Cheap Printed Flash Drives – Fact or Fiction

Everyone loves a bargain but is there such a thing as a good quality cheap printed flash drive. Considering that any item that is printed with your company’s brand effectively becomes an ambassador for you company its important when sourcing branded products that you don’t compromise on the core quality of the product by buying cheap.

This is particularly true of memory sticks. Anyone given a printed memory stick is going to want to trust it to store and carry data on. They will expect any promotional memory stick carrying a corporate brand to perform equally as well as, if not better, than memory sticks from regular brands such as Kingston, Sony or Transcend. If you’re printed memory sticks underperforms or worse fails and the user loses their treasured or important data this negative memory will be associated with your brand.

Equally if you want to pre-load the memory sticks you are buying with data before your distribute them then you don’t want to discover when you come to load them that they are slow or worse fail. Today its common for memory sticks to be loaded with Sales Sheets, Product Sheets, Web Links, Audio and Movie Files and other sales collateral. Implicitly you need this data to be accessible and readable otherwise why go to the trouble of preparing it and loading it. Trusting it to a cheap, sub standard memory stick that might have been manufactured using Grade B (recycled) flash memory chip sets would be false economy.

Express Flash Drives

The core component of any memory stick is the flash memory module and the controller chip that goes with it. These have a price in the market just like any commodity and most factories that assemble memory sticks buy from the same small number of flash manufacturers at the prevailing rate. The price variance in the market of the finished memory stick (within a given memory size) is driven by the costs of the shell/case around this core component, the assembly costs, the manufacturers profit margin and the currency exchange rate to bring the memory sticks into the country. Given this the price for any printed flash drive should be broadly similar so if you are being offered prices below the general market price ask yourself why but more importantly ask your supplier why. Ensure you get some guarantees on the grade of chipset being used and check the credentials of the supplier.
In reality the only safe way to reduce the cost of branded memory sticks is to:

  1. Buy memory sticks with a smaller capacity, e.g. 128MB instead of 1GB. The smaller the memory capacity the cheaper the stick but don’t go too small or you will give the user little incentive to carry and use it.
  2. Plan ahead to ensure you allow sufficient time to get them printed at the point of manufacture e.g. in China. Last minute orders mean your supplier will have to print them locally and local printing is typically 3-4 times more expensive.
  3. Avoid times of high demand and limited supply when the prices are driven upwards. Typically this is during Chinese New Year and in the run up to Christmas.

As with everything in life you get what you pay for and printed memory sticks are no exception!

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