What’s Trending in Promotional Merchandise Technology for 2019!

Following the annual Technology fairs in Hong Kong, we are ready to launch our latest range of Tech Lifestyle gadgets for 2019, but what’s trending?

The shows not surprisingly did not throw up any new concepts to take over from the current focus on items such as power banks and speakers but did highlight some very popular trends in technology for the promotional merchandise market.

Promotional TechProbably the single most popular technology concept is what has been christened ‘true wireless stereo or TWS‘ or more simply the ability to pair two Bluetooth audio devices to each other to create wireless stereo for listening to music. Most popular items at the show with this feature were for sure micro Bluetooth earbuds and of course small and not so small travel speakers. Such products simply turn on, one device takes the lead and pairs to the other and then your phone/tablet/laptop and you can enjoy great stereo sound.

Wireless charging continues to be current and one to watch for the future. However, quality, usability and safety are concerns at the low end, and consumer demand, compatibility and a slower than expected uptake is still a question. One to watch closely for 2019...

‘Smart’ home products and connected devices such as plugs, security locks, Wi-fi driven cameras at your front door and light bulbs continue to grow and will become part of our ‘home make up’ sooner than you think!

PowerbanksPower banks and charging cables still dominate the shows with a myriad of new styles, sizes and prices on display. The market does seem a little flooded in this area with some slowdown in interest, as often it’s been ‘done and seen before.’ However cool and unique models still have the power to wow! Excuse the pun...

USB CUSB C hubs and connectivity solutions were probably one of the surprise products areas, as hubs had slowed down in terms of interest a few years ago. However the rapid introduction now of USB type C connectivity into many new laptops is driving a new interest in good quality hubs that can be fed from a USB C port and then power/sync data with 3-4 older style USB A accessories (such as flash drives/mice etc) HDMI and or other ports built into a handy travel gadget often with a great branding area.

Fast charge PD adapters and in-car chargers will become a big part of our ‘re-charging’ world as we all strive to charge our phones quicker and more often. The Fast charge delivered by PD enabled devices will become popular in the car as they themselves will turn into ‘info/entertainment centres’ as driverless cars revolutionise our world in years to come. Alexa and smart Home entertainment systems are growing in popularity with Amazon selling the Alexa solution to many professional factories in China now. However, the fierce battle on hardware costs, and with Google, Apple, Microsoft and Amazon battling it out on the retail market this looks a tricky area for the promotion market.

Bluetooth 5 is now live and expanding rapidly into many new products and service areas/location services. This new standard is bringing far greater wireless transmission distances between gadget and host device. This coupled with the ability to pair up to 10 or more devices to one host device, opens the door to many new and improved speakers, trackers, heart rate monitors, headphones, earbuds and much more... Smart WatchFitness trackers, smart watches and colour display ‘activity bands’ are making a big come back! After a rapid rise to consumer focus and then slight slowdown over the last 12months, the tracker and Smartwatch are now very popular with most major consumer brands having them made for them. Many of these brands have added a colour screen bringing a new dimension to the product. Many factories are developing this style and with competitive prices, smart and colourful two-tone bands and professional APPS - software’s and even GPS bundled in this is an area to watch and stay close too.

So lots of cool Tech gadgets to stay focused on for 2019. This product area remains one of the fastest growing in promotional marketing, and increasingly one that needs close attention and advice from your expert promotional merchandise supplier.

For more information contact the GeigerBTC team, or to view our latest Winter Tech lifestyle brochure, click here

An Introduction to Wireless Charging and the QI Standard

Wireless Charging Header

WWireless Charging Electric Toothbrushireless Charging is an amazing phenomenon simply on the basis that the execution of this technology has been around for a while now in many of our houses; we just never questioned it before.  Electric toothbrushes have been using inductive charging for quite a long time, but because of low efficiency rates, it was limited to these bathroom appliances due to the fact that nobody really cared if it took an excessive amount of time to charge their electric toothbrush. Over the last decade or so the technology started gaining traction, more research was being done in this area and it was introduced in more and more devices. Exactly ten years ago the Wireless Power Consortium was established and they introduced the QI standard for wireless charging.

Wireless Charging PadThe introduction of a standard was a key boost the technology needed to start gaining mainstream traction, and we started seeing it appear in a variety of products on the consumer electronics market, especially in smartphones. Fast forward to 2017 and some of the largest smartphone manufacturers are already using QI standard wireless charging and have been for a couple of years, but the key shift to mainstream comes through the introduction of wireless charging in the Apple iPhone devices. You can think what you like about Apple, love them or not, they know mobile peripherals and since the inclusion of wireless charging on the iPhone we have seen this technology take off not only in the consumer market, but in the world of promotional products also.

inductive chargingBut what is Wireless Charging? To get a full idea we need to go all the way back to 1891 where Nikola Tesla demonstrated that he could power an electric lamp without wires. Modern wireless power utilises the same principles Tesla did all those years ago, through the use of electromagnetic induction. To simplify how wireless charging works all you really need to understand is there are two main devices involved in the process, a ‘transmitter’ (wireless charging pads), and a ‘receiver’ (smart device with wireless charging technology).  The ‘transmitter’ device is constantly outputting a harmless electromagnetic transmission (when switched on) searching for a ‘receiver’ device. When the ‘receiver’ device enters this field the devices interact with each other and a concentrated current is transmitted from ‘transmitter’ to ‘receiver’ and thus the charging process begins.

Beware of Fake Wireless ChargersWith great power, comes great responsibility and unfortunately since the growth of the wireless charger, this has also led to an increase in low quality, counterfeit wireless charging products which are irresponsibly cheap in price, but the actual cost could be much higher. In the last few years, attention has been drawn to cheap and low quality Powerbanks, where in several cases the device overheats, causes fires and in some cases has exploded, the same is the case with cheaply made wireless devices. The previously mentioned Wireless Power Consortium are combatting this with the rigorous tests that surround QI certification. The WPC tests specific properties through multiple procedures, receivers have 10 properties tested and transmitters have 17, these tests validate compatibility and safety.

Like I said earlier we are seeing an influx in the promotional products industry of requests for wireless charging devices, and why not, they are new, topical, make for a great gadget and they have a fantastic branding surface. Our warning to those who have been offered ‘affordable’ options please check with your supplier whether these products are QI certified. QI certification does slightly increase the price in a product, but at the end of the day that slight increase in cost, is much less that the price you will pay ultimately if a non-compliant device malfunctions.

Brighten up your rainy days with Promotional Umbrellas

Promotional Umbrellas

Promotional UmbrellasNot long now till April arrives and the April showers are upon us, but let’s face it we live in the UK, no matter what month or season it is, you can pretty much guarantee it will rain at some point. Which is why I was surprised when the statistics highlighted that the UK was actually below the world average on number of umbrellas owned per capita. I had almost expected in a country world renowned for its rain, that each person would be recorded owning in the region of 4-5 umbrellas!

Well we’re here to convince you that not only do you need an umbrella because on average 1,154mm of rain falls on the UK each year, but also because they provide a fantastic opportunity for advertising. In the last survey by the BPMA (British Promotional Merchandise Association) the most important quality a promotional gift must have is usefulness. It was very interesting to see that usefulness ranked above price, lead time, relevance, uniqueness etc.

All Over Print UmbrellaFrom a business point of view, there aren’t many promotional products out there with as much branding surface area as an umbrella. One great feature the umbrella has is it is not just the branding you can adjust to your specification, there are several features that you can have bespoke to your branding, giving your promotional product a more executive feel. You can adjust the grip, the pole, the contrast colour and even have fully dye sublimated panels for an all over brand.

When it comes to design of your umbrella, although it may seem like a great idea, a bright umbrella that stands out in the crowd may not be for everyone, for example executives in financial organisations may prefer something a tad more subtle. With this in mind the biggest advice we can give in this manner is know your audience, this is where trend research really comes in handy. If you know your target audience, you can research their likes and dislikes, and then adjust your design to these specifications.

What can Elon Musk’s ‘The Boring Company’ teach us about Marketing?

Elon Musk


Elon Musk is definitely a man who needs no introduction, engineer, inventor, magnate, billionaire, visionary… the list goes on! He is most recently renowned for being CEO of electric car company Tesla, and his aspirational aerospace program SpaceX which successfully launched the Falcon Heavy Rocket this week! Elon has stated that all his professional goals revolve around his want to revolutionise the world and humanity. His goals include reducing global warming, creating sustainable energy, reducing the risk of human extinction and taking life to the solar system through establishing a human colony on Mars. It is this amazing and eccentric desire that puts him in the forefront of the world’s influencers.

Back in 2016 Elon sent a tweet out to his 18 million followers that he was fed up of traffic as it was ‘driving him nuts.’ He followed this statement up with the fact that he was going to start a company to build a tunnel network under LA, and that he would name it ‘The Boring Company.’ Elon not one to hang around started digging a trench on his SpaceX premises in February 2017. The end game is to have a fully traffic alleviating network of low cost tunnels enabling rapid transport in areas such as LA, New York, Washington DC etc. But what does all this have to do about marketing?

For starters we shall begin with the name of the company, a name he attributes it's creation of, to his ex-wife British actress Talulah Riley, “The Boring Company.”  This is a name that not only explains what the company does, but also provides comic relief. The play on the word ‘boring’ is a fantastic example of great PR material, I have seen hundreds of news articles all using the word ‘boring’ in a different contexts, gaining exposure that he possibily would not have attained without the smart word play on the name.

The part that particular interests us here at BTC Group was his marketing ploy of using the sale of promotional branded ‘boring company’ hats to raise funds for his company. The hat is a simple black baseball cap embroidered with the company logo (a logo he attributes the creation of to director JJ Abrams!) Elon only advertised the sale of 'The Boring Company' hats on his through his twitter account, but again thanks to the PR power of ‘The Boring Company’ name, word soon spread, and it was featuring in articles across the world. According to Elon in his own words he was going to build that tunnel ‘one hat at a time.’ In just over a month the 50,000 baseball caps Elon had invested in sold out, raising approximately one million dollars through sales!

It is this combination of utilising his social media influence, the cleverness of the company name and promotional product marketing that makes this campaign the marketing masterclass it has become. Believe it or not he then moved on to fundraising through $600 flamethrowers, another complete success, although we're not too sure how well branded flamethrowers would go down in the UK promotional market!

An Introduction to Personalised Marketing and Promotional Products

Introduction to Personalised Marketing and Promotional Products


In last week’s 'thank you blog series', during the episode of thanking people for their business, I briefly mentioned the topic of giving the customer a personalised marketing experience. Personalised marketing can be summed up as when a company aims to deliver individualised marketing material to suit the specific customer’s needs and requirements. These needs and requirements can be based on website behaviour (e.g. which parts and/or products on the website a customer visits tracked by cookies), data profiling and personal influence.

Promotional MarketingAmongst those who know what personalised marketing is, there is a common misconception that personalised marketing only works in a business to consumer environment. This is totally incorrect as buyers in a business to business environment are people too and are influenced exactly in the same manner as consumer buyers do. Ultimately there is a decision maker in every B2C and B2B purchase, personalised marketing material just need to be adjusted to that decision maker. 

Before the Digital age, personalised marketing on a large scale was nigh on impossible, but now with the introduction of computers and the internet, everything is measurable. Through the data from customer buying habits and yearly spend combined with customer profiling, you can really narrow down what your customer is likely to buy and when they are going to buy it. For example you know that ‘

Customer X’ spends Y on buying items in Category Z during April every year. Using this information in February/March you can send an e-mail to Customer X, asking if they are due to place their order in April, as there have been some updates in Category Z which also work well with items in Categories A, B and C.

This communication not only encourages the customer to purchase from you by putting yourself in the forefront of their mind, but it also encourages them to spend more with your company by introducing them to product categories they may not have seen before. This example is just using three measurable factors, imagine how personalised you can make the buying experience with more identifiable information.

How does personalised marketing work with promotional products? This form of marketing is all about Personalised Calendarsproviding a customer experience that is unique to that person. As I mentioned in the thank you blog, we are seeing more and more of our manufacturing suppliers investing in machinery that can individually brand names. This trend is laregly down to people wanting to provide this personalised experience for the customer. The great thing a personalised product does is, it adds percieved value to the product. In the UK I specifically remember in my school years how cool it was to have stationary with your name on it, we don't lose this feeling years later, products just seem to hold, if not a higher monetary value, a higher sentimental value when they have your name on them. Here at BTC Group we obviously love branding, but we definitely love to see branding in unique ways, a fantastic example of this are these amazingly designed personalised calendars. Calendars are always useful, no matter who you are or what job role you are in, organisation is key! Each page has an different design incorporating your name in some way. 

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