All in the (Brand) Name? How to Fit Quality Promo in Your Budget

Maple Ridge Farms Team

You’ve educated your clients on the power of promotional products, so they want to use them in their next marketing campaign or promotion. They’re looking for quality products, so you need name brand products. Right? While we love name brand products, we also recognize the quality of brands that may not be widely recognized and other private label products – especially in our industry. Let’s talk about how to fit promotional products (and food gifts) into your client’s budget without sacrificing the quality they want.

Show Private Label Products

Working with your client’s budget? Don’t lower your expectations; show private label products. During our forty years in the industry, we’ve seen exceptional quality in products produced by our fellow suppliers that are not necessarily name brand. For suppliers who only sell through the promotional products industry, there isn’t as much of an opportunity to build brands that may be recognized by your clients.

While some buyers do ask for Maple Ridge Farms gifts by name, most only know our gourmet gifts by their deliciousness. We discovered this wonderful industry (and family) during our first year of existence, so we’ve been helping our valued distributor partners and buyers build and promote their brands ever since.

We are honored to carry such esteemed and delicious brands as Godiva, Ghirardelli, Wisconsin Cheese and Jelly Belly, but we’re also proud of our non-name brand gifts. For example, our rich, creamy Cocoa Dusted Truffles are crafted in the centuries-old tradition of Europe’s finest chocolatiers. Recipients are usually rendered speechless because they’re busy savoring the decadent treat—not worrying if they’re a recognizable brand.

While we’re talking about the cost-saving benefits of using what some may deem as “non” name brand or private label products, let’s dig a little deeper into why private labeling products helps reduce costs. When a supplier carries a name brand, they pay the company who owns it to offer it in their line. We’re committed to delivering the highest quality food gifts, so we do pay to carry some incredible name brands in our line, and we’re happy to bring these brands to you. (If you’re ever looking for a name brand food gift we don’t carry, ask us. We can probably get it for you!) By private labeling products, suppliers can better control costs in the supply chain and pass those savings on to you.

Show Proof of Quality 

If your clients prefers more recognized brands, they may be skeptical of private label alternatives. Unfortunately, we all have stories of poor product quality. So, how can you demonstrate the quality of the alternatives you’re recommending? Show proof.

Samples are a wonderful way for you and your client to ensure the product you’re recommending meets everyone’s quality standards. Typically, random samples will be enough to measure product quality. However, you can request a spec sample to see the final decorated product. This may make sense on a larger order, but random and virtual samples can usually give you everything you need to make your decision and help your budget.

We offer random, virtual, spec and tasting samples to help you seal the deal. Virtual samples bring your branded gift to life and can be a powerful selling tool. They’re free, so take advantage of them. It’s so important for your client to be able to see the decorated product, especially if it’s a custom product or extensive decoration is involved. We want your clients to love how their gifts turn out!

In addition to proving quality, random and tasting samples help your clients feel the product and packaging for themselves. They may discover an unexpected texture or realize the packaging is perfect for their needs after thinking it wasn’t while looking at pictures. One of the many benefits of promotional products is their tangible nature, so put a sample in your client’s hands.

While virtual and random samples are powerful selling tools, sometimes you do need a spec sample. If you’re working on a large or custom order, it will be worth the time and money to produce a spec. Make sure everyone is on the same page before you move into production.

In addition to samples, ask your suppliers about testimonials or case histories. These are another way to help gauge the quality of products and the service of a company if you’re using them for the first time. Case histories and studies are valuable in multiple ways, including generating ideas for your clients.

Show Certifications & Third Party Testing

There’s increased scrutiny of supply chains today, as there should be. Your clients want to know where their promotional products are manufactured, what materials are used and where and how they’re decorated. Ask your supplier (or check their website) for information on applicable certifications and third party testing. Keep in mind that these will depend on what kinds of products they carry.

As a food gifts supplier, we must meet strict standards on safe food handling and storage along with training on health and hygiene issues. We’re registered with, regulated by and subject to inspection by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). In addition to the FDA, we’re licensed, inspected and regulated by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Division of Food Safety. Their oversight includes random site inspections, so we’re always ready on the Farm.

We meet all these government standards before we even get into other certifications, such as CPSIA, Prop 65, the PPAI Code of Conduct and the Food Allergen Labeling and Consumer Protection Act of 2004 (FALCPA). Learn more about our compliance efforts, or contact us (or your promotional products professional) with your specific questions.

While we value the oversight and safety in certifications and third party testing, it’s important to remember that there are numerous certifications available on different topics, as different organizations feel they have the best options. If your client requests a specific certification, ask them why they’re interested in that certification. They may be looking for the safety or supply chain transparency that certification provides, so educate them on any similar certifications.

Talk to your supplier partner about your client’s concerns, so they can let you know how they can address them. For example, they may have a similar certification or be able to provide documentation of their supply chain to satisfy your client’s concerns. As part of our environmental and social responsibility efforts, our chocolate is Rainforest Alliance certified, which ensures that the farms growing our cocoa (the principle ingredient of chocolate) have met the environmental, social, and economic standards of the Sustainable Agriculture Network.

We understand why your clients love name brands, and we do too. But remember, it’s okay to show private label product – especially from your trusted suppliers. You don’t have to sacrifice quality. Show proof of quality of the products you’re recommending with samples, testimonials and case histories. Assure your clients they’re associating their brand with quality products from reputable supply chains with supplier certifications and third party testing results.

The promotional products that we create for buyers (including food gifts) reflect on everyone involved, including suppliers, distributors and end users. Let’s work together to produce quality products and thoughtful campaigns we can all be proud of, name brand or not.