Promotional USB Flash Drives have been around for over 10 years now and the appetite for them shows no sign of abating. This year millions of them will be given-away in the UK alone prompting the obvious question of what are we doing with them all and isn’t the market saturated by now?
Their continued popularity seems to be fuelled by the fact that prices relative to the amount of memory inside the flash drive (and more memory equals greater usage options and increased desirability) have fallen dramatically and businesses are forever finding new and exciting uses for them.
Whilst lots are still just handed out at trade shows, conferences, seminars and press events today Professional Photographers have adopted them in preference to CD’s and DVD’s. Distributors are using them to send out large catalogues and price lists around Europe, 3D and 4D baby scan companies are increasing giving out (or selling scans) to parents on USB drives. House builders are handing them out in show homes pre-loaded with videos, price lists and interactive applications to help the buyer choose their new home – the ideas and opportunities for their use seem endless!
However, if you are about to start the process of sourcing promotional USB flash drives for your own project then be prepared to be slightly bamboozled by the amount of choice you’ll have and the sheer number of companies looking to sell you USB sticks. Your immediate challenge will be to try and get prices (very few companies quote them on their web sites because they prices are so fluid) and having got prices it’s then a question on trying to work out if you are comparing “apples to apples”.
Whilst USB flash drives can all look the same on the outside there can be huge differences on the inside and it’s what’s inside that to a large degree will determine the price, the quality and the performance of the USB stick (performance = read/write speeds, number of read write cycles the USB stick can perform). It’s also not uncommon for some unscrupulous suppliers to sell fakes – they’ll make a 128MB drive look like an 8GB drive and you’ll only find out when you try to load your files onto them and read the same files in another PC. In simple terms it’s a jungle out there so be careful!
One phrase you’ll see popping up all over the web sites of USB suppliers is “Grade A” – the inference being that they only supply the best quality product and that their product is somehow superior to others that don’t supply “Grade A” USB Flash drives. It’s a phrase and pseudo “standard” that was introduced a few years ago to try and help buyers differentiate the good from the bad BUT there is no regulation over its use, there is no independent authority that makes sure the “standard” actually means anything. Nothing is tested, no rigour is applied, anyone can and does use the phrase and it’s down to the buyer to challenge with the seller exactly what they mean by it and to understand how to check when they ultimately receive their USB sticks.
“Grade A” is now a largely hollow and vacuous marketing statement that means very little. It’s banded around by lots of companies and unfortunately clung onto buy buyers to reassure themselves that they are buying the best in the market. Sadly in many cases they are being duped – we know because we often end up picking up the pieces when things go wrong!
Our advice is to buy locally, buy from a supplier who has a hard fought for reputation in the market and who is not going to put it (and your relationship and brand) at risk by selling you rubbish. Check out 3rd party review sites to see what other customers are saying, do basic checks like using Google Maps to check out the suppliers address (you’ll be surprised how many companies that look great on their web site operate from a residential house) and if you can run and Experian, Credit Safe or Equifax check on the company to check their financial stability – if things do go wrong and you need to claim against the long warranties on offer then you need to have some confidence that they are going to be around to honour them!
At USB2U we use “Grade A” as a statement in our marketing because the market dictates that we do but in our case it’s true – we are careful not only to specify the standard and grade of flash memory used in the manufacture of our USB sticks but we also specify the controller chips and the capacitors – all 3 components are critical in terms of performance and reliability and if you skimp on these then you undermine any intent to supply top quality promotional USB flash drives.