Live from PRINTING United Expo: Complementing Hard Goods and Print Products with Apparel
Apparel, hard goods and print products might all seem separate, but they’ve never been more related than they are right now. For starters, they’re all under the larger print ecosystem of items that can be personalized and decorated.
But, since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, apparel has been a complementary piece along with items like drinkware and paper products in kits. These kits have been big for companies trying to reach their employees working remotely, or maybe as a way to appeal to potential new hires. The trend of kitting isn’t going away any time soon, regardless of things opening back up.
“To me, COVID has introduced this kitting direct delivery component that if I were sitting in a decorator’s seat, I would be highly focused on that,” says Mike Crane from HALO Branded Solutions during the Future State session titled, “Why are Promotional Products Important to Apparel Decorators?” “That is a part of everything that we’re doing now. A lot of times the decorator is the last point before it’s going to go to the client. I would see that as the future. I think it’s going to end up there.”
If you’re a distributor who specializes in hard goods, say journals or pens or water bottles, and you’re thinking of adding apparel into the mix, John Morris, executive director of Club Colors, says that finding an apparel decorator is a lot like a job interview. You’re not just looking for someone who can do the job. You’re looking for someone who shares similar values and principles as you. It’s like finding a new employee for your company. You want someone who is working toward the same goal as you, because they’re now an extension of your brand. The way he sees it, it’s not a value fit, it’s a value-add.
“I don’t want 100 people like me,” he says. “I need 99 who are better than me.”
Apparel is effective. Morris remembers one instance from his days in consultancy where trucking companies were struggling to find drivers. One had the opposite problem. He found that the company that attracted and maintained the strongest driver fleet also had the best apparel. Every time their drivers walked around a truck stop, they were recruiters.
The saying about apparel creating a walking billboard is true. If you can tie that in with other products, you create a multisensory, all-encompassing brand experience.