Branded products make your brand uniquely personable, but they’re a largely traditional industry.  In a world affected by COVID-19, that’s a huge opportunity.

With digital transformation, there comes a responsibility to stay personally connected to your customers. Branded products make your brand personable. They’re a unique opportunity to express to your clients and business partners that you care about them. A primary challenge of this industry is that it’s a largely traditional business sector that relies heavily on face-to-face meetings and relationships. As such it’s difficult to scale businesses in this space and once COVID 19 hit companies in Thailand (and everywhere else) were quite impacted insofar as their ability to conduct business was concerned. 

LRP Essentials (https://lrp.co.th) is a branded product platform built for LR Paris by Vimi.co, and designed to match the challenges of “the new normal” In this case study, we look at the ideation, creation and outcomes of this unique collaboration and digital transformation process.

The benefits of branded products

Before we dive into details it’s worth revisiting the primary benefits branded products deliver:

  • They spark joy – The immediate impact of giving and receiving gifts is surprise, pleasure, and gratitude. One doesn’t need to be a marketing expert in order to understand how evoking such powerful and positive emotional responses is a good idea for any business. 
  • They leave a long-lasting impression – When your team, partners, and clients use your company’s branded products they’re inevitably reinforcing their relationship to your brand. The stronger that relationship is, the likelier your company is to see it generating favorable outcomes. These could be anything from higher employee retention rates, to preferential treatment from suppliers, to better opportunities for repeat orders from customers, etc.   
  • They evangelize your company – Next time you’re in a public space look around you. Wherever you are you’re likely to see people using branded products:  bags, backpacks, pens, umbrellas, notebooks, mugs, etc. Each of these people is displaying a connection with the brands they care about.
  • They’re affordable street marketing – Branded items are a perpetual ad in the public space for the company that commissioned them. For as long as the products exist they continue to generate brand awareness and visibility. They’re comparable to billboards in that respect, but cost a fraction of the price and last much longer.
  • Branded products deliver a clear return on investment – Their impact is directly measurable.

Why do corporate gifts matter in Thailand NOW? 

It’s a tenet of the gift industry that the start of Q3 is the last opportunity companies have to order custom gifts for the holiday season. Companies that don’t make orders during August, at the latest, are likely to forgo any chance to deliver a custom holiday season gift.

  • No events – With trade shows and face-to-face events no longer possible companies have fewer opportunities for personable marketing. Branded products help fill that gap by providing an alternative method for relationship reinforcement.
  • Competition is fiercer – Companies need to invest more in customer retention and relationship building because competitors are hungrier than ever before…
  • People are desperate for good cheer – With 2020 being so harsh people are really looking forward to celebrating 2021 and gift-giving on that occasion is an especially powerful act.

Branded products and gifts – The challenge

With the basics of the branded product sector a little clearer let’s look at some challenges involved in selling them:

Buyers need guidance

Purchasing gifts is different from other purchases insofar as when we’re gift shopping we rarely have a clear vision for what we actually want to buy. Corporate gift purchasing isn’t very different and companies need to be assisted and guided in order to select a gift that will deliver them the best ROI on their gift investment. 

The two primary guiding principles for good corporate gifts are that they should be useful and reflect your brand.

They need to be useful 

While the thought of making an outrageous statement with novelty gift items may occasionally be tempting, the reality is that products like foam fingers and inflatable clappers have a very limited lifespan – Once the initial smile they evoke fades they quickly find their way to the dustbin.

A useful branded product, on the other hand, will enjoy a much longer lifespan, serve as a far more effective ambassador for your company, and as a result generate a much higher ROI. 

They need to reflect your brand 

While meeting expectations insofar as usefulness is concerned is crucial, this must not become an excuse for blandness. Nobody is impressed by a boring and unimaginative gift. The challenge is to successfully innovate within the context of an everyday useful item that reflects your company’s core values and sparks joy in the recipients.  

They take time

As with any project, delivering quality demands time for preparation and execution. In the branded products sector the typical lead time is about 4-6 months. Less than that simply isn’t sufficient to plan, design, prototype, QA and produce a custom collection. Obviously this poses a huge challenge for companies because often the need for gifts requires a shorter delivery timeline: Companies may want to deliver a gift in response to an unforeseen event, or simply failed to include their gift-giving into their yearly plan. Currently, the sector hasn’t really got an effective solution for this paradigm. 

Digital Transformation & Daily essentials 

LR Paris created LRP Essentials based on 61 years of experience in curating impactful marketing products, with the goal of resolving at least some of the challenges we just reviewed.

Less is more

The concept is to focus on a limited range of products in order to, on the one hand, allow for a great degree of care insofar as design, customization, and scalability are concerned, while on the other hand allow for reduced turnaround time for delivery. 

Curating winners 

One of the unique insights LR Paris has gained from its decades in the industry is that while there is an endless range of gift products on offer, the three most popular and impactful selections are bags, pens, and notebooks. These 3 types of items account for over 70% of the entire branded product market. Their popularity most likely stems from the fact that they’re practical useful items people need and use every day in their working environment. 

The development of LRP.co.th

The thought process during digital transformation that led to the development of the LRP.co.th website was to further capitalize on LR Paris’ turnkey product development, sourcing, and logistics capabilities, and capitalize on the learnings gained from the company’s unparalleled experience in the field.

Branching out from LRParis.com, LRP.co.th credibility is established through coherent aesthetics and adherence to brand guidelines. The website maintains the elegance and minimalism of the corporate website while adding its own utilitarian twist. Insofar as Digital Transformation is concerned, the project represents an entirely new understanding of the processes and customs that form the baseline for how the corporate gift and branded product industry operates. 

A better way to commission corporate gifts

For LRP Essentials’ digital transformation, the goal of the website is to solve the current challenges in the process of commissioning and ordering branded products and establish new benchmarks insofar as accessibility, speed, and convenience for purchasers and procurement officers are concerned.

A few concepts have guided us during the digital transformation and the design and development of the website: 

Leveraging scarcity to generate desire and motivation

LRP Essentials offers products in collections, with limited availability which helps establish LR Paris as concept generation specialists. Having a new collection each month showcases what design can do, and since the designers at LR Paris are highly skilled and experienced the standard is retained from one collection to the next.

Visitors to the website are presented with a countdown clock that indicates the amount of time remaining until the current collection expires and is replaced with a new one. 

This gambit, suggested by the behavioral design experts at Vimi, leverages Scarcity Biasing (our natural tendency to perceive items and resources that are scarce as having a higher intrinsic value) in order to establish a high benchmark for exclusivity and desirability. It also serves to drive visitors to act immediately lest they miss out. 

Simplifying access to price quotes

Branded products are a business investment, and as such are subject to the rigors of corporate purchasing. Purchasing departments normally aim to get proposals from a few vendors before making a selection with whom to work. The process is time-consuming for both purchasers and vendors and normally takes at least a week to complete. By offering a preset selection of customizable items and encouraging purchasers to request an online proposal the LRP.co.th website reduces this timeline to a matter of minutes.

Lessons learned 

The website was launched with a startup mentality – The design and development team worked to launch a functioning Minimal Viable Product (MVP) as rapidly as possible, and continues to tweak and improve the site based on customer feedback and lessons learned from its operation.

Luxury and MVP don’t mix

While the MVP approach is considered the best practice for a startup launch, the working teams at LR Paris and Vimi learned the hard way that the sometimes rough-around-the-edges results don’t match the expectations of a design focused company.

If you build it, they might not come

A further key realization has been that simply building the website doesn’t guarantee it gains traction – Driving traffic to the site is an entirely different effort. Far too many companies build a website but then fail to utilize it properly and just leave it there as a sunk cost. LRP.co.th in its digital transformation, wants to be more than that and so the working teams are currently working on scaling up the marketing for the site. This case study is part of that effort. 

Achievements

While the digital transformation and website is still a work in progress and marketing is very much nascent LRP.co.th has already accomplished the first important portions of its mission by fulfilling the promises of reducing project times and costs.

Faster quotes and delivery

As mentioned above LRP.co.th establishes a new benchmark for the timeline associated with generating quotations for custom branded products. Furthermore, it reduces the delivery time of products by 30%-50%. 

Better pricing

By allowing LR Paris to better consolidate orders and leverage supplier relationships and economies of scale as the site enables customers to enjoy prices that are as much as 30% lower than they would have to pay otherwise.

Looking to the Future

The teams at LR Paris and Vimi are obviously proud of LRP.co.th, and the digital transformation that has taken place. Both teams acknowledge that while it has indeed delivered on some promises, it will take more effort to deliver on others – Ultimately this is the norm for any business venture, and both teams are looking forward to seeing what LRP.co.th will become.