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Choosing Drinkware_Blog

How to Shop: Drinkware

Tips, Tricks, and Ideas for Selecting the Perfect Sippable Gift

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We all have a favorite cup that rarely seems to make it back into the cupboard before we reach for it again on our way out the door.  It’s this practicality, personalization, and a wide array of features available on drinkware that make them such a popular (and effective) event giveaway. In fact, we’d wager you probably have a favorite cup that was a gift in your cabinet or even on your desk right now!  Go ahead and check, we’ll wait here.  A recent study showed that 78% of consumers own promotional drinkware, and they’ve had that drinkware for an average of 12 months.  Even if they’re not using the same water bottle, cup, or tumbler daily, that’s a lot of facetime for you or your sponsor's brand! 

With so many options available, we’ve put together a quick guide on things to consider when shopping for drinkware.  From the different styles and materials to some creative value adds you can use to take your gift to the next level, this blog has everything you need to ensure your drinkware gift is the one recipients will be reaching for over and over.

Drinkware is available in a wide variety of styles with various strengths and weaknesses.  Part of picking the perfect gift is understanding exactly how your recipients plan to use them and what features might be most appealing to your particular demographic.  Here are some of the most popular styles below:

Mugs:  Starting the day with a hot beverage like coffee, tea, or cocoa is a big part of many daily routines.  It’s this guaranteed facetime for your brand that makes mugs such a popular drinkware style.  
Why we love it Most of us are creatures of habit, and the routine of a morning cup of coffee or tea is the best way to start the day.  Attaching your brand to that feeling associated with a little morning pick me up in their favorite mug as your recipients prepare to take on the day is a great way to build a lifelong fanbase!
When shopping:  Modern mugs are available in a variety of materials and boast a wide range of customization options.  From fun color combinations to eye-catching imprint methods (like laser engraving, metallic stamping, or laser engraving), look for options that best represent your branding or give you some wiggle room to flex your creative muscles.  Even more important to the recipient than the design is the feel of the mug in their hands, so make sure to think about features like weight and texture.  How does your favorite mug feel in your hand, and what do you like about it?  What size, weight, and hand feel would make your branded mug the one they reach for each morning?

Tumblers:  Ideal for cold drinks like soda, iced coffee/tea, or water.  Tumblers are an affordable and reusable gift for outdoor activities like a day by the water, enjoying a hiking or running trail, and playing (or just watching) sports.
Why we love it: Tumblers are such a versatile option when it comes to drinkware.  Imagine your recipient enjoying a relaxing walk with a refreshing cocktail in their hand or decompressing on the couch after a long day with their favorite warm drink.  Their positive feelings during either are tied to the cup you gifted them and a positive association with the branding.  Overall, the tumbler is a style that can do it all!
When shopping:  Look for options with unique or practical features built into them. Opting for styles with straws, insulation, or a collapsible design is a great way to bring some unique value to your gift.

Water Bottles: Similar to tumblers in their high mobility, water bottles usually come with a lid or some type of straw or mouthpiece to prevent spilling when not in use.  This particular style is great for active lifestyle recipients or those who just want a secure mobile option.
Why we love it: There’s something to be said about the peace of mind of grabbing your bottle, tossing it into your bag, and hitting the road without having to worry about it spilling all over your important office documents or gym clothes.  The mobility and security of a water bottle really can’t be found anywhere else.
When shopping:  Consider taking what makes the water bottle awesome (its spill-proof lid) and leaning into it.  Cool features like recessed or locking spouts, carabiner attachments, retractable straws, and even suctioned bottoms can really highlight the water bottle's strength and make it stand out from any similar items your recipients may already have.

Travel Mug:  The perfect pick for warm or cold drinks on the go, travel mugs are (usually) insulated by default. This particular style is available in a variety of designs and materials.
Why we love it: Whether warming up while being a spectator at a sporting event or just keeping your coffee warm during a long commute, travel mugs combine the mobility of a tumbler or water bottle with even more insulation than is normally found in a mug.  Because this insulation works with cold drinks as well, it’s one of the most reliable travel companions in regard to drinkware!
When shopping:  Because they’re available in a variety of styles, finding the best option can seem like a hopeless task.  Try to focus on one or two key features you’d like your travel mug to include and work from there.  Things like copper insulation, spill-proof lids, or cup holder functionality are all great places to start!

Just as important as the style of your drinkware is the material it’s made of.  This can influence things like feel, weight, price point, and general quality of your gift, making the material a key factor when picking the best option for your recipient and your budget.

Ceramic: Is a popular material that most of us have definitely used at one time or another. Reusable, easy to clean, and considerably durable, ceramic cups and mugs are a creative way for you to bring new spins to an old classic. 
Why we love it:  While ceramic has traditionally been reserved for mugs, modern drinkware uses ceramic for styles like tumblers and travel mugs as well. While not quite as durable as metal, ceramic brings a certain weight to its pieces that are commonly associated with quality (as well as just feeling great to hold). Newer ceramic designs are widely paired with bamboo or cork for an eye-catching, modernized look. 
When shopping:  Just because ceramic is a traditional material doesn’t mean you have to forego modern sensibilities! Look for cool or unique additions like bamboo lids that double as coasters to make your particular ceramic piece, unlike anything your recipient has seen before.

Plastic: A tried and true drinkware material that is affordable and reusable.  While this is the most cost-effective option, plastic products can potentially be perceived as lower quality depending on the quality.  Plastic is also the least sustainable material available and should be avoided as gifts for the more eco-conscious demographics.
Why we love it:  Waste-free or limited-waste events are becoming increasingly popular, but let's face it, gifting everyone a name-brand double-insulated tumbler isn't always in the budget. The affordable nature of plastic is a great way to replace single-use cups at your event and give your attendees something they can use not only through your meeting but at home as well!
When shopping:  When shopping for plastic drinkware, try to find options that are BPA-free.  This is a special type of plastic that is less likely to leech chemicals into your water and is recyclable.  Additionally, plastics made from post-consumer recycled materials or rPET offer a more sustainable plastic option.

Eco Materials:  In a world where sustainability is becoming more and more important, materials such as bamboo, cork, wheat straw, and rPET plastics (as mentioned above) are a stylish and sustainable way to make your drinkware gift a lot greener.  Keep in mind these types of materials are designed to degrade over time.  Check out our Eco-friendly products blog for a more in-depth look at each of these sustainable material options.
Why we love it:  Did you know that 70% of consumers prefer brands that help them make more sustainable choices in their everyday lives?  As your recipient turns heads at the office with their stylish bamboo tumbler, they’ll also be able to share how it's made from renewable material and is biodegradable.  Eco materials are a great way to do right by both your recipient and the environment.
When shopping: With the popularity of sustainable products, it’s not surprising that some companies greenwash (or mislead how environmentally responsible a product is).  Try to look for items that come from a Certifed B-corp company or that have a certification that verifies the product is as sustainable as it claims to be.  When in doubt, ask your vendor!

Metal: The most durable of all materials, stainless steel is the go-to option for high-quality drinkware.  Metal is naturally BPA-free and doesn’t harbor bacteria, making it the safest choice.  The quality of the finished product, however, means that when compared to the alternatives, metal is also often the most expensive material. 
Why we love it:  As we mentioned with mugs, how a cup feels in the hand can really impact one’s overall impression of quality.  Aside from being extremely durable, the heavy nature of metal mugs just feels good.  When a cup not only looks and acts like a high-quality product and feels like it too, it's guaranteed to be the first one your recipient reaches for.
When shopping:  As mentioned above, the benefits of metal typically come with a higher price, so finding options that fit within your budget can be challenging.  Don’t get discouraged!  There are many affordable metal options to explore in regards to decorating to help your gift fit within your spending limits.

While a cup should, at the very least, be able to securely hold our favorite drink, there are a lot of extra features that can both improve a drinkware’s functionality and elevate your brand.

Insulation:  Keeping our hot drink hot and cold drinks cold is an easy way to ensure your drinkware gets extended use long after the gift has been given. When shopping, you’ll likely see “double-walled” and “single-wall,” but what exactly does that mean?  Double-walled insulation uses a vacuum to prevent heat transfer in or out of a bottle meaning your drinks stay the temperature they’re supposed to longer than when stored in single-wall insulation drinkware. The most efficient and most expensive insulated drinkware option is copper vacuum-insulated drinkware. This insulation combines vacuum insulation with copper lining on the inside of the container. All of the major retail brands use this form of insulation for their products.
Why we love it:  When your recipient pours some cold ice water and then embarks on their morning jog, imagine their delight when the last sip of their water is just as cold and refreshing as the first. Insulation makes this possible and ensures your recipient enjoys their favorite beverage until the last sip.
When shopping:  It should come as no surprise that the more insulation a vessel has, the heavier and more expensive they tend to be.  If pricing is a concern, consider opting for non-name brand options that offer similar insulation methods as a reliable way to save a few extra budget dollars.

Size: Certain factors like recipient demographics and how they’re planning to use your drinkware means that bigger isn’t always better when it comes to the perfect cup.  While obviously bigger cups mean more of our favorite beverage, it also means being heavier to lift and manage, as well as potentially not fitting into a cup holder or a Keurig machine- making a cup designed for mobility, less mobile than you think.
Why we love it:  Everyone has different preferences when it comes to how we take our beverages.  Some of us prefer the “the more, the merrier” approach and fill our 30oz. cups up to the brim, while others know their caffeine limits and use their 12oz. cups to help them curb their consumption.  Using size to tailor your gift to the recipient makes it a bit more personal and practical.  Bigger cups also mean bigger branding for you and your sponsors and a great way to optimize the facetime your drinkware receives!
When shopping: Think about what you’re hoping to accomplish with this particular gift.  Are you looking to give your recipients a smaller, highly mobile companion for their busy week or maybe something a little bigger they can use to keep from having to make frequent trips to their kitchen as they work through their inbox?  Having a goal in mind here can help you keep things in perspective and stop you from going too big or too small.  Be sure to use the drill-down options when shopping to get exactly the size range you’d like! 

Name Brands:  You’re likely no stranger to some of the big names in the drinkware scene.  Brands like Yeti, Corkcicle, Arctic Zone, Welly, Camelbak, Swell, and Miir all offer branding on different kinds of their most popular products.  Opting for a name-brand product with your company logo on it is an easy way to have the value associated with the brand translated into your own!
Why we love it:  Name brand drinkware offers highly tested, highly recognizable, and high-quality products that you can effectively partner with to elevate your sponsor’s or your own brand.  When your recipient breaks out their Yeti mug on their next camping trip that has your logo engraved on it, your company not only gets associated with the quality of the Yeti brand but with the good times this quality helps facilitate.
When shopping:  Try to ensure your products are coming from a licensed vendor.  Officially licensed brands will generally also come with documentation to show authenticity.  If you have a specific model in mind, be sure to ask your vendor about it to see if they can source it for you. 

Social Initiatives: Actions speak louder than words, and pairing your brand with a promotional item that boasts a social initiative can go a long way to elevate your image with attendees.  Whether it’s sourcing sustainable and ethically managed materials or donating a percentage of profits to clean water and conservation efforts, finding a product that aligns with your company’s value is just as much a value to your recipients as it is to the planet!
Why we love it:  When you do good, you feel good.  Social initiatives are a great way to give your recipients a sense of doing good every time they use your giveaway.  Knowing their favorite travel tumbler helped bring clean water to a community in need brings a sense of pride and well-being that, in turn, is associated with your brand.
When shopping:  Look for brands or even vendors with initiatives that you can leverage for your gift, and when in doubt, just ask your supplier.  In addition to their high-quality products, many big brand names have some type of social action or initiative in place.  Our Brands with Initiative blog is a great place to get started!

Accessories:  If you want to bring extra value to your gift, consider pairing it with some relevant accessories.  Add-ons like reusable straws, bottle brushes, bottle slings, coasters, can coolers and koozies, or drink warmers all make great additions to an already stellar gift idea.  You can also consider including company-relevant coupons or offers in empty spaces inside the bottle for a more custom gift!
Why we love it:  Aside from making the gift a bit more personal, accessories like this bring even more face time to your brand.  When your recipient hits their next brunch, they aren’t necessarily bringing their travel mug with them, but their new, reusable travel straw is more likely to make it into their bag or pocket.
When shopping:  The biggest factor when including outside accessories is accessibility.  Is the cup you chose able to fit on the warmer you picked out?  Is the straw going to be too long or too short for your tumbler?  Does a disposable coaster really fit with the sustainable travel mug you decided on?  

Let's Get Started!
Drinkware is a versatile gift for any occasion and one that is sure to give your company some valuable face time and your recipient a gift they’ll actually use.  With all the options available and each being so distinct from one another, it can be hard to be sure you’re making the right choice. If you find yourself at an indecisive crossroads, consider putting together a drinkware bundle (if the budget allows).  Of course, with any gift, knowing your audience is the best way to ensure you’re getting the perfect product for the job. If you’re looking for some help getting started or some cool ideas, contact us and let us pair you with a gift that’s as memorable as it is sensible! 

Zack Malpass
Written by Zack Malpass

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