Predicting teacher tastes is a guessing game
This news may not quite rank up there with the recent announcement of the Apple Watch, but the Alberta Teachers’ Association store also has a few new products on offer this spring.
For example, new this year are two items — a pen and a coffee mug — that are labelled in French as well as English.
“I’m quite proud of the fact that we’re now offering at least some bilingual items,” said Shelley Magnusson, the Association’s executive staff officer in charge of promotional items.
Also new this year is an updated travel mug that does a better job of showing off the ATA logo. The vacuum-sealed unit also keeps coffee hot for five hours, Magnusson said.
The Association’s store offers more than 30 items, including notepads, binders, an iPad case, scarves, ties and lapel pins. Prices range from 25 cents to $100. All items are priced for cost recovery.
“We try to keep it reasonably priced, and we try to have a really wide variety,” Magnusson said.
Most sales of ATA promotional items are to organizers of Association-related events and are used as giveaways. Most items bear slogans from two of the ATA’s advertising campaigns: “The Future: It’s Why Teachers Teach” and “Public Education Works.”
“They’re both part of showing what the ATA stands for and who we are,” Magnusson said. “The more we can get our name out there, the better.”
In her role, Magnusson is constantly considering new swag items to replace those that aren’t selling. Technology is a factor in that equation. For example, the pedometer, calculator and alarm clock are all on their way out, as cellphones have made these largely obsolete.
Predicting what people will want to buy is far from an exact science. Some of the items thought to have the most appeal just gather dust while others offered on a whim become wildly popular. For example, some people laughed at Magnusson when she added shopping cart coins to the store shelves but these $2.50 items were one of the hottest sellers last year.
Another hot seller was the optical mini mouse, a small computer mouse on a retractable USB cord. About 2,000 of these sold last year, Magnusson estimated.
“It’s really hard to know what people are going to want to buy,” she said. “You just do your best guess and hope.” ❚