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Five Minutes With Andrew Klymenko
Trending Today, Gone Tomorrow
The CEO of supplier Aiia talks product innovation and incorporating trends into promotional marketing.
When it comes to trends, promotional products supplier Aiia (PPAI 624878) prefers to set them rather than just spot them. The Ukraine-headquar
tered firm is opening offices in the U.S. and Germany this year, and it also maintains an office in China, where its production and logistics are based.
Between the three locations, Aiia staff focus on identifying what’s hot among consumers and creating promotional opportunities for distributors and their clients through innovative, of-the-moment products that are offered one at a time, for a limited time only. Among the trends for 2017, according to the Aiia team, are the use of mobile apps alongside promotional products, higher-quality pieces with aesthetic appeal, and the inclusion of augmented reality and virtual reality in promotional campaigns.
Aiia CEO Andrew Klymenko spoke with PPB about his company’s trendspotting techniques as well as how distributors can incorporate those trends into their clients’ programs.
PPB How does your team determine product trends for the promotional market?
There are three factors that help us determine the trends. First, we create promotional products to help any company communicate the real value of their brand to the customer. That’s why we always explore the latest and best ways the brand can interact with the audiences.
We collaborate with such brands as Google, Amazon and MasterCard, and have interviewed their top decision makers about what kind of promotional products they really want for their customers. Second, we often interview our distributors about what their clients need. Third, we do extensive weekly research on retail product trends, which directly influence the promotional products market.
Moreover, we always stay true to our philosophy. We believe any promotional product should communicate the value of the brand and bring sheer emotion to any giveaway or other brand campaign. That’s why we put people’s feelings first when creating new products.
PPB What’s your process for developing products that match these trends?
From the initial concept, to research and development, to design, to mass production—everything is done by the aiia team. We’ve created our own product development methods based on design thinking. We deeply explore insights. Then we quickly make prototypes. After, we test them with end users, we make conclusions, and then we repeat the product development cycle.
PPB What types of products are your customers most responsive to?
A few weeks ago we came back from PSI 2017, the leading European trade show of the promotional product industry. We’ve received very positive feedback about our latest products: Find-E, a smart tracker which won’t let you lose your phone, wallet or other precious belongings; and Endless Puzzle, an elegant anti-stress table accessory which we’ve created in collaboration with one of the most renowned industrial designers, Karim Rashid.
Also, our distributors are amazed by the Teemoji, the world's first augmented reality promo t-shirt. This unique combination of a t-shirt and mobile app will let you take fun photos or videos with custom 3D masks or emojis and then share them with friends. The brand [that chooses this shirt] gets much more than just a classy promo t-shirt but the opportunity to engage its current users with fun and quality content, and to reach the endless number of new customers who see the shared content of their friends. You can see all these products on our website, enjoy-aiia.com/products.
PPB How can distributors incorporate these trends into their clients’ projects, particularly the pairing of mobile apps with high-end or high-quality gifts?
Distributors should choose suppliers who implement the latest trends and who can provide complex services such as product design and mobile software development. In doing so, the distributors gain the opportunity to stand out and offer their clients new promotional solutions.
PPB How does your company differ from other suppliers in the promotional products marketplace?
We create a new product every month, replacing the old one. Our distributors always have the freshest and most unique gifts to offer their clients. Our goal is to bring emotion back to giveaways and promotions, through design, technology and attention to detail, but most importantly by the intention behind them. We create high-end promotional products to make more people smile.
Have You Got Five Minutes?
If not, consider this clever method for avoiding interruptions and staying on task.
From cubicle farms to open-floor workspaces, the communal feel of the office can sometimes bring chaos to the orderly workday. How can you stay on task without making co-workers feel like you’re avoiding or ignoring them? Give them a sign.
Team members at The Muse, a career resource firm, had exhausted their current options for working without unexpected distractions—noise-cancelling headphones, work from home days, and a library-type space for quiet work—so they created simple signage to let coworkers know when not to interrupt them.
Studies have shown that the average worker takes up to 25 minutes to recover from even a brief break in focus. Hanging up a sign that lets others know when not to drop by allows Muse workers to experience longer periods of productive work. They’re not alone in enjoying the benefits of signage, either.
Software firm 10,000ft uses a red/yellow/green system that’s available on the internet for others to employ. And, Kuando is a company that produces light-up digital devices that sync with your computer to display red when you’re using apps like Word or even Skype, and display green when you’re on a non-productive app like Facebook.
If you’re ready to implement such a system, make sure you first lay down the rules for everyone. Be clear that the signs you choose must be used in the same way by every team member; also, communicate when signage can’t be used, and encourage everyone to offer alternatives to the unscheduled check-in.
Hello, My Name Is
IKEA acknowledges consumers’ true feelings with a humorous ad campaign.
If you’ve ever put together a piece of furniture from Swedish retail giant IKEA, you know that its products can make or break just about any relationship. The same goes for the holidays, which is when IKEA rolled out a clever ad campaign that renamed its popular furniture after the most frequently Googled relationship issues by Swedish residents.
IKEA’s Retail Therapy website pairs the problems with a product aimed at helping solve the issue while also filling a need for home furnishings. Want to get your man to say ‘I love you’? Buy him a magnetic writing board. Is your sister’s stuff taking over your shared bedroom? Tell Mom and Dad to buy that storage bed.
If retail products can meet those personal challenges, imagine what promotional products do for corporate clients. Does your cubicle neighbor bring tuna for lunch? How about some custom air fresheners? The problem-solving possibilities are endless.
Two For The Road
Research reveals two types of brand loyalty and the factors that drive them.
If you’ve got a stable of loyal, longtime customers, chances are they fall into one of two categories: satisfied and committed. The Relentless Relevance Study from brand and marketing firm Prophet looked at 400 brands and measured more than 20 points of brand relevance.
What the study shows is that the satisfied customers buy regularly (often as a habit) because they appreciate consistency in performance over a period of time. The brand they follow is familiar and dependable. For many brands, the satisfied customer makes up the core loyalty group. These companies include staple brands such as Band-Aid and Betty Crocker.
The committed customers are more intense brand ambassadors, displaying an emotional attachment to their preferred brands and acting as advocates, telling others about their experiences. Brands with products that require a higher level of involvement should nurture their committed client relationships to build a core group of fans from this particular group.
Which core group should your brand pursue? It depends on your products and services, of course. Are you changing over time, branching out into what’s new and innovative, always striving to achieve cutting-edge status? If so, consider building a core of committed clients. Engage them with consistent social media and opportunities for individual interaction.
If the primary characteristic of your company is long-term reliability and consistent quality, reach out to your satisfied customers—woo them with a sense of nostalgia and appeal to their loyalty with opportunities for rewards and first-to-market sampling.
Whether you strive to build one group or another—or both—the study encourages a strong commitment to ongoing, consistent quality of your deliverables.
Combine creativity and data analysis to take marketing to the next level.
In the marketing world, the creative minds and the analytical ones often find themselves at odds. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Loren McDonald, a marketing evangelist at IBM, recommends teams turn to something she calls ‘center-brain marketing.’
Center-brain marketing combines the strengths of right-brained individuals who can help connect brands with consumers through emotions and targeted customization with the strengths of left-brained data experts who have a handle on SEO, conversion optimization and technologies such as artificial intelligence.
To make center-brain marketing work for your team, McDonald recommends implementing the following:
Strategy—Take charge of the data and insights produced by technology and build a business strategy around them.
Technology—Take stock of the technology that best fits your organization’s needs and can produce or refine the data that helps you gain and keep customers.
People—Encourage collaboration between creative and analytical teams so that the right-brained employees let the data drive creative direction, and the left-brained employees can understand how emotion influences the creative process—and the buyer.
Process—Working together doesn’t begin and end with a mission statement. Teams must work together when moving from calendar or campaign-based marketing to an automated marketing approach.