Why Experiential Food Gift Giving Should Be On Your Radar
To distributors, it might not seem like the best fit. After all, food has an expiration date. How then will your client remember you? The answer is simple — give them an experience they simply cannot forget.
Make It Memorable
Dawn Pilon, account executive for Chocolate Chocolate, Blaine, Washington, believes one of the biggest mistakes distributors can make is underestimating the power and potential of food.
“I think people underestimate the value of memory and the feelings that go along with good food and an experience,” she says. “You know, quite often people say they don’t want to offer a food item because there’s nothing residual, there’s nothing that’s going to sit on their desk. A lot of people love good food and good chocolate, and they remember the experience, and it’s a pretty high value in and of itself.”
Deborah Gaspar, marketing director for NC Custom, Hicksville, New York, is also a fan of experiential gift-giving, and like Pilon, she believes food does create an experience — but it doesn’t have to just be food alone. That’s where the beauty of a kit comes in.
Gaspar says that kits were the result of the pandemic, and they got so popular because during a time of isolation, people really wanted to find ways to connect and be together.
“I think that companies needed to find a way to connect with their employees who were all of a sudden working remotely,” Gaspar says. “I think none of us were used to working remote, and so I think companies needed to find a way to connect with their employees and to connect with their customers.”
Leave a Lasting Effect
Gaspar also points out that with a kit, you’re not only gifting someone an experience, but you can leave something physical behind. For example, NC Custom is rolling out pancake kits, breakfast kits, baking kits and gourmet dinner kits, and with all of them, there is an option for a physical piece of branding — spatulas, aprons, oven mitts, you name it.
“You want to open a kit to have the experience be amazing, but you also want especially for a company to leave something behind,” Gaspar says. “Let’s face it, everybody congregates in the kitchen, so leaving behind an oven mitt or a spatula or something where you’re gonna see it repeatedly with some brand can be really effective. So after the experience is over, make sure you’re leaving behind something that they can remember and use over and over again.”
Maple Ridge Farms, a Mosinee, Wisconsin-based supplier that has been creating corporate gifts for 43 years, also believes kits are an opportunity to help spread brand awareness. A recent case study published on Maple Ridge Farms’ website explains how kits helped a company share a little comfort and holiday spirit with its clients and employees. The solution — nestled in a box wrapped with an ugly sweater-patterned sleeve were Signature English Butter Toffee and a holiday tradition, Peppermint Bark.
But it didn’t stop there. Kitted alongside the treats was an array of other items that included Little Somethings: Thoughtful Tokens Made for Sharing, an ugly sweater holiday ornament that matched the decorative box wrap, and a portable speaker. The final piece that tied it all together was an ugly sweater gift card with a QR code to share a Spotify playlist featuring the company’s employees’ favorite holiday tracks.
From the case study, “Recipients were delighted with the unique expression of holiday spirit and felt truly appreciated.”
Gaspar notes that typically NC Custom sees an influx of holiday orders in mid-November to late November, but now they’re seeing pre-orders as early as August and September.
“We already have had holiday orders in now, and we have pre-orders in now,” she remarks. “I think we’re looking at a month or two shifts earlier. I do think people are concerned with making sure that the holiday orders are in, so right now we’re about a month ahead of where we were last year.”
To avoid a time crunch, Gaspar says distributors should know who they are buying from. This means researching dependable suppliers. Make sure that you’re going to someone who is reliable and is certified who can produce your orders on time,” Gaspar recommends. “I think it’s critical because I think a lot of people out there [are] just sort of selling food because it’s been the trend of where we’ve been going for the past two years.”
Tom Riordan, owner and president of Maple Ridge Farms, echoes that sentiment, adding that an extra level of service gives distributors an advantage.
“The biggest mistake that distributors make when selling food promotions is failing to explain to clients the many benefits of buying from a distributor versus a big box company or internet merchant,” he shares.
Stand Out Before the First Bite
With kits — and food promos in general — the theme seems to be experiential, but the experience shouldn’t start when the client takes their first bite. Packaging makes the first impression.
Pilon says that while Chocolate Chocolate may not have a ton of new chocolate products this year, the company is excited about some expanded printing capabilities in its portfolio.
“We have several ready designs that customers can use and we could drop in their logo, and now we do have the capabilities to add metallic ink to somebody’s supplied art,” Pilon says.
Riordan notes that as a packaging trend, full-color gifts are huge, and Maple Ridge Farms has the option to create wraps for gift boxes and cylinders, as well as full-color stickers for the shipper box to look like a custom gift box.
NC Custom is also on the full-color train with full-color die-cut boxes, along with custom labeling, handled entirely in-house in its creatively kitted division, Gaspar says.
Ready to sell food promos now that you’ve been prepped? Keep these three points in mind to avoid spoilage:
1. Make it an unforgettable experience.
2. Go through a trusted vendor, not someone’s Etsy shop.
3. Remember that an experience starts with the packaging, and have fun with it.