Can you provide an unboxing experience?

Kitting is one of the biggest things happening in the promotional products segment right now. The practice — essentially, bundling multiple items together for direct distribution to end-users — isn’t necessarily new, but it exploded during the pandemic as employers, businesses, and suddenly-virtual events looked to reach and engage remote audiences. It has since caught on with some of the biggest brands on the planet, and is expected to remain a promotional marketing staple that will drive business for promotional products companies for years to come.

One reason kitting has become so popular is that it provides an unboxing experience for recipients and, by including multiple products, raises the perceived value of the package. But the bigger reason may be the way kitting allows businesses and brands to tell a more complete story than they otherwise could through any single printed or promotional product. The best kits combine a variety of branded merchandise with printed items — postcards, marketing collateral, etc. — and decoration on the exterior and interior of the box itself. Some kits incorporate locally-sourced or small-batch items for a more curated, personal touch.

The end result is a complete marketing package that creates a stronger connection between brand and recipient by leveraging the combined strengths of its various components.

“It can be hard to tell a nuanced and moving story in the typically small imprint area of a promotional product,” says Paul Keely, owner of King Print & Promo, a promotional distributor company. “And a printed piece is a great vehicle for the story, but doesn’t have the emotional impact or staying power of a promotional gift. Together, our customers’ stories [come] to life in a uniquely compelling way.”

Here are a few prominent kitting examples we’ve seen over the past two years:

Velveeta and Goldbelly’s “Veltini” Kit. As part of the promotion for its new cheese-infused martini available at BLT Restaurant Group locations, Velveeta partnered with online food marketplace Goldbelly for a kit featuring supplies to make the drink at home. The kit included various Velveeta products, a cocktail shaker, drink stirrers, and branded coasters, among other items.

Nike and Xbox’s “Space Jam: A New Legacy” bundle. As part of the 2021 film’s massive merchandising push, Nike and Xbox released exclusive, cross-promotional kits containing special-edition “Space Jam” branded shoes and gaming controllers. The standard kits shipped in a full-color box, but the brands also sent selected influencers a special kit designed to look like a locker and personalized with each recipient’s name.

Shake Shack’s summer camp in a box. Shake Shack partnered with The Fresh Air Fund for a massive kit aimed at raising money for underserved children whose camps and outdoor programs were canceled due to COVID in 2020. The “Shack Camp Box” came packed with dozens of products designed to keep kids active through summer-themed activities like a lemonade stand and field day.