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Promotional USB Stick Market – Trends of 2014

Posted by USB2U on 30th December 2014 | Permalink

As 2014 draws to a close it’s a good time to look back and review how the market for promotional USB sticks played out over the course of the year. The most fundamental observation anyone looking at the market during the last year is that little has changed.

Promotional USB memory sticks are just as popular now as they were at the end of 2013. If anything their popularity has continued to grow over the last 12 months with increased sales fuelled by falling prices and the ready availability of USB sticks with higher levels of storage – typical promotional USB sticks now have a storage capacity of 4GB and upwards but 12 months ago this would have been 1GB to 2GB.

The falling price has arguably helped drive the USB sticks into new markets. Smaller memory capacity versions (think 128MB) can today be purchased for around £1.50 each. This is the price for a fully branded and data-loaded stick (subject to volume) and it really does put them into a price bracket where hundreds can be bought and just handed out as a speculative promotional tool. Whilst 128MB might sound a small amount of storage it was only a couple of years ago when it was the de facto storage offering!

Engraved Twister USB Sticks

Engraved Twister USB Sticks

So, in the corporate market there are now two distinct markets developing: i) companies who want to use USB sticks as a “cheap and cheerful” giveaways (often still packed with lots of pre-loaded data files and ii) companies that want to use USB flash drives with a larger memory as part of a more sophisticated sales and marketing campaign.

In parallel with the development of these two distinct market sectors a third market has blossomed over the last year and that’s the market for top quality USB sticks and gift boxes for professional photographers.

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Wooden USB Sticks for Professional Photographers

Today no self-respecting wedding or professional photographer would still use CD’s or DVD’s to hand out their client portfolios out on! The range of high quality flash drive packages aimed specifically at the professional photographer (which include some stunning gift boxes) has increased dramatically over the last year. This coupled with a fall in the popularity use of CD’s and DVD’s has seen a surge in sales to photographers.

In response USB sticks suppliers have had to up their game with some now investing heavily in the sector, hiring dedicated accounts managers that understand the photography market an launching bundles and packages aimed specifically at the unique needs of the professional photographer. USB2U is one such supplier – see them again at the 2015 Professional Photography Show at the Birmingham NEC.


If you’ve Still Got Budget to Spend in 2014 – We Can Help

Posted by USB2U on 19th December 2014 | Permalink

Time is ticking and if you work for a company, university or local authority and you’ve got money left in your budget to spend this calendar year then you’re going to have to get a move on and use it. It’s not unusual for budgets to be allocated on a yearly basis (on a calendar year) and typically such budgets are granted on a “use it or lose it” basis.

If this sounds like you then we’d love to help you spend your money. Our core products (Promotional USB Memory Sticks and Promotional Power Banks) are incredibly popular and can be used to support all manner of sales, marketing and educational activities. So, if you have cash left to spend then investing it now in our products rather than losing it would be a sensible decision.

We can work with you in one of two ways:

  1. We can take your order and invoice you before the end of 2014 and then deliver your USB sticks and/or Power Banks as and when you need them. We can even send them out to you in batches with different branding on each batch to reflect different activities you might want to use them for in 2015. Whether you pay for them in 2014 or on 30-day terms (meaning you’ll pay in 2015 but from your 2014 budget) is entirely up to you.
  2. We can take an order from you now and we can print, deliver and invoice your order before then end of this calendar year. We know for some companies it’s critical that goods are actually received within the budget period to allow the budget to be used. Not a problem. Even at this late stage (19th December) we can still print and deliver a wide range of promotional products before the end of the year.
USB Rush Order for 2014 Budgets

USB Rush Order for 2014 Budgets

If this is something you want to do them given the date it’s critical that you get in touch with us as quickly as possible. We are open all through the holidays (with the exception of 24th and 25th December) and we’ll still be offering our “next day” Rush Service throughout.

Don’t worry if your haven’t got all of your artwork and data files ready (assuming you need your USB sticks data-loaded) because our in-house design team can sort all of your artwork out for you and we can data-load right at the last minute (just before we ship your order).

USB2U – we do last minute .com


Best Time to Buy Your Promotional USB Flash Drives is NOW

Posted by USB2U on 9th December 2014 | Permalink

As Christmas approaches you’re no doubt thinking about your own shopping and what presents to buy for friends and family. In the run up to Christmas personal shopping tends to take centre stage. Even if your job is to source promotional products for your company for 2015 it can be difficult to focus on work acquisitions when the pressure to make sure you get “just the right” gift for you loved ones looms large.

However to ignore the buying opportunity in the market now for items like printed USB memory sticks (printed with your company logo on) is likely to be expensive. Maybe not expensive for you personally but expensive for your company who will pay more for any USB sticks purchased in January rather than December.

The smart, savvy buyer will know that the pricing of USB Memory Sticks follows broadly the same trend every year and they will pick their moment to get the maximum return for their spend. There are two “windows” every year when pricing is low and that is now (in the run up to Christmas and the end of January) and in the summer.

USB Flash Drives

Promotional USB Flash Drives

Pricing is historically low now because there is less demand (the Christmas effect). The factories in China that manufacture flash memory have already sold and shipped their Christmas stock and as a consequence there is an over capacity of production capability and stock. But, leave it too late and things take a dramatic turn and the reason is Chinese New Year.

In 2015 most USB flash memory stick factories will stop taking orders in mid to late January in preparation for their annual two week closure to celebrate the New Year. So, there is a buyers “sweet spot” from now until mid-January. As you might expect the laws of supply and demand are driving this and as we get closer to the factory closures the prices and panic levels rise!

Our advice, and we say this every year, is to buy now. We understand that not everyone has budgets released until the New Year but we can work with you on that. We’re happy to take orders now and lock in your price at today’s rate and only invoice you next year when your budget is available. If you’re good for terms (and we offer terms to the majority of our customers) then you won’t even have to pay for them until February 2015!

Go on – get ahead of the pack and bag yourself a bargain and reduce your stress levels at the same time. Trust us – buying promotional USB flash drives at any point around Chinese New Year is not for the faint hearted.


Custom USB Memory Sticks – Don’t Compromise

Posted by USB2U on 11th November 2014 | Permalink

For the last 4 years we’ve been predicting the day when fully customised USB sticks would eclipse the sale of printed promotional USB sticks but we might have been too optimistic in our forecast.

Whilst there has been an increase in demand for custom models they are still a long way from knocking the standard versions off their pedestal. It’s a surprise to us not least because the market in the USA has seen a significant growth in the sale of custom versions and we expected the UK and Europe to follow suit.

We’ve also seen unit prices tumble and historically high set up costs have been removed from all but the smallest orders (less than 100 pcs). Lead times have been cut to just a couple of weeks and the whole customer engagement process (the supply of CAD drawings, physical samples etc.) has been improved dramatically.

So why aren’t more customers buying or commissioning their “own design” USB sticks? We can only assume it’s because we’ve failed to get the message out about just how easy it is to and how competitively priced they are. In the UK we still tend associate “bespoke” and “custom” with expensive.

Equally there is a perception that anything “custom” made will have a long lead time and require lots of active involvement on the part of the customer to get it done – nothing could actually be further from the truth! At USB2U we take away all the pressure and stress. We design the USB sticks for you and we manage the whole production and delivery schedule for you. All you need to supply is the basic idea or concept (in as rough a format as you want).

Custom USB Memory Sticks

Custom USB Memory Sticks from USB2U

In our opinion you should definitely consider Custom USB Sticks for your next event or show. You’ll love them and you’re customer will appreciate the extra effort and thought you’ve put into them. Here’s a basic checklist to help you through what is a painless process anyway:

  1. Firstly be clear what a custom USB memory stick is. It is not a standard “factory owned” design that is printed with your brand or logo. A bespoke USB stick, just like a bespoke tailored suit, is manufactured specifically for you and you will “own” the finished design.
  2. Pretty much any 2-D or 3-D shape can be produced so don’t be afraid to ask for what might seem impossible.
  3. There are lots of different material and finishes to choose from with the most popular being plastic, PVC, ABS, Silicon, PET, rubber and wood. If you’re not sure what’s going to be best for you then leave it to us.
  4. Build in a week or two more for your order (that’s all) This will give us enough time to develop a few ideas for you, get your approval on the final design and then get your order sampled and manufactured.
  5. Choose a supplier that has experience of producing custom USB sticks and us ideally located in the same county as you!. There are plenty of companies around offering “standard printed sticks” but very few have any experience in bespoke flash drives and you will need a supplier that has in-house design support to help you develop the concepts you’re your flash drive and produce the 3-D drawing for the factory to work from.

At USB2U we LOVE working on custom USB projects so give us a call and chat through your ideas with us.

Custom USB Sticks - Sumo

Custom USB Sticks – Sumo


Custom USB Memory Sticks – Our Customers Love Them!

Posted by USB2U on 6th November 2014 | Permalink

Custom USB memory sticks are surging in popularity at the moment. There was a time when a printed USB stick was good enough but today custom (fully bespoke versions) are snapping at their heels in terms of popularity and numbers sold.

Every year tens of millions of promotional flash drives are given away by companies looking to promote their brand, to advertise their products or to disseminate large amounts information. With prices falling and memory capacities increasing the market shows no signs of slowing but there is a marked shift in buying patterns towards the fully customised models.

Of course when people talk about “custom USB memory sticks” they often mean standard “factory” designs that are printed, engraved or embossed but in our terminology a custom version is designed and manufactured to a customer’s specification. It’s a unique one-off product and the customer will own the finished design.



We typically make our custom sticks in a shape of a particular product or something that reflects the broad thrust of a client’s business. Products tend to be more popular which is why you’ll see lots of trucks, ships, tools and medical instruments! Anything is possible.

Custom USB flash drives can create a real buzz and generate lots of internet chatter and discussion on social networking sites so they are a great way get “viral” discussions going.

Don’t be put off by the costs! There is a real misconception that they are going to cost a fortune and there will be large upfront set-up fees and tooling costs. Relax – there aren’t. Providing you are ordering at least 100 pcs there should be no set-up or tooling cost and the unit cost for the custom sticks will only be marginally more than a stand (printed) stick!

Custom USB Memory Sticks - Shapes

Custom USB Memory Sticks – Shapes

The only downside is the lead-time which can be anything up to 6 weeks albeit 3-4 weeks is more typical. The lead time is longer simply to allow for the design and approval process so if you do want to use a custom USB stick then you need to plan ahead.

Don’t worry if you don’t have artwork or a specific design in mind. We have our own team of in-house designers who enjoy a challenge and they’ll happily work with you on developing ideas and concepts for you to consider. Hopefully the images shown here and on our Pinterest pages will help to inspire you.


Promotional USB Flash Drives – Do You Box

Posted by USB2U on 30th October 2014 | Permalink

Having been around for 10 years some people have already suggested that promotional USB flash drives are past their sell by date and the market is in decline. In reality nothing could be further from the truth. Continued falls in the price of flash drives coupled with high levels of competition in the market have actually driven sales up over the past few years and the appetite for promotional flash drives continues unabated.

Companies, schools and universities are increasingly finding novel ways to use their flash drives. The relatively cheap access to gigabytes of data storage is fuelling their creativity. If you’re given a promotional flash drive today then expect, in most cases, for it to be crammed full of media files, data files, product sheets, social media links and so on. If you’re the company buying promotional drives then you’re in for a pleasant surprise when you discover how much £2 – £3 per stick will buy you! (Certainly compared to just 2 -3 years ago)

With costs of the core product falling its perhaps no surprise that more and more people are spending an extra 20p – 40p to get a printed gift box to go with them. And don’t think for this trivial amount of money you’re going to get something tacky because you’re not – surprisingly this will buy you a plastic magnet box printed with your logo and supplied with a custom fit foam insert to fit snuggly around your drives!

If your USB flash drives are going into a media pack or just handed out at a trade show or sales event then a gift box might be overkill but if you’re handing them out as a “thank you”, perhaps to delegates or speakers at a conference then they are better given away in a gift box.

Bear in mind that the large, flat surface offered by the box gives you lots of scope to print larger and more complex images than you can typically print on the flash drive itself. So if you’re want to reinforce your marketing strap-line or perhaps print out your phone number and website then doing it on one side of the box is a great option.

If you are interested in getting some gift boxes for your branded USB flash drives its worth keeping an eye out for any special offers from USB drive suppliers. In a highly competitive market it’s common for suppliers to occasionally offer “free” printed gift boxes with orders of a certain quantity.

Promotional USB Flash Drive Gift Boxes

Promotional USB Flash Drive Gift Boxes


Flash, Bang Wallop what a USB Stick

Posted by USB2U on 29th October 2014 | Permalink

One of the great things about going to an organised party is the growth in the use of Photo booths. Whether it’s a wedding an office Christmas party, an “off-site” works bash/sales gathering or a children’s party then don’t be surprised to when you turn up to find a Photo Booth.

Originally these types of booths were confined to the dark corners of bus and railway stations. They were the sort of place you’d go to get a passport photo taken on the cheap and whilst you might mess around in them with your mates it was a stretch to ever see them being used the way they are today.

Don’t think drab grey box sitting in the corner of the room either. No, todays photo booths are big bold and bright and are often branded in the colours of the company hiring them (if it’s a corporate bash) – they’re there to inject some fun, some humour and levity into the proceedings and to encourage people to get together and “bond” in front of the camera – often helped on with ample supplies of dressing up props and drink!

The photographs produced by the booths might not win any awards in terms of composition, style and setting but what they will do is supply photos that will give everyone a bit of a laugh and something to talk about around the table. They’re great fun and with prices to hire them starting at only a few hundred pounds they’re definitely worth looking at if you’ve got an event coming up in the near future.

If you want a Photo Booth but don’t want the hassle or worry of organising it then there are lots of companies that will take care of everything for you including encouraging participation and usage of the booth on the day. A good place to start is

The photos from your “shoot” will typically be delivered on a classic print strip or 8” x 6” photo but increasingly Photo Booth companies are now offering digital copies of the photos on branded or custom USB memory sticks. These are not only great mementos but they make uploading the images onto your Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest pages really easy!

If you’re a Photo Booth operator and you’re looking to offer your clients a branded USB memory stick option then please give us a call. We’d love to work with you.

USB Sticks for Photo Booths

USB Sticks for Photo Booths


Promotional USB Memory Stick Price Volatility

Posted by USB2U on 8th September 2014 | Permalink

It’s particularly difficult time to be buying promotional USB memory sticks at the moment. It’s not that there are any fundamental issues with supply it’s just that the pricing is all over the place.

The biggest problem is the weakness of the pound (£) against the dollar ($).

Pretty much every USB stick in the world is manufactured in China and USB memory sticks are traded in dollars. So if you’re a UK company (as we are) and you’re looking to import stocks from China then the exchange rate is critical in terms of setting price and margin. Ideally you also want reasonable levels of stability so that the prices you quote can be supported for more than a day or two. At this moment the pound is in “freefall” against the dollar so it’s a brave supplier that will hold their prices for any more than a day or two!! Not ideal for all parties.

The problem, no surprise, is the forthcoming Scottish Election on independence. With the polls now suggesting things are going to be very very close the uncertainty over the future of the UK has cast a long shadow over the currency markets. In the past few weeks the falling pound has resulted in a 6%+ increase in the price of imported USB memory sticks.

USB Memory Stick Prices Rise on Back of Scottish Election Worries

USB Memory Stick Prices Rise on Back of Scottish Election Worries

Unfortunately the next few weeks are likely to see the pound come under further pressure so price volatility is going to be with us for the foreseeable future.

Whilst all of this is going on the seasonal changes the usually impact the promotional USB market are also happening. It’s around now, as buying chase their Christmas stock that prices start to rise. So we’re about to see a “double whammy” of currency instability coupled with annual price rises. The combined effect could lead to prices increasing by around 20%.

Our advice is to buy now. Talk to your supplier, negotiate the best price you can get but don’t hang-around whilst you’re doing it. When you have a price you’re happy with then get your order confirmed and lock in the price. The exposure on the price/currency volatility is then your suppliers responsibility and at the moment they’re going to be in a very uncomfortable place.

Hopefully after the election things will settle down but at the moment there is just so much doubt and uncertainty about that it would be a brave man that would bet on it.


USB Lanyards & USB Name Badges – Ideal for Conferences & Seminars

Posted by USB2U on 14th August 2014 | Permalink

If you’ve got a conference, seminar, press event or show coming up any time soon then one of the many challenges you’ll have to wrestle with is how you make sure that the attendees can be identified easily. Of course you’ll also be expected to supply them with copies of the speakers’ slides and notes together with any associated Press Releases and marketing material.

In today’s security conscious world the identification of people attending an event is of paramount importance. You need to know that the people attending have actually been invited, they are who they say they are and once identified to you as the organiser that other attendees can easily identify who they are, who they work for and ideally what position they hold. The obvious way of doing this is to go through a sign-in process and the attendees with a name badge – a version they either pin to themselves of a version they attach to a lanyard.

At larger events a common technique is to add a Barcode to the name badge so the badge holder can be “scanned” and identified at various points around the event (handy for controlling access to VIP areas or just for tracking who went where).

If you use a USB Name Badge or USB lanyard you can get all the benefits of a standard badge and lanyard but with the added benefit of supplier the badge holder with a digital copy of the speakers notes, slides etc.

USB Lanyards and USB Name Badges

USB Lanyards and USB Name Badges

A USB name badge can be pre-printed with the attendees’ details and can include a bar code or QR code. Or, to keep it simple you could continue to use the current style/type of name badges you use today but substitute the usual lanyard with a USB lanyard – these can be printed or embroidered with you logo and marketing message as usual.

Either way you get a brilliant way of distributing all of your marketing material to every attendee. No more printing of speakers’ notes and slides, no more building a secure website login to allow attendees to login and download them – just load them up onto the USB lanyard or USB name badge and you’re done. The “uploading” of the data can usually be done for you free of charge by the USB suppliers you just need to have your data ready before they are ready to deliver them to you.

An added benefit of using a USB flash drive solution is that they tend to be retained by the recipient so you get much more continued brand exposure than you ever would with a regular name badge or lanyard.


USB Wedding Favours – Recent price drops make them an attractive idea

Posted by USB2U on 13th August 2014 | Permalink

If you’re one of the thousands of happy couples that are going to tie the knot this year then amid all of the euphoria, stress and excitement that you’ll be going through there will no doubt be a million and one things for you to organise to make sure your happy day goes to plan.

The big things tend to be easy to remember (the church, the registry office, the rings, the dress, the venue and the flowers etc.) but it’s the little things that can get overlooked or they can just burn hours and hours trying to get them just right. Of course finding the suppliers for everything on your wish list is never easy!

If you’ve decided there’s enough budget left to provide Wedding Favours to your guests then there are literally hundreds and hundreds of ideas you could consider including the old favourites of chocolates, sweets , cup cakes and keyrings – most of these, if you include a nice little box to put them in are going to cost around £5 each. If you want them personalised then typically you’ll also need to add the cost of the artwork set-up and print costs which can add another £20 – £30.

Another option, and one that is gradually gaining in popularity, is a USB Flash Drive Wedding Favour.

USB Wedding Favours

USB Wedding Favours from USB2U

USB flash drives, and in particular engraved wooded USB flash drives have become really popular with professional wedding photographers who are now using them instead of DVD’s – the tend to buy them in “bundle” that include a printed or engraved box and the end results look stunning.

Having seen them some couples are now looking at buying these Flash Drive and Box bundles and using them as wedding favours. The boxes and sticks can be fully personalised and of course the one thing you can do with a memory stick favour that you can’t do with any other type of favour is to pre-load them with tons of digital files – so for example you could pre-load a little movie saying “thanks” to all your guests and load that on the flash drive. Or, you could put together a collection a montage of photos, music and videos that tell the story of who you are, how you met, how the relationship blossomed and finally images from the Hen and Stag do (if you dare!)

All of these files can be copied onto each USB drive by your supplier – typically at no extra costs.

Custom USB sticks for Wedding Photographers

Custom USB sticks for Wedding Photographers

With prices for USB flash drives falling you can expect to pick up a really nice engraved wooden USB memory stick for £3-£4. USB2U have some lovely packages on their photography site which are well worth a look at.