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Selling promotional items - your opinions are truly appreciated.

Discussion in 'General Business Forum' started by WillLoxley, Jan 9, 2014.

  1. WillLoxley

    WillLoxley UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 318 Likes: 17
    Hullo all,

    I've been working with the Prince's Trust, in order to find a way to bring some product ideas of mine to market. Essentially it's a range of well designed, colourful desk accessories - with an eye to beautify everything one would find in an office! Now an issue I have with just setting up a 'site and selling retail and then selling to businesses is that the orders have to be rather large (from China), by virtue of the MOQ requirements.

    So far from the PT the message I've got is I really need to get large orders in place, or at least scout out the possibility before ordering said items. I had a meeting today and was nudged towards offering my items as promotional pieces for businesses - now, my prices aren't the cheapest, neither are they meant to be competitive on that level, but IMO there's nothing as 'nice' looking on the market as it stands.

    I suppose the essence of my question is whether there's room in promotional goods for items which aren't super cheap, but which are designed with a theme in mind and to be genuinely attractive rather than simply functional?

    Any replies will be prized, thanks!
    Posted: Jan 9, 2014 By: WillLoxley Member since: Dec 11, 2012
  2. Budding Consultant

    Budding Consultant UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 33 Likes: 2
    Hi Will,

    I guess my first concern when reading your product is that the USP seems to be the aesthetics of the product - which it totally reliant on each individuals preference. What you might find the best looking in the market might not be what I find the best looking. Herein lies a major flaw.

    I'm also struggling to see a firms reasoning for paying more money for a nicer looking stapler. If I were purchasing items like this for my organization, I'd be more inclined to choose based on price over looks - at the end of the day, we're here to make money! Market research may prove me wrong though...

    Of course economies of scale dictate that the bigger the purchase, the cheaper the price; have you conducted any market research to identify any viable retail opportunities? From the information we have it seems like B2B is your best option by far.

    Anyway to answer your question, no, I don't think there is a gap in the market for promo goods that are overpriced due to their appearance. I can't see how 'attractive' you can make desk accessories look? I've also never said to myself 'my word, that desk accessory is ugly!' - which leads me to believe most people will go for a good quality cheaper alternative to a more expensive, good quality item which is better looking.

    I hope this helps in some way.
    Posted: Jan 9, 2014 By: Budding Consultant Member since: Jan 8, 2014
  3. BusinessDeli

    BusinessDeli UKBF Enthusiast Free Member

    Posts: 553 Likes: 99
    First off, there IS a market for what you want to do so don't shy away from it. That said, you're far from the only person considering or doing this exact same premise. It's going to be tough and most businesses, as mentioned above, will be looking at bog standard stuff to accomplish a job rather than set the world alight with glamourous looks.
    Your target areas are likely going to be those with an interest in design and those that consider themselves trendy.
    Personally, I like things that look good but they also have to offer the 'feel' of being expensive and do a bang up job.
    Posted: Jan 9, 2014 By: BusinessDeli Member since: Sep 2, 2008
  4. ethical PR

    ethical PR UKBF Legend Free Member

    Posts: 6,150 Likes: 1,362
    I don't necessarily agree with the B Consultant. There is always room in the market for quality, well designed high end products whether in the business or the consumer market .

    However you will need to do research with your potential target market around the items and price points and how best to reach them before committing yourself to any orders. And also look at your competitors their prices points and how they market themselves.

    You will need to identify the sort of sectors who might find 'designer type' office products for example architects, designers, PR , Marketing and advertising companies.

    You may be better looking at providing your goods to an existing supplier in the market, rather than marketing your products directly as your marketing costs would be fairly high if you want to market new products directly to your target audience.
    Posted: Jan 9, 2014 By: ethical PR Member since: Apr 19, 2009
  5. Budding Consultant

    Budding Consultant UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 33 Likes: 2
    My aim wasn't to deter him from pursuing this... I was raising some issues I thought would hinder his chances.

    As Deli has said, this will be a sort of niche if you like. Targeting companies with a design focus and what not - does narrowing your target market down this fine from the outset seem like grounds for a sustainable business you can making a living from? Not for me. And even going after the 'trendy' PR/marketing/design companies - I still think price will play a key part in decision making. Which leads to my next point...

    How expensive are you relative to your competitors OP? It's hard to give you advice when 'not the cheapest' could mean anything from 10% to 100% more than the majority of your competitors...
    Posted: Jan 9, 2014 By: Budding Consultant Member since: Jan 8, 2014
  6. WillLoxley

    WillLoxley UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 318 Likes: 17
    Hi there. My products are about 100% more than the generic offerings out there atm. Tbh I think that this stuff appeals to retail customers more, but because of the large orders (about 500 per colour, with 3 colour per item) I believe that is why the trust push me towards bulk selling.

    Whatever happens, I will have a retail arm too.
    Posted: Jan 10, 2014 By: WillLoxley Member since: Dec 11, 2012
  7. Budding Consultant

    Budding Consultant UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 33 Likes: 2
    I agree when you say the products themselves would be more suited to retail. I can imagine college/university students or new teachers/people with shiny new 'big/proper' jobs picking them up. I can't imagine the volume of sales from this being enough on its own though - not for a sustainable business anyway... Do you have any photos? I'm just curious!
    Posted: Jan 10, 2014 By: Budding Consultant Member since: Jan 8, 2014
  8. WillLoxley

    WillLoxley UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 318 Likes: 17
    Honestly that's how I first approached this, from a retail perspective then hoping to move into more b2b products (as in office suppliers, rather than promotional goods). But given the large order quantities that's why I've been asked to check out other avenues too.

    Hi. I've had a look at competitors and their prices - there isn't really anything similar out there, it's all the generic items with a logo stamped upon it. As my adviser was saying, you want something that people would steal :p, I think my items are worth stealing at the very least!
    Posted: Jan 10, 2014 By: WillLoxley Member since: Dec 11, 2012
  9. WillLoxley

    WillLoxley UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 318 Likes: 17
    Figured I'd give this a weekend bump :) thanks so far
    Posted: Jan 12, 2014 By: WillLoxley Member since: Dec 11, 2012
  10. columbo

    columbo UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 286 Likes: 62
    First of all you have to realize that in any given market. Large organizations only make up for a small percentage of the market. Most businesses out there are Small-to-Medium sized Business. This is probably where you will get most of your enquires from. Now before you go any further. If a small business phones you up next week and asks about 1000 widgets only - will you offer to supply them? This is an important question. Will you be able to resist this order?

    Even more important than this is the question: do you understand the organisational processes at play when they buy promotional products. Do you fully understand why large or "big fish" organisations buy promotional products? If your answer is " to promote their brand" - you only have a superficial understanding of your market.

    You must fully understand what your potential clients are trying to achieve / or what problem they are trying to solve when they are thinking of buying promotional products. Then you will look at your market in totally different way. It is only from this starting point that you can even attempt to answer questions about about price/quality/ design factors of your product.
    Posted: Jan 12, 2014 By: columbo Member since: Jan 27, 2013
  11. GraemeL

    GraemeL Pain in the neck? Full Member - Verified Business

    Posts: 4,627 Likes: 972
    Hello Will,
    as you might recall, commercial office products was my market for 25 years.
    Traditional desk accessories (and other office products) are in now in significant decline. It's a mature market - mature markets lead to reduced prices.

    Is there a demand for upmarket versions - of course. That's true in almost every market. Is the sector for upmarket versions large or growing ? I don't think so. Is it easy to target the buyers of upmarket versions?

    Traditional office supplies is not a market for new entrants to invest anything significant in unless you know what you are doing. " On 2 December 2013, Steven Martin Stokes and Gerald Clifford Smith of FRP Advisory LLP were appointed Joint Administrators of Osborne Stationers Ltd " Osbornes had about 15 branches in the Midlands.

    Office World tried and failed - merged with Staples. Staples are losing money across Europe.

    Have a look in Rymans, Staples and WH Smith. Harrods and Selfridges too. How many products do they offer that are similar (not in price or quality, just the product type - such as desk trays) to yours? It will give you a clue as to how much of the office product market your items represent.

    Not positive, but better to be cautious when buying in bulk from China. Its not the first order on China that is difficult - its the second - the one you order before you have sold very much at all.

    Posted: Jan 12, 2014 By: GraemeL Member since: Sep 7, 2011
  12. columbo

    columbo UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 286 Likes: 62
    Will, Grahame is right - the general stationary market is a saturated market.
    Then you have the Viking Direct /Office depot behemoth to deal with.

    You will have to find a niche for yourself.

    To find a niche, you really have to scratch beneath the surface to get some market opportunities worth exploiting.
    Posted: Jan 12, 2014 By: columbo Member since: Jan 27, 2013
  13. WillLoxley

    WillLoxley UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 318 Likes: 17
    Hi Graham! (And Columbo too). Yeah, I've had a look at a fair few market research reports, the market is not growing, that's for sure, however it's still a large market (or at least, in my opinion it is, given the figures I've seen).

    I'm not going into traditional office supplies - as you say, and columbo pointed out with the 'giants', there's very little point, and I agree entirely there.

    I've basically done what you said there, bar Harrods (at least physically, I haven't popped in) there are a fair few of those items.

    As I said before I personally think that I'll sell more to small/medium size businesses just going with the 'design' factor, and also individuals who'd like such items too, I've just been asked to investigate the idea of promotional goods.

    At the end of the day, if this does work out I'll be wanting to expand into various other items of office-ware/stationery, adding the same branding ethos to create a small emporium of sorts, but that's some time off at least.
    Posted: Jan 12, 2014 By: WillLoxley Member since: Dec 11, 2012
  14. WillLoxley

    WillLoxley UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 318 Likes: 17
    Also I feel the word upmarket might be being used in the wrong way here - the stuff I'm trying to sell isn't luxury, as in it's not hideously inflated in price when compared to the 'bog standard' offerings. It is definitely more expensive though (or they'd be little point in the venture).
    Posted: Jan 13, 2014 By: WillLoxley Member since: Dec 11, 2012
  15. KateCB

    KateCB UKBF Ace Free Member

    Posts: 2,228 Likes: 528
    The problem here is we are blind - we don't know what the product is; a division of my company is capable of producing promotional items (mugs, mousemats, keyrings, pens etc) but the market is saturated, people are keeping money in their pockets, and just how many mugs do customers want? Every year i get a 'personalised' diary from around 17 suppliers - do I want ANY of them? No, I use Outook and a filofax....I don't want ONE diary, never mind 17! 3 years ago they all changed product and sent me a set of 6 printed coasters - 17 sets of 6 printed coasters, allin the same rosewood effect rack......

    Now, if your product is something useful, and indeed multiples could be of benefit to me, then bring it on........ :)
    Posted: Jan 13, 2014 By: KateCB Member since: May 11, 2006
  16. WillLoxley

    WillLoxley UKBF Regular Free Member

    Posts: 318 Likes: 17
    Hi Kate. Do you mean you haven't seen what I was trying to do/sell? I can show you some mockups if you wish so you can get a general idea.
    Posted: Jan 16, 2014 By: WillLoxley Member since: Dec 11, 2012
  17. johno123

    johno123 UKBF Newcomer Free Member

    Posts: 21 Likes: 1
    I work in the promotional products industry. The huge bulk you need to buy from China makes this a huge risk. As you can imagine every customers dream is to buy cheape promotional items that have huge impact. This makes any luxury or more expensive item a tough sell. There are some very effective cheap desk items available so my advice would be to aim your product at retail. This obviously will not fit in with the bulk you will need to buy but there is no point in aiming at the wrong market to try to meet the quantity requirements of your supplier.
    Posted: Jul 8, 2014 By: johno123 Member since: Jul 8, 2014
  18. MojoPromotions

    MojoPromotions UKBF Contributor Full Member

    Posts: 40 Likes: 1
    Hi Will,

    There is definitely a market for high end desktop products as described, we currently supply a good range of high end promotional products already.

    However the problem you may face is that the customers who are in a position / mentality to buy the higher end products are less common. The majority of companys want to spread their reach to as many customers as possible, hence the choice of a lower priced item.

    Good luck with your venture, I hope it is a success!
    Posted: Aug 15, 2014 By: MojoPromotions Member since: Dec 6, 2011