Swag On Steroids (SOS)

Have I suddenly found religion? Having recently worked on the client (corporate) side of business, there is something that I must get off of my chest. As marketing research industry conferences begin to kick in, I am seeing excessive gifts and swag offered as incentives to engage with partners and vendors. Giving away trinkets, such as pens or smartphone pop sockets, is one thing but we are talking over the top gifting. Instead of competing on innovation and ideas, vendors are competing on an ability to lore potential clients to their booth with promotional give aways. Who do you think pays for these “gifts?”

I am not naive and understand that some vendors view swag as the cost of growing business. At the same time, would it not be more compelling to engage on ideas rather than on who has the best swag? Given all the conversation on how marketing research spend is lessening due to sophisticated intelligence tools, throwing more swag at clients is a sure way to further cheapen the value of sound marketing research. Conferences present opportunities to learn, network, and reconnect. Let’s return to using our minds rather than our pockets.