China might be about to enter the year of the Sheep but the USB memory stick market is, we believe, about to enter the year of the Custom model. We’ve seen a few false dawns over the last couple of years but finally this year all of the stars seem to be in alignment and it finally looks as though the year of the Custom USB has come.
If anything the UK is playing catch up with the rest of the world because in some markets fully customised models make up nearly 50% of the promotional market. In the UK, we’re significantly behind this at around 5% – 10%.
Why the difference? Well, first of all we need to be clear that when we say “custom” that we mean a fully bespoke 2-D or 3-D versions that are designed and manufactured to a customer’s specification. They are not standard models that are customised with a logo or design. An example would be a flash drive in the shape of a truck or a power drill or a word. They are “one-offs” and the customer who has commissioned them will not only take delivery of the finished product but they’ll own the rights to the design – no one else will have a USB stick the same as theirs, it will be unique and it will be in a shape/design then have actively been involved in the development of.
We think the UK is lagging behind other developed markets in this sector is because of ignorance, high perceived costs and an expectation that leads times are going to be horrendous. Clearly the task of “educating” the market about the availability and benefits of ordering fully customised USB flash drives falls to suppliers like us and we’re ready to take on this challenge.
The benefits are well proven – they generate more buzz, they get people talking about the brand/product that they’re representing, they are more likely to be kept and used (over and over again) and photographs of them are far more likely to find their way onto Social Media sites which in turn will drive “chatter” about the brand/product. They are a great promotional product.
What does surprise most customers that ask about them is just how inexpensive they are and how quickly they can be designed, manufactured and delivered. Yes, you will pay more for them but typically its only about 10% – 20% more than a simple printed stick and the lead times at around 3-4 weeks are not unreasonable. You just need to think a little bit further ahead and plan (perhaps that’s our collective problem!).
To be clear there are no tooling and set-up costs, there are no artwork and design fees and you will “own” the rights to the finished product and you’ll get all of this (and the marketing benefits) for a small premium on the unit price. 2015 will be the year of the Custom USB memory stick.