PRINTING United Panel: Creating a Personal Branded Experience Through Kitting
It boomed during the pandemic, but kits featuring all sorts of branded products are here to stay. Since exploding onto the scene, kits have revolutionized the way we look at promotional products. They provide an experience designed to make people feel special. And let’s be honest — who doesn’t love feeling like something was created just for them?
Whether it's a company sending a welcome kit to new employees, sports teams reaching fans at home, or another token of appreciation, end-buyers are looking to include items across product categories ranging from apparel, drinkware, hard goods, and more. That’s why Brendan Menapace, content director for Print & Promo Marketing Magazine, hosted an educational session on kitting alongside Nathan Goldberg, president of Specialized, at PRINTING United Expo last week in Atlanta.
The goal of the session was to educate those in the promo space (or those looking to dip their toes in) about how products can complement each other to create a whole branding experience and urge them to think about how the experience starts at the very first moment thanks to branded packaging and printing.
Goldberg said that kitting really took off for Specialized during the pandemic.
“During the pandemic, with everyone working from home, we got customers calling us saying, ‘Okay so I have 1,000 employees and I want them each to pick a home gift to help them stay connected to the brand, can you ship 1,000 kits people’s houses?’" he said. "So that’s really when we got big time into the kitting"
Personalization is Vital
For Goldberg, the most essential aspect of kits—and promo products in general—is personalization. In his words, “Personalization is the future.”
He recalled attending a trade show in 2000, and saw variable data for the first time. He said he saw postcards with people’s names printed on them or imagery from that person’s part of the country, and once again in his words, that was "rad."
“So I pushed my customers for years towards personalization," Goldberg said. "And when we started talking about kits during the pandemic, I was like, ‘Okay, how can we do a kit that has the company’s name on it and the employee’s name on it, or maybe you open the box and there’s a message that welcomes you to the team?"
The Best Products To Start With
If you’re new to the kitting scene and don’t really know where to start, Goldberg joked to avoid apparel.
“The thing about apparel is that there are these things called sizes," he said. "And I tell my friends I wear a medium, and I don’t really wear a medium, and so what ends up happening is we got a lot of returns from a lot of really unhappy men and women."
Goldberg said that if you’re just starting out, hard goods like mugs, water bottles, and pens are where it’s at because they’re applicable to everyone.
Opt For The Good Stuff
Goldberg explained that when it comes to creating kits, it’s important to him that Specialized tries to find out who the recipients are so that they can create something that’s unique and meaningful to them. It's even more important that those kits aren’t full of cheap products that will only get a small glimpse of the world before finding themselves in the garbage.
Because, ultimately, how many cheap reusable water bottles with logos peeling off do you have that you purposely take to things like sporting events or concerts where you wouldn’t mind “losing” it or leaving it behind?
“I care a lot about the environment, so I don’t want to ship a bunch of garbage across the country to have everybody throw it away,” Goldberg said. “So when I get a customer that asks to do 1,000 kits with the cheapest drinkware we can find, I usually urge them to do something a little bit nicer so that it doesn’t end up in the trash.”
Talk To Your Customers
To secure the best outcome for your customers, Goldberg shared that you just need to talk to them and meet them where they are. Meet with them, figure out what challenges they’re experiencing– whether it's employee retention or just boosting overall morale. Find out what they need, and design a branded experience based on that.
“I had a bank in Tuscon, Arizona, that reached out to us and told us that they were having trouble with prospective accounts not knowing that they existed, so I asked them about their budget and we came up with a two-tiered approach,” Goldberg said.
The first tier was a letter from the CEO using variable data for the recipient, and the second tier involved something as outside-the-box as a drone missing its remote control. The remote would come after the recipient went into the bank.
Goldberg said he wants people to know that you should try to stand out as much as possible when it comes to creating these campaigns.
It Starts With The Packaging
With how popular unboxing videos have become, it’s apparent that packaging is crucial in creating a personalized branded experience.
“The packaging is the experience," Goldberg said. "Take iPhones for example: What’s that experience like of opening up the box with your new phone in it for the time? It’s so satisfying and sometimes I’ll even close it and reopen it."
As the session was winding down and questions from the audience started trickling in, it was apparent that kitting is a major point of interest in the industry. And to be competitive in kitting, it all starts with personalization to achieve an intimate and long-lasting branded experience.