Blog by: Lizabeth Rogers, Marketing & Tradeshow Manager, LaserGifts

We’ve all seen that one item that hits the retail market by storm. From “unheard of” to “must have” in moments –to live on only as an iconic lesson in marketing. (Pet Rock, anyone?) Fads and trends have a crucial part in every retail strategy – but just as a beverage business cannot live on Crystal Pepsi alone – it is important to have balance with the new and the reliable.

Although it has changed over the years, personalized souvenirs have stood the test of time! Although the exact date of the introduction isn’t known, it is estimated that name programs began in the souvenir industry in the 1950’s. Think that makes the concept out of date? Think again! Young and old alike flock to name racks to find the names that matter to them. Putting someone special’s name on a souvenir means it has more meaning, more value than anything else. The perceived value of a personalized item is greater than a non-name item and will bring another 30-40% at retail.

Need more proof of the power of names? Look to the “Share a Coke” campaign. United States Coca-Cola bottling put only the top 250 names on their signature products, for just a few months, and  saw a 2% increase in their sales, according to the Wall Street Journal.   For those whose names were not selected, they could (and did) purchase a personalized bottle for $5.00 per bottle.

If you’re thinking about placing a personalized program, ask yourself this question: Do you have a rotating customer base? If you’re seeing many unique visitors, name programs may be very successful for you. If you find that you have to change your stock frequently to keep your regulars interested – name programs might not be the best fit.  Additionally, consider these tips to make your program lucrative:

⇒ Partner with a company that will work with you to define the best program for your location – your customer demographics, target price point, and retail location are all key factors in choosing the right program.

⇒ Verify that the name list is right for the product. Before investing, ask your vendor how they determine the name list. Just like all other trends – names change. The names that belong on a gift for an adult may not be the same ones that belong on a toy or plush item.

⇒ Effective inventory management is a must! Work with your vendor to be sure that you are increasing the number of pieces in the top 30% of names. Make sure you are reordering frequently – empty pegs are lost opportunities for sales.

⇒ Personalized programs create multiple sales. Individual shoppers are more likely to purchase several of the same items to ensure that all of their loved ones receive this personalized gift.

⇒ Finally, when looking at the success of the program, be sure to analyze the program as a whole – not on the individual name sales. There will always be those names that are less popular, but are still critical components to the overall success of the program.

One final note on fads and trends – whether a product’s successful lifespan can be measured in decades or in weeks, have an exit strategy. Beware of a company that isn’t willing to work with you to make sure that every product taking up square footage on your sales floor is earning its place.

As my children and I walk through the souvenir stores, we look amongst the Big Mouth Billy Bass, the slap bracelets, and the other fads that have come and gone, and find our way to that classic magnet, key ring, pen or toy with our names on it. Now, in all honesty, my name has never appeared on a personalized program, however it doesn’t stop me from looking – every time. My disappointment proves the rule – name programs draw us in.

Trends may come and go, staples may stand the test of time, but the most recognized brands in the world are our own names.

About LaserGifts:
For 35 years, LaserGifts has been bringing the best selling souvenirs to retailers with on-time delivery, the best quality and price in the industry, and top shelf customer service.  We are still doing business with our very first personalized customer – testimony to LaserGifts products and service. LaserGifts’ product assortment has something to fit every retailer:  solar products that continue to function without a battery; Multi-Purpose Tools that your customer will use daily; and much more!  Make a call to LaserGifts at 888-674-6612.  We can help over the phone, send you free samples to review, or schedule one of our experienced representatives to see you.  See our complete line at  Let’s build your business together!

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