Editor's Picks: Serious Sippers
Go to any meeting—whether it’s for work, school, church, your community or a professional or volunteer organization—and you will notice that nearly everyone has brought along a reusable beverage container. It takes planning and preparation to carry reusable drinkware, but many people choose it over adding their empties to the plastic recycle bin.
According to data from National Geographic, plastic bottles and bottle caps are the third and fourth most-collected plastic trash in the Ocean Conservancy’s annual beach cleanups. As a result of environmental awareness about the pollution caused by single-use bottles, the disposable plastic water bottle has become more of a nuisance than a convenience.
The same push for environmentally-friendly bottles is also influencing the demand for reusable straws, such as those made of stainless steel. “The push to rid the world of single-use straws has created a big market for the industry that you don’t want to miss out on,” says Krista Ward, director of marketing for St. Petersburg, Florida-based supplier Hit Promotional Products.
Reusable drinkware is not only on trend and in demand for consumers, but it can deliver a significant number of impressions at a very low cost when used as a promotional product to enhance brand exposure.
“Drinkware’s return on investment is huge, with 1,400 impressions costing as little as half a cent each over the product’s lifetime,” says Carrie Lewis, marketing/communication manager for Clearwater, Florida-based supplier BIC Graphic NA. She also notes the diversity of this category can work for every industry and every buyer. “A variety of price points and materials are available, so there is a cost-effective style for every customer.”
As one might expect, drinkware sales are booming. More than $2.1 billion was sold in the drinkware category in 2018, according to PPAI’s 2018 Sales Volume Study, making drinkware the second largest product category (behind apparel) based on distributor sales, with almost nine percent of the industry’s $24 billion sold in this category last year.
Coupled with consumer demand for reusable drinkware is an interest in design inspired by those seen at retail. “We feel that end users have more confidence in the quality of a retail brand, and are seeking a retail design and style,” says Peter Hirsch, MAS, president of Houston-based supplier Hirsch Gift.
The trends seen this year include rich and varied color options; mixed material details including cork, bamboo and silicone; high-performance insulation for keeping drinks hot and cold; and drinkware that offers dual functionality, such as built-in speakers and wireless chargers.
Several suppliers say that color plays a key role in what appeals to consumers today. The brighter and flashier, the better. Hirsch says that while traditional colors are still very popular, he’s observed a shift in consumer preference toward neon, wood grain and iridescent colors.
Hit’s Ward says, “Retail looks such as sequins, iridescent colors and fashion metallic colors are gaining in popularity.” Alan Tabasky, vice president and general manager at Medley, Florida-based supplier BEL USA, echoes this sentiment. “Last year, colors were pastel, and this year they seem to point to even brighter colors in the neon and sparkle range,” he says.
Another way suppliers are seeing color used in drinkware is through full-color imprinting. “Don’t overlook four-color process options that were previously unavailable or had imprint durability concerns,” Hirsch says. “Advances in digital printing have increased imprint area and nearly eliminated durability concerns when printed properly.”
Functionality Is In Fashion
Suppliers are also seeing demand for promotional drinkware with multi-use functionality. “The retail trend of adding increased functionality to drinkware is spilling over into the promotional arena,” Ward says. “Features like temperature sensors, built-in Bluetooth speakers and wireless chargers are being added to bottles and tumblers.”
Lewis says the technology that keeps beverages in tumblers hot or cold for hours is now in demand for sport bottles as well. “We’ve seen double-wall, vacuum-insulated sport bottles growing in popularity in retail, and that trend is crossing into promo because people are willing to pay more for the added functionality,” she adds.
Tabasky offers good advice to distributors who want to sell more promotional drinkware to clients: Buy and sell what you like.
“You truly need to be inspired by the item you are selling for your enthusiasm to show through,” he says. “Don’t fall into the trap of pushing something with a better margin if you do not love the product yourself. If you like it, if you use it yourself, you are more than halfway to a sale.”
Part of the Zulu-Ello-Pogo Drinkware line, the COLE Ello Cole Vacuum Stainless Tumbler is a great go-to tumbler that is leak-proof and vacuum-insulated to keep beverages hot for up to five hours and cold for up to 20 hours. BPA-free, it features a patented, leak-proof, sealing slider lid and a built-in cork coaster bottom that protects surfaces while still fitting in standard car cup holders.
Gold Bond, Inc. / PPAI 113974, S10 / www.goldbondinc.com
A great gift for sporting events like marathons, charity runs and cycling races, the Translucent Jogger Bottle with Flip Top Lid is built for athletes on the run. The bottle’s contoured shape makes it easy to hold and its 26-ounce capacity keeps you hydrated throughout your workout.
Keystone Line / PPAI 111040, S9 / www.keystoneline.com
Toast the success of your next campaign with this 14-ounce Stainless Steel Twisting Tumbler With Lid. This stylish tumbler features a polypropylene insert and twisted exterior that will separate your brand from the bunch. It keeps liquids hot or cold for an extended period, making it a diverse cup that keeps your brand in recipients’ hands. Pictured with optional holiday packaging.
Jornik / PPAI 111065, S6 / www.jornik.com
Made from BPA-free Eastman Triton polyester, the KOR Nava Water Bottle with Filter filters ordinary tap water as the user sips through the coconut shell filter straw. Featuring a convenient, one-handed push-button cap, this water bottle uses EasyFlow technology for rapid water flow.
St Regis Group / PPAI 230188, S6 / www.stregisgrp.com
Memobottle is a design-savvy alternative to single-use water bottles that’s supplied in premium packaging with an optional full-color custom wrap. The reusable bottle is optimized for travel and convenience, sliding neatly into bags, clutches and pockets. From its innovative shape to the premium grade packaging, the product aims to inspire a more reusable community and reduce single-use bottle consumption.
Calverley, Inc. / PPAI 752653, S1 / www.calverley.com
The 16-ounce Tritan Rumble keeps users hydrated and entertained with its wireless speaker hidden in the base that uses high-def Bluetooth 4.0 technology. It pairs from up to 30 feet away and plays for up to 90 minutes on a single charge. It’s also BPA free, and impact and shatter resistant with an easy-carry handle. Available in seven translucent colors: charcoal with black, blue, gray, lime green, orange, purple and red.
Hit Promotional Products / PPAI 113910, S13 / www.hitpromo.net
The Little Sipper Collapsible Straw is designed for convenience on the go. The stainless-steel straw extends to 8¼ inches for use and collapses to a compact three inches for easy storage. This set includes a cleaning brush that fits inside the compact, protective travel case with a handy carabiner clip that attaches to keychains, straps and backpacks. The set’s small size makes it a handy giveaway at trade shows, wellness fairs and more.
Beacon Promotions / PPAI 113702, S10 / www.beaconpromotions.com
The 16-ounce Urban Peak Caturra Trail Vacuum Tumbler includes a durable powder-coated finish and a spill-proof lid, making it a great commuting companion. Featuring a plastic flip-top design and snap-locking lid closure, this vacuum-insulated tumbler has a copper-lined, deep draw liner to maintain optimal drinking temperatures. And it can keep ice chilled for up to 24 hours.
Starline USA, Inc. / PPAI 112719, S10 / www.starline.com
Just introduced in September, the Koozie Bottle/Can Kooler with D-ring and Clip is a multi-purpose cooler that holds cans as well as 16- to 18-ounce bottles. Perfect for the on-the-go hiker, outdoorsman and athlete, this cooler is made of Koozie brand wetsuit-like material that keeps cans and bottles chilled while on the move. Special features include convenient clips that can slide and hold the bottle on a belt as well as a D-ring, so it can be attached to a carabiner.
BIC Graphic NA / PPAI 114187, S13 / www.bicgraphic.com
Perfect for those who prefer the hypoallergenic properties of a glass bottle with the insulating power of vacuum-sealed stainless steel, the 20-ounce Corkcicle Hybrid Canteen is designed with Corkcicle’s signature flat sides and a silicone bottom. This hypoallergenic glass canteen features a convenient wide mouth, twist on/off stainless steel base, non-slip bottom and threaded cap.
Hirsch Gift, Inc. / PPAI 221823, S9 / www.hirschgift.com
Made of food-grade stainless steel, the BPA-free H2Go Ascent thermal tumbler keeps 25 ounces of your favorite liquid cold for 16 hours or hot for eight hours, making it the perfect beverage storage solution for camping and hiking trips. The bottle’s copper-plated interior wall prevents heat from entering the double walls by thermal radiation. Design accents include a threaded gear-shaped insulated lid, carrying handle, high-polish rim and powder-coated finish.
ETS Express / PPAI 135148, S11 / www.etsexpress.com
Who says you can’t take it with you? This 12-ounce Stainless Steel Vacuum Wine Cup has a drink-thru lid and copper insulation that keeps wine or any other drink cold for 12 hours. It comes in frosted blue, frosted red, frosted aqua, frosted lime or silver with a silkscreened imprint.
Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant/Lanco / PPAI 111662, S7 / www.chocolateinn.com
There are a lot of promotional drinkware products out there. How do you know which product is the best pick for your client? PPB spoke with Kim Reinecker, MAS, regional manager southwest at Grand Island, New York-based supplier Starline USA, Inc., for tips to keep in mind when advising your client about drinkware.
Vacuum-insulated drinkware is always a good choice, particularly now. “The popularity of vacuum-insulated drinkware in the retail marketplace has skyrocketed, thanks to the marketing efforts of several large retail brands,” Reinecker says. (For more information on vacuum insulation, see the sidebar Tumbler Insulation 101 on page 53)
Vacuum-insulated water bottles and tumblers are also not as pricey as they once were. “Years ago, the manufacturing of vacuum-insulated tumblers was very expensive due to a large rejection rate,” Reinecker says. “However, new manufacturing technology has reduced that issue, making a once cost-prohibitive item more reasonably priced.”
Something else to consider is whether the drinkware you buy has a powder-coated finish—a rough matte finish that doesn’t sweat as much and is less likely to slip out of your hands.
“The new trend is powder-coated finishes on vacuum-insulated drinkware,” Reinecker says. “They are rich-looking and very durable. Look for vacuum-insulated drinkware that has a high hot and cold retention rate and a copper lining.”
Keep A Lid On It
Also inspect the drinkware product’s lid, as it plays an important role in the quality of the drinkware’s temperature retention. “An open-holed lid will not retain hot and cold for as long as a closed lid will,” Reinecker says.
Logo To Go
Finally, consider the decoration options that are available for that drinkware item to showcase your client’s brand, logo and message. “There will always be a family member who will covet the best tumbler that gets brought home,” Reinecker says. “Make sure your client was the one who gifted that tumbler.”
It’s important to know the different kinds of insulation, so you can explain it clearly to your client. Below, we’ve explained each type of tumbler insulation and ranked them by good, better, best and premium.
Air between the inner and outer walls insulates the beverage inside by forcing hot or cold to transfer through a layer of air. This means it takes longer for heat or cold to escape, so your drink stays at the right temperature longer.
Foam between the inner and outer walls slows down the transfer of hot or cold from the inner wall to the outer wall. Foam insulation helps regulate the temperature inside the tumblr.
In many containers, heat or cold finds its way out through convection. Tumblers with vacuum insulation have a virtually airless space between the walls to stop the convection process and minimize temperature changes. The hot or cold can only radiate between the walls so drinks stay hotter or colder longer.
A copper lining between the inner and outer walls of a tumbler can lead to even better insulation performance. Copper lining helps distribute the hot or cold air more evenly across the entire inner surface, so your drink is able to retain its temperature for even longer periods of time.
Source: BIC Graphic NA
Brittany Glenn is a Dallas, Texas-based writer and former associate editor of PPB.