Posted by: brandextenders | August 17, 2010

Food gift glorious food gift!

“Food glorious food…” is the refrain from the orphan boy Oliver in the musical of the same name. Despite our timidity to admit it, most of us love being given food as a thank you by customers, employers and friends. Be it a gift basket, fresh fruit, gourmet food or delectable candy, almost all of us love opening up a gift basket to discover all the fun and delicious products beautifully packaged inside.

 Food gifts have been around as long as humans have populated our earth with the first offerings most likely being dead animals presented after the hunt to loved ones and friends. We’ve become more civilized and the thought of dragging a deer into your client’s office just doesn’t have the significance it once did. Thus an $18 billion industry has grown and thrived over the last hundred years packaging and distributing food in all varieties to companies all over the world.

 The majority of food baskets and gifts are given during the holiday season, from Thanksgiving through New Years however they are a perfect fit in many situations. Think of them as a thank you to customers and employees, an invitation to an event, sales leave-behinds or a prospecting tool, birthday gifts, goodwill gestures (“oops, sorry we messed up that order!!”) and trade-show giveaways. As Tom Riordan, President of industry supplier Maple Ridge Farms said in an article in PPB Magazine, “It’s a product that works in all demographics. Fine chocolates are equally appropriate for a receptionist or a CEO.”

 For those of us in the promotional products industry, chances are your customers will rarely think to ask you about food gifts because they don’t think of us for that. So the onus is on you to bring the topic up and be ready to offer to bring back samples since many people have been burned ordering food gifts online and learning too late the food leaves a bad taste in their recipient’s mouths…literally! Every company’s food gift products look great online or in a catalog, but sampling is the true test to ensure your customers are satisfied with the taste.

 Not all food gift companies operate the same way so it’s important to find a handful of suppliers you feel comfortable working with. What should you look for when choosing a company to partner with on food gifts? Here are a few questions you can ask to see how they do business:

  • One of the most important questions to ask is in regards to the freshness of their product. Appallingly enough, many of the large mail-order food gift companies pre-package their gifts months in advance of the holiday season and pull them off-the-shelf when ordered. Ask if gifts are packed-to-order and inquire about the freshness of the products they sell. Again, this is where sampling can sell the product itself.
  • Ask is they have some sort of sampling program where you can buy a variety of their products at a reduced rate so your customers can try before they buy.
  • Ask about their customization capabilities. Can they brand the packaging with logos? Can they add promotional products you supply to their gifts? Will they use something you supply to package the gifts in such as a cooler or hard hat? The more you can customize the packaging and the gifts the better your chance of food gifts becoming a year-round sale.
  • Inquire about what guarantees they offer and if it’s anything less than a “100% Satisfaction Guarantee” you might want to pass on using that company. Need I say more?
  • Do they ship on-time? Food gifts, more so than many other promotional products, need to arrive by a certain date to ensure freshness so timely shipping is of the utmost importance.  
  • In terms of eco-friendly, consider their packaging options. A good rule of thumb is less than 3% of the packaging should be destined for the landfill. If available, reusable packaging is preferred such as an actual gift basket, a wood box or, as mentioned above, custom packaging like a hard hat, tote bag or cooler.

 The love of food for comfort and appreciation is universal. If you sell promotional products, ask your customers if they use food gifts during the holidays or other times of the year and offer your services. If your company purchases these delights you may be surprised at what you’ve been missing by not using your promotional products professional to guide your choices.

 As author Fran Lebowitz says, “Food is an important part of a balanced diet” and the right food gifts to your customers and employees is also a sure way to touch their hearts.

 With 24 years in promotional marketing, Steve Woodburn works with clients to develop creative and measurable solutions that solve their marketing needs using promotional products, uniform programs, online company stores, point-of-sale initiatives and rewards and recognition. He builds long-term relationships and becomes a trusted advisor and consultant his clients can turn to for all their brand extension needs. You can reach him at: stephen.woodburn@staplespromoproducts.com

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