Case Study: Good Hair Day

Products with broad and niche appeal work for a direct-sales hair-care line.

The Pro

Name: Peyton Young
Title: General Manager
Distributorship: BC Graphics in Tempe, AZ

The Sale

Dollar Value: $55,000
Client: A high-quality global hair-care line
Product: A variety of hard goods and apparel, from drinkware, bags and writing instruments to T-shirts, blazers, polos and hoodies

The Promotion

From the workers to the buyers, direct sales has a wealth of diversity, and BC Graphics has more than a decade of experience working with direct-selling companies and helping them address their promotional needs. Two years ago, this led to a significant order: a complete line of branded merchandise for a global direct-sales company of high-end hair-care products. The finished lineup would be sold to the company’s sales reps, for both personal use and for reselling to end-buyers, at the annual national convention as well as on their e-commerce store.

The company’s objective from the beginning was to source and brand items that would fit well with its company culture, while also appealing to a diverse global client base of women and men of all ages. The products were such a hit at the 2016 convention that BC Graphics was brought back to revamp the line and take care of fulfillment for this year’s event.

“We have data from a large amount of past events,” says Young, “so this helps greatly when we’re selecting products and designing a line.”

Young says with a varied target audience, common among direct-selling companies, he and his team always start with items with mass appeal, such as T-shirts, jackets, polos, pens, backpacks or briefcases, drinkware and buttons. Then they branch out into more specialized items with specific appeal for certain segments of the company’s target audience.

“We start to look for trendy items that still fit with the company culture,” says Young. “In this case, for 2017, we included jewelry and trendy fashion-cut shirts that can’t be worn by everyone. But we try to limit the amount of these pieces purchased, simply because the target audience isn’t as big and will purchase fewer of them.”

BC Graphics relies on its expertise, along with its experience in previous events for this client, to ascertain the optimal mix of branded merchandise and make adjustments accordingly. This year, items came from a variety of suppliers, including Pinnacle Designs (asi/78140), SanMar (asi/84863), Leed’s (asi/66887), ETS Express (asi/51197) and BIC Graphic (asi/40480).

One item that Young advises against offering for a large target audience is pants. “We’ve learned they’re a much more personal buy than other apparel pieces,” he says. “They don’t fit the same way on everyone and people’s tastes and body types are very different. While this client really wanted to offer a pair of joggers originally, we still have stock from the first order two years later, and they’ve chosen not to offer any other styles.”

At the most recent convention in February, attended by sales reps from across the world, BC Graphics set up a retail store-inspired booth with the complete line of merch ready for purchase and use by sales reps, and for resale to end-buyers of the hair products. All items had been delivered to the BC Graphics offices in Tempe, AZ, where they were counted and organized, and then put on pallets and trucked to the event in Houston.

It was a success, with best-selling items including a hoodie, cardigan, blazer, yearly planner, jewelry, keyrings, pens and a traditional button with back pin. “The key to this relationship was our desire to sell cool items to their field,” says Young. “We constantly tell direct-sales clients that we’re not looking to just sell them something to get a big order. We want to make sure everything can be resold to their end-users. We want them to be our lifetime customer, not just a one-hit wonder.”

The Takeaways

  1. Look for products that will have mass appeal.
  2. Keep detailed records of what sold well at past events.
  3. Consider a combination of traditional items and trendy pieces, as the client’s budget allows.