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Fire Up the Grill!
Ah, summertime – and food. Is there any more perfect combination? 5/31/2018 | PromoJournal Staff, Product Feature
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Ah, summertime – and food. Is there any more perfect combination? Whether it’s the grill, the barbeque/pit, or a picnic spread, outdoors and eating freshly made food with cold beverages is a celebration in and of itself.

“A barbecue or a picnic can be a simple family event, all the way to large corporate or community event and everything in between,” observes Gwen Brey of Beacon Promotions.

There are many different aspects to a successful barbecue or picnic – and many can be sold as packages to your clients. For picnics or barbecues, Brey points out, there are numerous promotional items that range from inexpensive to thoughtful corporate gifts; such as utensils, a grill, or food and beverage holders. If there is a registration table, utilize a full color table cover (#TFLFC3-8).

Bernie DiMeo of Sports Grills Promo asserts that the top five items for picnics, barbecues, and tailgating are grills, meat, beer/soda, coolers, and furniture. “Tailgating has become so popular that as many as 25% of people stay in the parking lot to tailgate during the game and watch it on TV. Some groups of friends split the tickets and take turns going into the game and staying in the parking lot. More than 50 million people tailgate each year in the US – it’s a $35 billion industry.”

Naomi Berkowitz, business development at Picnic Plus by Spectrum says that when distributors call to brainstorm about the best products to promote a great company picnic, they discuss food, barbeque tools, and entertaining elements. Picnic Plus, she comments, specializes in “Perfect Picnic Portability” with items such as a portable insulated food carrier (see case study), to its Ember BBQ Tool (#PSM-210) set, a folding stainless steel three-piece that opens like a Swiss army knife; its patented height-adjustable Picnic Plus Scrimmage Table (#PSM-104), available in seven colors and keeps everything off the ground; Tub Cooler (#PSG-221) and Bluetooth® Cooler (#PSR-325) both which hold up to 73 cans plus ice, have leak-proof lining, and a drain plug with the latter featuring speakers to sync up for music.

But don’t forget that “barbecues and picnics are designed to be fun, and of course, they can be messy!” points out Kippie Helzel of Keystone Line. “Sturdy plates, good napkins (and wipes), durable drink cups are all critical parts of the planning,” she suggests.

Paul Hanney, sales manager for Garyline, suggests the dual-functioning FLY9 nine-inch flyer, which is safe for food and can be used both as a plate and as a toy afterwards. “This will definitely be a memorable picnic or barbecue when used this way,” he says, adding that the flyer is made in the US and is offered in numerous colors. In addition, he says, “when it comes to food, our Silicone Basting Brush (#KSIL8B) is perfect for grilled/barbecued chicken or ribs.”

The most important thing to remember for a memorable barbecue or picnic, says Carrie Lewis, trade marketing communications specialist of BIC Graphic, “is these gatherings are inherently fun! Cooking over an open flame, eating without utensils, and spending time with friends and family is an enjoyable way to spend your time. Promotional items that add to the fun, are easily portable and are functional are good bets to enhance these gatherings.”

She suggests roll up blankets or camp chairs (#15567) for seating, BBQ sets (#61938) and aprons (#45887) for the grill master, multi-function tools (#26075) for preparing food outside, and a KOOZIE® kooler (#15658) with room for many types of snacks and beverages. “These are essential for any picnic or barbecue. Keeping food and drinks chilled longer is an easy way to extend a fun event!”

Sales Ideas

Keystone Line, says Helzel, sells a lot of different items targeted for use in picnics and barbecues. For example, if it’s a cookout at an outdoor event like a fair, the company sells more stadium cups; if it’s a corporate picnic, its Glacier Cooler Jug is popular as it has a high perceived value but is much less expensive than branded cooler jugs. “Our basting brush has been a great seller for us, and customers buying that item have ranged more from real estate agents to banks and home improvement businesses — they know their customers will use a silicone basting brush, and priced at right around $1.00, it is a low cost/high interest promo item,” she describes. Other items distributors have used for outdoor events and picnics are Keystone Line’s Surf n’ Sun Sport Set (water bottle with sunglasses inside), and its Party Pack (Fiesta Cup with sunglasses inside).

Garyline, says Hanney, has fulfilled requests from distributors whose clients wanted cutting boards for their next corporate picnic or family day as a handout. Garyline offers the Petit Cutting Board and Grande Cutting Board. Both can be used as place settings or serving trays. In addition, “we’ve also had a lot of picnic blanket requests lately. Our roll-up Picnic Blanket (#SB47P) is available in three patterns and can be kept in the car for a spontaneous picnic or to keep warm in the car on a cold-weather road trip.”

Brey relates that she is seeing many different markets order barbeque and picnic items. Nearly 80 million Americans grilled in 2017 with 83% of consumers using/owning three or more grilling accessories, she points out. “Many of these accessories are the types of products we are seeing in marketing campaigns in such wide-ranging industries/businesses as agriculture/farms, casinos, financial, fitness, healthcare, insurance, and real estate companies. The small, inexpensive items are used as home/health fair or community event handouts. Others are being used as meeting attendee giveaways or a thank you for buying a house/insurance with them.  And still others are employee anniversary gifts.”

According to Lewis, natural businesses that can use these items for promotions include outdoor recreation stores, campgrounds, travel and tourism boards, and rec centers. As these businesses begin the planning stages of hosting summer events they will be looking for giveaways and branded items to sell. “The education and collegiate vertical market will also be interested in barbeque and picnic items as tailgating season is only a few short months away,” she asserts.

What’s Trending

One of the growing trends in barbeque is people grilling all year round, observes Kevin Andrews of PolyConcept North America (PCNA). “Many people are fighting the weather and grilling outside of the traditional season of spring and summer,” he says. “Many are now grilling all year long, which is another reason why BBQ items make great giveaways or employee gifts.” Further, more than 75% of American households have a grill or smoker, Lewis notes.

She points out that in barbeque, a growing “feel good trend is food philanthropy. BBQ events as fundraisers or to provide hot meals to people impacted by natural disasters have been popular in recent years. Non-profit organizations hosting these types of events may be another potential market for promo barbeque/picnic items.”

Brey believes that with the growing number of people getting into grilling and entertaining, we will see more “great gadgets, spices, smokers, and innovative veggie dishes (think cauliflower steaks). You will probably see more competition barbecuing events too.”

Typically at barbeques and grill events, meat is the main menu item, so when it comes to serving any type of meat, you need to be sure it is safe to eat, Andrews advises. He recommends Leed’s Digital Instant Read Thermometer (#1031-60). The end-user also needs the accessories for cooking; try Leed’s Grill Master BBQ Spatula (#1070-72), featuring a serrated edge for slicing and a bottle opener; Bullet’s 10 Piece BBQ Set (#SM-7711) includes a spatula, fork, tongs, two skewers, a basting brush, four corn cob holders, and comes with a zippered carrying case.

Sports Grills Promo, says DiMeo, is now offering a 52" tall bottle shaped charcoal grill. It is on wheels and opens into two pieces, a cooler and a grill. It's ideal for companies that want to do sampling at events. Distributors who represent beer, liquor, soda, snack, and meat companies.

A grill needs propane and the tanks can sometimes be cumbersome to work with, says Josette Bosse, program manager of Bay State Specialty Company; she points to the solution, the Propane Tank Jar Opener (J147) which allows for large imprints for the client. “Similarly, when working with a hot grill or barbeque, our Therma-Grip Pocket Oven Mitt (K217) is fire-resistant and comfortable with an all-cotton interior.”

Corn on the cob is also a summertime outdoor event staple, and Bay State’s Champion Corn Butterer (#K53) is fun to use, says Bosse; just load a pat of soft butter into the top and slide it along the corn.

“If you are in the market for a more general picnic items, we suggest our Oversized Lightweight Picnic Blanket with Stakes (#1080-44). It can be used on grass or sand and includes a stake system,” Andrews adds. BIC Graphic’s Shoulder Belt Picnic Basket (#26082) is an “attractive fleece striped blanket that conveniently rolls up with a hook and loop closure, and has adjustable shoulder strip and carry handle. The lightweight style makes this a perfect picnic or tailgating blanket,” Lewis describes.

A new idea that Hanney asserted “is great for a picnic and barbeque” is Garyline’s digitally printed can holder/cooler. The Home Brew USA Pocket Can Holder DP (DPPCHUSA) will keep the end user’s drink cold and folds flat to fit in his/her pocket to take home. “Another best seller, lately, is our new The Natural 8 oz. Canvas Tote (#B812CT) which suits perfectly as a giveaway at an outdoor event.”

Keystone Line, notes Helzel, created some new bundled sets to ensure distributors can offer a variety of price points as they become more inundated with outdoor event fulfillment requests. These include the Outdoor Fun Bundle (#BP 104) for all ages and for family fun and company picnics, a new kit (#BP109) that features Keystone’s Party Pack and Bottle Cooler inserted in its Glacier Cooler Jug.

And, don’t forget wearables – T-shirts, tanks, visors, and caps! These are a great way to commemorate a summertime event. Remember that barbecues and picnics are events that are planned for autumn as well, so the “grilling season” is not just for summer.

CASE STUDIES

Kippie Helzel of Keystone Line: “We created a custom bundle set last summer for a corporate picnic. The distributor wanted to hit a $10.00 sell price, and we were able to include six items inside the Glacier Cooler Jug -- Fiesta Double Walled Cup with CPS Shades, foam can cooler, 4” mini flyer, rally towel and a key tag. It was a great order, 1,000 pieces, and the distributor said his client was thrilled with the gift -- a lot of punch and high perceived value for a reasonable price!”

Paul Hanney, sales manager for Garyline: “We recently had the opportunity to help a distributor with the idea for a large family reunion. We came up with a kit that featured our Tritan Bottle Kit (#TRB3K) along with two wet wipes, a bug repellent, two sunscreen packets, a Blistex® packet, Purell® hand sanitizer, and Advil® all packed inside. It was a big hit at the event, which took place in a park.”

Gwen Brey of Beacon Promotions: “A local family farm raises premium pork. Because of the demand for their premium product, they developed their own store of pork products and now have an online store. As a thank you to brand new customers, they sent out the Branson BBQ Tool Set (#T590B), with a hand-written thank-you card that accompanied the customers’ first orders. The BBQ set consists of heavy-duty stainless-steel grilling utensils and an oven mitt. These are the perfect items to grill up an awesome pork dinner. And the subtle domed medallion imprint reminds them where to go when they need more pork!”

Naomi Berkowitz of Picnic Plus by Spectrum: “An insulated food carrier is a great way to carry a special dish to an event. Our Picnic Plus Entertainer (#PSM-721) expandable hot and cold casserole/food carrier features a huge imprint area. A distributor had a client that needed an unusual gift for a large family reunion. Since our Picnic Plus Entertainer is available in 24 different patterns, it was the perfect answer to a gift at the end of the reunion…as each family stands out from another, using the same product.”
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