A Perfect Package

As gift-giving season is on the horizon, plan for packaging. With a unique twist or two, gift wrap will win over customers and boost results.

When it comes to promotional gift giving, the packaging matters as much as the content. Just as a salesperson has only seven seconds to make that first impression, so it goes with a corporate gift. You want an immediate wow factor.

“Packaging is much more important than people may realize,” says Bruce Korn, president of Zakback Inc. “Presentation can make or break how someone feels about what they get. For example, if you give someone a mug with a logo on it, the response may be, ‘gee thanks, another mug.’ But that same mug filled with some candy, wrapped in some colored cellophane and topped with a bow is likely to get an, ‘Oh wow, this is nice. Thanks very much!’ Even something as small as an eyeglass cleaner in a pouch has a greater impact than the cleaner by itself.”

It also buys longer exposure to a logo or message. The time a recipient spends admiring the packaging and then opening it increases the impact the gift has. Something as simple (and low-cost) as an imprinted gift bag with colorful tissue adds an interactive element to the gift experience. The client gets a few extra minutes worth of “bang for the buck.”

Transform Basic Packaging

Any packaging can be made special with creative thinking. It can also be useful, protecting the contents inside. Make it clever with the right copy and artwork to pull the concept altogether.

Korn recalls one case history that incorporated all of those factors: “A local bank wanted to do a promotion to be given to local accounting firms just after tax season,” he says. “With our help, we chose a few items such as a calculator, stress reliever, chocolate, etc. We created foam cutouts for each item, placed each item in the foam and a printed box from The Chest.”

The packaging was simply a white, mailable cardboard box. Pretty basic. Yet the box grabbed attention with the imprint of a tax form and the message: “A non-taxing Stress Relief Kit prepared by Downingtown National Bank.” Korn says. The bank also included collateral materials in the box, resulting in multiple referrals and new accounts.

Fulfill A Theme

The Chest (asi/44830), which is the supplier Korn turned to for the bank gift, offers stock graphics for a variety of box sizes and shapes. Tool boxes, doctor’s bags, boom boxes, lunch boxes and briefcases are a few of the many options.

When Delta Airlines opened a new terminal in JFK airport, it publicized the grand opening via a pop-up shop in an historic NYC building. The client selected a suitcase box with handle to be printed with four-color process to showcase Delta colors and logo. These were filled with gourmet comfort food and delivered on a baggage claim simulator at the event.

Beyond boxes, something as simple as a clear mailing tube becomes a creative vehicle for invitations and new product announcements. The Chest highlights an event by the MWE Sushi Society, inviting high-level executives to an informational sushi event. The packaging had to stand out amid all the mail that gatekeepers wade through daily on behalf of their employers. MWE with the help of its distributor decided to present the invitees with personalized engraved chopsticks. These fit perfectly into the clear mailing tube with the invitation teasing, “Love Sushi?”

Apparently many did. The turnout for the event was significant, drawing previously hard-to-reach CFOs of private companies.

Make It Eco-Friendly

Remember to suggest packaging to your clients with company stores. Allison Harvey, e-commerce and licensing manager for (the online store for the American Heart Association), chose reusable packaging as gift wrap for the store’s Go Red products.

“We added the Go Red Reusable Gift Wrap to our store in February 2014,” she says. “February is our peak season for Go Red. Not only is it National Heart Month, but National Go Red For Women Day is the first Friday of every February. On this special day we ask people, communities and landmarks across America to Go Red to raise awareness of women’s number-one killer – heart disease.”

The idea of adding the wrap to the shop arose because many of its customers buy the Go Red For Women items as gifts for loved ones. “In particular, our jewelry items made great gifts to wear on Wear Red Day, for Valentine’s or Mother’s Day and ‘just because I care’ occasions,” Harvey says. “Staff members also often purchase Go Red gifts for our wonderful volunteers across the country as a token of our sincere appreciation. The custom wraps provide our customers and staff with an easy solution and put the finishing touch to their gifts while helping complete the brand experience. Plus, we love how eco-friendly it is.”

There’s no shortage of reusable packaging from industry suppliers. Debco (asi/48885) has a drawstring Holiday Gift Bag made of eco-friendly recycled nonwoven polypropylene in red with preprinted holly berries and a green double-ribbon drawstring (NW6730). Add a gift tag with a logo and good tidings for the holidays to simplify wrapping and to thank recipients for their business.

Vitronic Promotional Group (asi/93990) recently introduced a gift bag line designed to make kids roar with glee. Its Paws N Claws Gift Bag (A824) comes in a variety of creatures, complete with fun three-dimensional features such as floppy ears on a tiger or fins on a dolphin. The bag can be filled with treats to eat or fun tools to use such as crayons, a disposable camera or drawing pad and pencils. Along with the recipient, dozens of other people will see the gift-giver’s logo. Everyone will have fun “tracking” the promotional impact.

Go Graphic

Yet another unique packaging idea comes from Visstun (asi/93979). Known for its high-definition custom cups, the same printing technology is used for a line of FoldTop Gift Box Containers. “The biggest reason to get specialty packaging for your product is to wow the potential buyer and add appeal to the product,” says Maressa Christensen, marketing manager at Visstun. “So the first thing to look for in specialty packaging is the visual appeal.”

Looking at the types of material available is the next step. With the fold tops and gift box containers, you are able to print using high-definition color with full bleed. The containers are printed flat using offset lithography for larger quantities and using a digital process for smaller quantities.

One way to set your gift-giving proposal apart from other promotional salespeople is to propose packaging ideas along with the gifts you recommend. “The use of customized gift packaging is definitely on the rise,” Christensen says. “Competition for business has been steadily increasing and naturally those continuing to thrive are adding value for their customer in a variety of ways to stay relevant. One of the prime ways of doing so is by adding value to a gift by using distinct and beautiful packaging. Custom packaging for a gift always increases its value and makes it more special.”

The containers are available in a choice of materials (clear or white plastic and cold or hot paper). The plastic versions are reusable, which is an added perk to the gift itself. They’re dishwasher-safe and durable. Use them for welcome gifts at resorts and spas, filled with small items such as lotions, sunscreens and sunglasses. Think of them for gift kits for back-to-school necessities. And, of course, they’re perfect for candy or gourmet treats during the holidays.

Christensen urges salespeople to explain the value of packaging. “When you add beautiful packaging to your gift, people are impressed that you went the extra mile and are more likely to do business with you because you’ve gone above and beyond.” She recalls a successful gifting program that used a snack container filled with goodies to thank visitors coming to an opening for apartments. While the visitors viewed the premises, they could snack and learn more about the units. The container was printed on all four sides with specifications of various floor plans and notes on the many benefits that come with the rental.

Get Personal

Perhaps the most compelling packaging is personal. That’s the concept behind Personalized Gift Source (asi/50161). “Demand for personalized gift wrap has absolutely increased,” says Chris Jordan, account executive at the company. “Once distributors know that customized gift wrap is available at low minimums, they pass that information on to clients that are considering gifting campaigns. With more visibility comes more demand. We also see a lot of repeat distributors and clients.”

The trend he notes most from his distributors’ orders is simplified designs. “While we occasionally get intricate designs, it is more likely a request for a step-and-repeat logo pattern,” Jordan says. “Also, since we have low minimums and a very fast turnaround, we see a trend of small orders that repeat frequently. We act in place of a warehouse, with the added perk of being able to adjust a design quickly and efficiently.”

Another trend is that gifting is becoming more personalized and meaningful. “While it once may have been about having mass gifting campaigns that all receive the same product and the same packaging, that’s not so much the case,” he says. “There is a drive for a one-on-one relationship with the end recipient, so the gifts mirror that sentiment.”

Pay attention to quality and details. Be aware of the paper stock, which is going to determine the quality of the overall piece. “It determines whether you receive dollar-store paper thickness or something more substantial, and whether you will end up with unintentional tears and creases,” he says. Personalized Gift Source uses 60# gloss text paper, which holds up better than store-brand paper.

The bottom line: A good wrap will influence the recipient’s response, regardless of the gift enclosed. “Generally speaking, gifts that clients use aren’t branded with any company’s logo, so branded gift wrap is the perfect solution without overdoing it,” Jordan says. “Since we can also customize down to the individual recipient’s name, it adds a personalized touch that is well received. Customized gift wrap allows you to reinforce your branding and the goodwill associated with gift giving.”