/four-components-of-a-powerful-sales-kickoff/
…look for sales opportunities when prospects announce changes in sourcing principles.
2/10/2020 | Jeff Jacobs, The Brand Protector
Raise your hand if your late-night hunger pangs have driven you through the Taco Bell drive-thru. If that passion for a greasy fix made you question your judgment later in the cool light of day, take heart. At least you were supporting a fast food chain going greener by choice—or one headed in that direction because their customer base told them they need to.
If you “Run for the Border” on a more frequent basis, you may have noticed that Taco Bell switched to recyclable cold drink cups and lids two years ago. In addition, the fast food chain had vegetarian offerings on the menu, but these items weren’t featured in marketing efforts until last year. Taco Bell was also among the first in fast food to swap out plastic single-use bags for paper.
But, what’s next for Taco Bell surprised me by how aggressive an initiative it is. As part of its 2020 commitments, Taco Bell says it will convert all consumer-facing packaging to be either reusable, recyclable, or compostable at all locations around the world by 2025. The company will install recycling and composting bins in restaurants where local resources allow. Note that not every town composts together as a community, and what actually is recyclable where varies by community. The new packaging materials will also be free of PFAS, phthalates, and BPA, the chemicals we’ve talked about frequently that research has shown to be associated with cancer, thyroid disease, and low birth weight.
So, while you may not be looking to be qualified as a vendor at Yum! Brands (parent company of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut), it’s always a good idea to scour around for announcements of this kind of initiative by prospective clients. Check corporate websites for “latest news” or publicity releases. Your prospect, or your current client for that matter, might just be coming into the market for sustainably sourced drinkware, straws, lids, utensils, food containers—maybe a complete overhaul of their break room, conference room, or cafeteria. Don’t forget the hard goods and soft goods to help publicize the initiative to be 100 percent recyclable, reusable or compostable, which would, of course, fit one of those criteria as well. Getting the idea of just how big this could be at one of your prospects?
For Taco Bell, this is a BIG change, the company has 7,000 restaurants serving 47 million customers a week. “With growing sustainability concerns including plastic use and recycling practices, we wanted to make these commitments, so our fans don’t have to choose between ‘craveability’ and responsible dining,” Missy Schaaphok, Taco Bell’s global nutrition and sustainability manager, told Energy Manager Today. “We have a responsibility to leave a lighter footprint on the Earth. On top of that, there’s legislation happening across the US, mostly in the coastal states, related to packaging. Over the past few years, we’ve been working to ensure all of our restaurants are in compliance.”
This is still a work-in-progress for Taco Bell. They’ve created a specific team focused on working with suppliers to rethink packaging through 2025 with a focus on sustainability, functionality, and communication. Your client, or prospect, may not have a sourcing need this large or complex, but they may have a responsible sourcing initiative just as important to them. Wouldn’t you want to be considered “on the team” to help reach that goal?
Jeff Jacobs has been an expert in building brands and brand stewardship for 40 years, working in commercial television, Hollywood film and home video, publishing, and promotional brand merchandise. He’s a staunch advocate of consumer product safety and has a deep passion and belief regarding the issues surrounding compliance and corporate social responsibility. He retired as executive director of Quality Certification Alliance, the only non-profit dedicated to helping suppliers provide safe and compliant promotional products. Before that, he was director of brand merchandise for Michelin. Connect with Jeff on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, or his personal blog on Tumblr or jeffreypjacobs.com. Reach out to him on email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article was used with permission from PromoCorner, see the original article at https://www.promocorner.com/promojournal/Keep-An-Eye-On-Sustainability-Initiatives?i=3966.
1/16/2020 | Lisa Schofield, Product Feature
Nearly all senses are energized on the tradeshow floor of any industry, for both exhibitors and attendees. Inspiration and awe abound, ideas are generated, and new products are not just bought and sold, but are also incubated.
Booth exhibits so artfully designed can inspire gasps with the wow-factor. Others feature cozy sitting areas to take the load off feet. And one thing that most attendees look forward to is collecting promotional merchandise.
The team at Merchology.com have compiled its “Top 10 Custom Logo Trade Show Giveaways for 2020,” as follows:
Notebooks and pens: “prospective clients and business partners will need to a way to write down all the valuable information” they receive.
Portable chargers: With all the activity a tradeshow day entails (breakout meetings, booth meetings, spontaneous meetings, seminars) attendees are rushing and don’t have time to ensure their batteries are charged.
Candy: OK – of course, your exhibitor client can just heft in a few bags of assorted candies at the local Sam’s or Costco. But the attendee who grabs a Snicker’s from your client’s booth later enjoyment will not be able to remember which company’s booth he/she got it from. Now, imagine your client’s logo on the wrapper or little sample baggie instead. When the need for a sugar energy rush occurs, the attendee will remember your client.
Tote bags: As society loves to collect and gather, bags are highly desirable, especially at tradeshows. Attendees may have lofty, austere goals of “traveling light” throughout the show, but such resolution dissolves quickly. On trend here are bags for re-use, made with sustainable and/or recycled materials.
Can/bottle Koozies: Dry, recycled air in most convention centers, combined with heightened energy use demand hydration. Tradeshow time goes at warp speed, it seems, and cold beverages warm up quickly.
Water bottles/drinkware: Have you noticed how … artsy … reusable water bottles and mugs have become? Many available for promotional use can look fantastic on a desk or side table. Sports enthusiasts will enjoy eco-friendly hydration bottles, too.
PopSockets and phone wallets: “Phone accessories are all the rage when it comes to promotional items,” according to Merchology. “Just think, how many times do YOU looka t your phone every day?”
Audio devices: branded Bluetooth speakers and wireless headphones will be used and prized. They are still considered high-end.
Lip balm: Again, that dry air in convention centers tends to chap lips. Plus all the talking we tend to do as both attendees and exhibitors exacerbates the need for lip moisturization. And then, often, there’s the plane ride back home, another lip-drying experience.
T-shirts: Quick, when was the last time you saw a person wearing a plain, blank T-shirt? Doesn’t happen anymore. As the desire for self-branding and identity continues to trend, wearing a printed T from a favored vendor, product or brand shows the world a little bit about who we are.
The beauty and brilliance of the promotional products industry is the sheer breadth and depth of products and garments it provides to enhance any and every company or association that exhibits at an event for face-to-face interaction.
That said, there are still companies that purchase space to exhibit (and also pay for all attendant costs of exhibiting), that are happy to create a cute tabletop display with their executive business cards and dollar-store décor. If you have a client you know can increase their presence and post-show business through creative and compelling marketing that includes targeted giveaways, let them know that 81% ?f tradeshow/convention attendees h?v? purchasing ?uth?r?t? – four out of five people who walk by your client’s booth are potential customers. Also, your client’s competitors are also exhibiting a few aisles over; a quick competitive edge for your client is a targeted and desirable giveaway.
On Absolute Exhibits’ website, the team writes, “Giveaways can be a tricky subject. Think outside of the box like unique items that may relate to your goods or services.”
Additionally, the team points out, “after a while [on the tradeshow floor], attendees start to feel weary, worn out from being called to different booths by people like carnival barkers to sell sell sell. People, places, and companies start to blur together.
This is the crucial time to help your client ensure that that tradeshow burnout can be penetrated by clever marketing and that they dapple through the blur. And a key part of that clever marketing is engaging the attendees in ways where they can win logoe’d merchandise.
Take time to find out about your client’s industry by reading the B2B media, visit the industry association’s website and social media as well as those of the tradeshow event host. This will help you sort through the thousands of products to narrow down potential offerings. Relatedly, every industry also has more than one show per year, so find out how many the client is planning on exhibiting. This opens up another avenue of creative promotions, and/or the client can order in bulk.
Staff of course, should be outfitted neatly and in logoe’d apparel so as to be immediately recognizable. Encourage your client to promote a friendly contest among sales staff for the event by providing a tiered award platform for first, second and third place.
And finally, don’t forget editors, writers and producers who stop by to request commentary for media stories they are working on. Your client will help build strong relationships with their B2B media by providing a fun and useful logo’ed promotion.
Tradeshows are more than just the booth giveaway. Although that will always remain a crucial attraction for attendees.
This article used with permission from PromoCorner, https://www.promocorner.com/promojournal/Tradeshow-Outlook-for-2020-Booming?i=3931
LinkedIn can be a powerful tool for salespeople—when used correctly. Most sales professionals use LinkedIn for prospecting and research, but they fail to truly spark engagement. Fortunately, Stephen Key, an author, speaker and entrepreneur, says that sales reps can get more out of LinkedIn by making a few tweaks.
Keep reading this issue of Promotional Consultant Today for Key’s three easy steps to spark engagement on LinkedIn.
1. Get your profile right. Key says it’s critical to have a killer profile on LinkedIn. That’s because the people you message often view your profile to qualify you first. By including some simple personal branding on your profile, you can positively influence these brief qualifications, which often have long-lasting results, according to Key.
Your profile lays the foundation of the perceived value of the marketing material you send and sets the tone for every interaction you have on the platform. How you present yourself either elevates the perceived value of your marketing material or ends up shooting you in the foot.
Key says that people typically only spend about 20 seconds scanning a LinkedIn profile, so you don’t need a mountain of impressive information. You need a complete profile—one that showcases you as a professional and shows that you’re in the game.
2. Make the right connections. Be sure you’re connecting with the right people. As a rule of thumb, salespeople are the quickest to respond. Marketing people are usually a little bit more helpful, but they’re not as active as sales professionals on the platform. Some presidents and CEOs take a hands-on approach to LinkedIn. However, they are usually the wrong tree to bark up, notes Key.
3. Reach out the right way. When reaching out to contacts on LinkedIn, the best strategy is to pose a simple question, according to Key. Hard linear sales pitches don’t work on LinkedIn. You must let your marketing material do the selling for you. Effective scripts for sparking engagement can be as simple as: “Hey Jane, is there someone at [company name] who takes care of your self-promotion campaigns?” Messages that are short, specific and ask a reasonable question are infinitely more likely to spark engagement and elicit a response than long-winded, self-important rants.
When you log on to LinkedIn, be sure to manage your expectations. Some people respond in minutes while others take months to reply. Remember that there will be slow days and days when you don’t have time to get back to everyone.
Whether you’re connecting on LinkedIn or in real life, relationships are about people. With the right approach and the right mindset, you can use LinkedIn to stack the deck in your favor and strengthen your business-networking endeavors.
Source: Stephen Key is an inventor, author, speaker and co-founder of inventRight, LLC., a Nevada-based company that educates entrepreneurs in how to bring ideas to market.
This article was used with permission from PCT Today.
1/21/2020 | Steve Woodburn, Promo Ponderings
For what seems like a long time, Millennials have dominated the workplace and forever changed the way work is done. However, there’s a new generation in town that’s about to dominate the business world. If you get as confused on defining various generations as I often do, here’s a quick primer.
Those called “The Greatest Generation” were born between 1910 and 1924 and a great many of them fought in WWII (1941 – 1945).
They begat the now infamous “Baby Boomers”, born roughly between 1945 and 1964.
Next came “Gen X”, born between 1965 and 1979.
“Millennials” started arriving in 1980 and wrapped up in 1994.
“Gen Z” is the generation just hitting the workforce and were born between the years 1995 and 2015.
Our world is much different than it was in 1945. Back then, hi-tech was a very large black and white television in your living room that picked up three channels, and radio was still the dominant medium. Gen Z is the first generation to be immersed in a digital world almost from the day they were born and beginning in 2020 approximately 24% of the workforce will be from Generation Z.
Why should you care? If you own a business, manage people, or are in sales, you’ll need to understand what makes this group far different than the Millennials before them and what that means as they become co-workers and buyers.
Hard to believe, but unlike most Millennials, Gen Z would rather have face-to-face conversations than text. This despite their being connected to the digital world since they were very young and spending on average, three hours a day on mobile devices.
Stability is important for them as they remember seeing their parents terrified on 9/11 and then facing economic uncertainties as the Great Recession hit in 2008. As a result, those in Gen Z seek financial security and job stability and will stay in a job longer than Millennials, but will look for promotions and raises to stay engaged.
Social justice is important to Gen Z and they want to make a difference. From race relations, to politics, to environmental policies, these young people are as vocal as Boomers were in the 60’s and 70’s. As an employer, this means when interviewing Gen Z’s, they’ll want to know why your company exists and how their role will contribute to your overall vision. They’re excellent team players if they see the bigger picture of their work and contributions to the company.
They abhor student debt so are much more mindful in choosing an affordable college that will leave them with little or no student loans. While the numbers aren’t in yet, it’s looking like many in Gen Z are deciding whether a college education is even worth the time and expense. The digital world is their sandbox, a place they can learn the skills they need with just-in-time learning and oftentimes for free or at very little cost. Given that, why spend four years and tens of thousands of dollars when you can be gaining real-world experience right out of high school?
Because of their having always lived in a connected world, Gen Z is able to multitask much more effortlessly than previous generations. They easily switch between tasks and can quickly check updates on a variety of apps to ensure they stay in touch. If your work environment requires multitasking, Gen Z could be a perfect fit. They also don’t delineate as much between work and home and may end up starting a task at work and finishing it up on the subway ride home or while they’re watching TV in the evenings.
You’ll find connecting with Gen Z will be a balancing act. While they crave face-to-face interactions, you will also need to engage them on social media to gain their trust and build rapport.
At the end of the day, we’re all human and have similar needs and values no matter which generation we hail from. Respect, integrity, trust, and loyalty are just a few of the traits we look for in others whether we’re a business owner, a leader, or a co-worker. And as John Maxwell, author and speaker on business and leadership says, “True success comes only when every generation continues to develop the next generation.” And that’s a worthy goal we can all strive towards.
This article was used with permission from PromoCorner, https://www.promocorner.com/promojournal/Five-Reasons-Why-Gen-Z-and-Millennial%E2%80%99s-are-Different?i=3934
Business, product and service names affiliated with a single word or acronym are more than ubiquitous in today’s brevity-and catch-phrase-driven consumer markets. The promotional products industry is chock-full of products that are imprinted, engraved or embroidered with a company name, logo or acronym. In an instant, the average American could likely recite a number of products or services based on a simple word, symbol or acronym: Apple, Cheerios, Nike, Bambi, IBM, NRA and so on. Promotional Product Association International’s widely-known acronym, “PPAI,” its “Mark of a Professional” logo and The PPAI Expo mark also come to mind.
But, when is a mark or acronym protected from use by others? This article explores the trademark and service mark protection statute called the Lanham Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1125.
Briefly, the Lanham Act, which was enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1946, prohibits the use of protected marks (or similar versions thereof) in a way that is likely to confuse consumers. Someone who believes that a violation of the Lanham Act (15 U.S.C. § 1125(a)) exists must show (1) that the person’s business or service name, acronym or logo is entitled to protection and (2) that an alleged infringer’s name, acronym or logo is identical to those marks or so similar that they are likely to confuse or deceive consumers.
You are likely thinking, “OMG! Are our service and product acronyms and names, and those of our clients, protected?” That can be a tricky question to answer, and the devil is in the details. Moreover, the analysis may vary, depending on the judicial circuit in which the issue is presented.
As a general rule, legal protection is only available to “distinctive” marks. Distinctive marks are marks that serve the purpose of identifying the source of the goods or services, which can occur by word usage or market reputation. “Distinction” of a mark is not always easy to determine and, in many cases, the subtleties in this area of law could result in COB (closure of business) or SOL (sorry, out of luck).
In the case of Welding Services Inc. v. Forman, 509 F.3d 1351 (11th Cir. 2007), the court described how or when a mark may be “distinct” as follows: “Some marks are inherently distinctive; some marks, though not inherently distinctive, acquire distinctiveness by becoming associated in the minds of the public with the products or services offered by the proprietor of the mark; and some marks can never become distinctive.”
To determine “distinctiveness,” courts generally consider four categories of marks: (1) fanciful or arbitrary, (2) suggestive, (3) descriptive and (4) generic.
Arbitrary Or Fanciful Marks
An arbitrary or fanciful mark bears no logical relationship to the product or service it is used to represent. Examples include Exxon, Kodak and Xerox, each being made-up words crafted to represent a product or service.
A suggestive mark refers to some characteristic of the goods but requires the consumer to take an “imaginational leap” to get from the mark to the product or service. In the case of Peaceable Planet, Inc. v. Ty, Inc., 362 F.3d 986 (7th Cir. 2004), a toy camel product named “Niles” was found to be a protected suggestive mark because it required an imaginational leap from the name to the Nile River. As the “Niles court” noted in its opinion, “‘Niles’ may evoke but it certainly does not describe a camel, any more than ‘Pluto’ describes a dog, ‘Bambi’ a fawn, ‘Garfield’ a cat or ‘Charlotte’ a spider.”
A descriptive mark identifies a characteristic or quality of the service or product. Examples of descriptive marks are “Vision Center” for eye-care services and “All Bran” for a food product. In the 1992 case of Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. v. McNeil-P.P.C., Inc., 973 F.2d 1033 (2d Cir. 1992), the court adjudicated whether the use of “PM” in the name of a nighttime headache medication was a protectable mark, and the court found that the “PM” was descriptive and not suggestive or generic.
Marks that are fanciful, arbitrary or suggestive are inherently protected; there is generally no need to show secondary meaning in the marketplace. On the other hand, descriptive marks are protected only if there is a secondary meaning to the mark or usage.
Whether a name has attained secondary meaning depends on many factors, and a non-exclusive list of factors considered by the courts includes: the length and nature of the mark’s use, the nature and extent of advertising and promotion of the mark, the efforts of the business owner to promote a conscious connection between the mark and the business, and the degree of actual recognition by the public that the name designates the business owner’s product or service.
Courts generally find that generic marks can never become a protected trademark. Generic marks essentially inform the consumer precisely what class of product or services is marketed. “Light beer,” for example, has been described as generic, but the acronym “L.A.” used in low-alcohol beer labels has been described as a descriptive mark. In the 2007 opinion of Welding Services Inc. v. Forman, 509 F.3d 1351 (11th Cir. 2007), the court denied protection for a three-letter encircled acronym logo—“WSI”—because the abbreviation had not acquired a meaning distinct from the generic business name with which the acronym was associated: Welding Services, Inc. Thus, the WSI logo was also deemed generic. A generic name may also be a term by which the product or service itself is commonly known, such as “Kleenex” or “Escalator,” even if the mark was once registered and protected.
Generic-ness, if you will, focuses on the use of the term and not necessarily the term itself. As the court in Soweco, Inc. v. Shell Oil Co., 617 F.2d 1178 (5th Cir. 1980) described: “A word may be generic of some things and not of others: ‘ivory’ is generic of elephant tusks but arbitrary as applied to soap.”
Consider reviewing you or your client’s trade names, acronyms, symbols and other valuable business- or service-related identifiers. In your review, factor in your enhanced understanding of the protections for the various categories of marks and consider modifying your marketing efforts to enhance any “secondary meaning” that may be associated with descriptive marks. Consider also whether any secondary meaning remains relevant in today’s marketplace. As the court in Texas Pig Stands, Inc. v. Hard Rock Cafe International, Inc., 951 F.2d 684 (5th Cir. 1992) aptly described, “Whether ‘pig sandwich’ has acquired a secondary meaning greatly depends on whether the question is asked in 1930, shortly after the incipience of Pig Stands, or in 1990.”
Read more about some of the cases cited in this article:
Cory Halliburton is an attorney with Weycer, Kaplan, Pulaski & Zuber, P.C. (WKPZ), with officers in Dallas, Houston and Arlington, Texas, and he serves as general counsel for PPAI. This article is for general informational purposes only; it is not legal advice and should not be relied upon as such. There may be other federal or state laws that provide a means to protect trade or service marks. Each recipient is encouraged to consult independent legal counsel before making any decisions concerning the matters in this communication.
This article was used with permission from PPB Magazine, January 2020
The labor market should remain tight in 2020, despite the pace of job growth easing off. And while The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index declined in December—now standing at 109.68, down from 110.51 in November and marking a 1.2 percent decline in the index over the past 12 months—its behavior is in line with expectations, given the labor market’s expansion.
“The Employment Trends Index decreased in December and continues to be on a flat trend since the summer of 2018,” says Gad Levanon, head of The Conference Board Labor Markets Institute. “In the current state of the labor market, a flat index is consistent with an ongoing labor market expansion. We expect job growth to remain solid and the labor market to continue tightening. In Friday’s job report, the broadest measure of labor market slack, known as the U6 rate, fell to 6.7 percent, the lowest level on record. Such a tight labor market is a growing obstacle for further economic growth, but not a big enough obstacle to derail the U.S. economy from its two-percent growth trajectory.”
In determining its Employment Trends Index, the Conference Board aggregates eight labor market indicators that it has found are accurate within their own areas. It notes that aggregated individual indicators are placed into a composite index to filter out “noise” and show underlying trends more clearly. December’s decrease in The Conference Board’s Employment Trends Index was fueled by negative contributions from five of the eight components.
On Friday, the federal government reported that the U.S. economy added 145,000 jobs in December and the unemployment rate remained at 3.5 percent. Job creation concentrated primarily in the services and construction sectors, while the decline of 12,000 jobs in manufacturing shows that this part of the economy is still weak. The Conference Board notes that easing trade tensions between China and the U.S. may help to further improve business confidence in 2020.
In 2019, the unemployment rate reached its lowest point since the late 1960s, and job growth was strong with an average of 176,000 jobs added per month, although just over 20-percent slower than the average of 223,000 in 2018. In its analysis, The Conference Board highlights that the labor market performance in 2019 should therefore be considered a significant achievement after an economic expansion of over 10 years.
While The Conference Board expects employment growth to somewhat moderate in 2020, the labor market will likely continue to tighten further as the working-age population is barely growing and labor force participation rates are only slowly increasing. It says that employers hiring blue-collar and manual services workers will have a harder time recruiting and retaining current employees. For these workers it also sees strong wage acceleration, much faster than growth in the average hourly earnings, which stagnated in 2019 at around 3.2 percent and weakened in December to 2.9 percent. Slower wage growth for highly educated management and professional workers has held back average wage growth for all workers.
Name: David Lever, CAS
Title: Director, Sales
Company: Otto International, Inc.
What is your title/role within your company?
What do you like best about your company?
How were you introduced to the promotional products industry?
If you had to pick one, what is your favorite promotional product?
Tell us something about you that most people may not know.
Consumers (and the planet) asked for eco-friendly, and the promotional products industry has delivered with green merchandise that’s impressionable, on trend and serves as a conversation-starter for end users. When is the last time you heard about a sustainable product or learned of a company that donates a portion of its proceeds to a green charity? The answer is probably very recently, with sustainability driving demand in the U.S. and worldwide, according to Forbes. And good thing, too, because environmental issues, like global warming, deforestation and ocean pollution, can benefit from exposure of eco-conscious products by stirring awareness and encouraging action.
Nurture The Planet, Nurture Your Brand
If Earth had a theme song right now, it would be Charles Bradley’s Changes. Earth is, undoubtedly, going through some major changes, and not all of them are good. As of October 2019, only 26.9 percent of the world’s forests and 68.5 percent of the world’s coral reefs remained intact, according to The World Counter, a “live” counter that uses data from organizations across the globe to indicate world stats in real time. The global ocean has risen just over three inches since the start of satellite sea level recordkeeping in 1993, according to climate.org, and an estimated 14 billion pounds of trash, most of it plastic, is dumped in the world’s oceans every year, a stat reported by seastewards.org. The latter is such a problem, in fact, that the “plastic soup”—the patches of garbage floating in the oceans—now covers more than 25 million square miles. If this were on land, it would be enough to cover the United States, China, India and Argentina, combined, with garbage. But it doesn’t end there. According to Project Kaisei, a nonprofit that focuses on marine debris, 70 percent of garbage that winds up in the ocean sinks, which means the plastic soup, though massive, doesn’t even account for half of the garbage underwater.
By stepping in, companies are stepping up by incorporating eco-friendly practices into their business.
The major plus here is that companies not only benefit from feel-good work, but enhanced brand perception. To discover the impact of sustainability for brands, Computer Generated Solutions (CGS)—a provider of business and outsourcing services and enterprise learning—conducted its 2019 Retail and Sustainability Survey, which surveyed more than 1,000 Americans, ages 18 to 65. The results indicated that 68 percent of consumers consider sustainability important when making a purchase, so much so they’d be willing to pay more for it: 35 percent would pay 25-percent more than the original price, seven percent would pay 50-percent more, and five percent would pay double. When asked about what makes consumers loyal to a brand, 28 percent of consumers said “sustainable/ethical business practices.”
Right now, sustainability is trending because there’s a dire need for it, but what continues—in part—to drive people to the product is the product itself. For suppliers manufacturing eco-friendly apparel, a large portion of the product’s appeal comes from comfort and structure, and at the most fundamental level, the garment’s fibers, which can have a major effect on a company’s sustainability. There are many eco-friendly fibers to consider when manufacturing clothing, like recycled polyester, bamboo, Pinatex (pineapple leather), fish leather, organic linen, cork and organic cotton. But hemp is particularly popular—and no, it isn’t because of the legal marijuana boom. Here’s more about the fiber and its many benefits.
According to Global Stewards, organic hemp is made from cannabis sativa fibers or industrial hemp. Hemp fibers, often referred to as “bast,” grow outside of the plant’s stalk and are cultivated by hand. The hemp fibers are fast-growing, reaching between three and 15-feet tall at the 11-week maturation point, and they grow in colors ranging from creamy white to green, brown and black. Hemp requires little water, no pesticides and naturally fertilizes the soil it grows in, and because it’s low-maintenance, it costs less to cultivate. Hemp also produces two-to-three times more fiber per acre than cotton, and is 95-percent UV-resistant, mold-resistant, hypo-allergenic, non-irritating and pest-resistant. It’s also a strong fiber—up to four times stronger than cotton—which means clothing made from hemp fibers will last longer. One of the oldest fibers in the world, first spun to make clothing some 10,000 years ago, hemp is also antibacterial and durable, and it continues to soften the more it’s washed. Oftentimes, it’s blended with other fibers, like organic cotton or flax. Other than apparel, hemp can be used to make paper, rope, paint, biodegradable plastics, food, insulation, horticultural bedding for animals and stuffing for upholstery.
Watches aren't usually associated with eco-consciousness, but this Eco-Drive line of watches run without batteries. The watches are created using a technology launched in 1976 that exclusively powers the watch using any light source, whether natural, artificial and even dim light--indoors or outdoors--using a rechargeable lithium ion power cell. The end user never has to worry about losing track of time, and the brand salvages resources; within a year's time, if all the used batteries from Citizen Watches were stacked on top of one another, it would be taller than the Empire State Building.
Citizen Watch America / PPAI 410292, S1 / www.citizenwatch.com
The 100LS Unisex Ultimate Long-Sleeve Tee is made from 60-percent cotton and 40-percent recycled polyester fiber made from recycled materials, reducing petroleum and greenhouse gases associated with manufacturing, and conserving water and energy. The tee is 15-percent heavier than most basic tees, and is dyed using 30-perecnt ColorZen cotton, which allows cotton to be dyed using 90-percent less water, 75-percent less energy and 95-percent fewer chemicals. Available in XS-3XL in 16 colors, shown in heather gray.
Threadfast Apparel / PPAI 622344, S6 / www.threadfastapparel.com
The 200RV Women's Ultimate Short-Sleeve Tee is made with eco-consciousness top of mind. The 60-percent cotton and 40-percent recycled polyester tee is crafted using recycled materials--when recycled polyester is used to make clothing, it requires 70-percent less energy, 72-percent less CO2 emissions and 86-percent less water. Available for select styles and colors, clients can opt for digitally-enabled radio frequency identification (RFID) tags, which end users can use to access an evergreen brand message. Available in S-2XL in 18 colors, shown in red.
Threadfast Apparel / PPAI 622344, S6 / www.threadfastapparel.com
With a natural softness and a worn, vintage finish, the Alternative Eco Ideal Stars Tee is a go-to selection for a casual look. With details including a bound neckband, blind hem stitching detail, and an allover star print, this made-in-the-USA garment is fashioned from Eco-Jersey, a blend of fibers that includes recycled and organic materials. The tee is decorated with eco-friendly dyes, further reducing the carbon footprint, and can include a three-color, full chest screen print. Available in S-XL.
BIC Graphic NA / PPAI 114187, S13 / www.bicgraphic.com
Give end users a product they'll wear throughout the coming (and hopefully not too long) winter--while ensuring all eyes are on your brand. These men's sweatpants are uniquely created for a customized fit, using different front and back measurements. The pill-resistant, machine-washable pants also include an elastic-covered waist and leg cuffs. Made with five-percent polyester created from recycled plastic bottles, the product is available in S-3XL in grey, navy blue and black (shown). Customize with a three-color imprint on the left leg.
BIC Graphic NA / PPAI 114187, S13 / www.bicgraphic.com
It's an oxymoron: get endless exposure while blocking out rays. The Flexfit Hydro Grid Stretch cap is water-repellent, made from EcoDry, flourine-free, 100-percent polyester grid fabric. The fitted hat features a structured, mid profile, three-and-a-half-inch crown and comes with a Permacurv visor. Available in S/M and L/XL in black, navy, white and grey (shown).
Kati Sportcap / PPAI 113758, S5 / www.katisportcap.com
For a cap with a no-nonsense Velcro closure on the back, the Mega Cap PET Recycled Structured features a mid-profile and six-panel construction, along with a pre-curved visor and hook-and-loop closure. The cap is made from 50-percent cotton and 50-percent recycled polyethylene terephthalate (PET), a plastic resin. When PET fabric is recycled, it breaks down into smaller fragments, which can be used to absorb toxins from water and soil. Available in one-size-fits-all in black, grey, khaki, navy, white and red (shown).
Crafted with quality, comfort and eco-consciousness as a focus, the Eco Chunky Cable Poncho is made using 75-percent recycled cotton and 25-percent polyester made from recycled materials. This made-in-the-USA poncho, available on one-size-fits-all, is also timeless, in that it's great as a transition garment for cool summer nights or brisk autumn days. Color options include hemp, black, aluminum (shown), charcoal and milk.
In2Green / PPAI 748975, S1 / www.in2green.com
Truly embracing sustainability, this 100% Recycled Re-Spun Tee is made from consumers' recycled, donated tees. Giving an entirely new life and look to an existing product, the tees are made using technology like UV sanitation--a waterless process--without the use of added chemicals. Added dyes aren't part of the process, either as every color is the result of combining hundreds of recycled tees of the same color. So far, 121,346 tees have been collected and repurposed by Marine Layer, and end users, clients and business owners alike can donate their used tees directly through its website.
Marine Layer, Inc. / PPAI 690355, S1 / www.marinelayer.com
A bestseller, the Afternoon Hoodie got its name from being the "definition of afternoon delight," according to Marine Layer. The hoodie is made from a blend of 50-percent, USA-sourced Supina cotton and 50-percent Micro Modal--which is sourced from sustainably grown beechwood trees--for a resulting hand feel that's so soft, it's compared to a cloud. And with plenty of room for a bold brand message, you can't go wrong with a repurposed product that packs a (green) punch.
Marine Layer, Inc. / PPAI 690355, S1 / www.marinelayer.com
The EcoSmart Collection isn't only trendy--its sweatshits and hoodies are closet staples, and ones that'll be well-received by end users. The sweatshirts are made to fit just below the wearer's natural waistline, while high-stitch density ensures the garment will last longer without piling. But in addition, all EcoSmart products have helped keep nearly 50 million plastic bottles from the world's landfills each year. From left, the Hanes ComfortBlend EcoSmart Crew Sweatshirt in stonewashed green, the Hanes ComfortSoft EcoSmart Women's Crewneck Sweatshirt in pale pink and the Hanes ComfortBlend EcoSmart Pullover Hood in deep royal and denim blue.
Hanes/Champion / PPAI 191138, S10 / www.hanes.com
It's raining, it's pouring--but you'll be thankful your end users have their ponchos, especially the Biodegradable Rain Poncho - Standard * Plant. The poncho, which can be adorned with a logo or brand message, is 100-percent compostable and, when disposed of correctly, will decompose and convert to soil. The poncho is made from bioplastics, including natural starch and sugar alcohol, and it's also non-GMO. Available in a milky white color (shown).
Josanto, LLC / PPAI 720927, S1 / www.josanto.com
According to CGS’s survey, Americans believe it is most imperative for the following product categories to include eco-friendly and sustainable options.
Here’s an example of eco-friendly done right.
BELLA + CANVAS. The Los Angeles-based supplier leaves virtually no landfill at its Los Angeles headquarters and manufacturing facility, because anything that isn’t used is recycled. Leftover or scrapped fabric is converted into a myriad of goods, like baby bibs or upholstery stuffing, and cutting processes have been enhanced to reduce the use of plastic. BELLA + CANVAS uses one-seventh the water of an average clothing manufacturer, saving 24 million gallons per week, and water that is used goes through a filtration system, so it can also be recycled. In the headquarters, the company uses solar energy to power its sewing and cutting machines, motion-sensor LED lighting and skylights, and provides electric car-charging stations for its employees.
But aside from its facilities and products, the company is dedicated to the working conditions of its employees and to remaining American-made. BELLA + CANVAS manufactures in the United States and employs more than 1,000 people in LA. The company is also certified by W.R.A.P.—a nonprofit team of global social compliance experts—for human resources management, health and safety standards, environmental and eco-friendly practices, and legal compliance, including imports and exports, customs compliance and security standards.
Danielle Renda is associate editor of PPB.
Used with permission from PPAI Publications
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