Bruce Fox Blog

Trophy Value

Posted by Kristina Hublar on Aug 6, 2019 1:31:00 PM

Estimated Read Time: 7 Minutes

Trophy Value

You hear the phrase often enough – “trophy value.”

But what does it mean?

In the promo world, it offers recipients recognition and a long-lasting feeling of appreciation for their hard work and loyalty. According to DCR Strategies, “Much like winning an actual trophy, such as in a sporting event, a trophy value reward serves as a cherished memory that continues well after the life of the reward itself, creating long-lasting satisfaction.”

That makes sense, trophies create a cherished memory. They create a sense of pride when done right. They are a symbol to others of your success and triumph.

Trophy Value

However, “trophy value” has become a non-specific buzzword. One that has permeated into the core of the promotional products industry, leading into the oversaturation of the word that now holds no actual meaning or value.


Three reasons.

Reason 1: Racing to the Bottom

In the promotional products world, you are constantly competing with a number of major players inside and outside of the industry.

Many prospects, or even current clients, check online before contacting you, so they already have an idea on how much things cost. Most distributors want to close their eyes from this reality but consider how often you get requests looking for a specific object or get compared to other companies.

Many of the larger companies have made agreements and have low prices, so it’s difficult for smaller distributors to compete.

Which means what?

Distributors must differentiate themselves beyond price or attempt to compete with these rock-bottom prices.

Since many in the industry don’t want to guide their clients to the best product rather than the best price, they are competing for price – which is a race to the bottom. One that they will only lose. No one can compete with the giants.

So where does that leave “trophy value?”

It means that your customers know what things are worth – especially the everyday products that you’re slapping a logo on. Your customers know how much a mug is worth. They can buy a set of 4 on Amazon for around $19.99 with free shipping. But you are special because you can put a custom logo on it. So can Amazon.

People know how much these products are worth. You can ask your purchasing department, a friend, or even your teenage daughter, they all know how much a hat, beach towel, mixer, or calendar is. Or they can find out quickly.

All of the things you’re selling now that can be found at a local store or online – anyone can guess how much they cost. Why do you think shows like The Price is Right exist – and have been popular for so long? Anyone can participate because everyone shops and knows the general price. Including those “X” products you’re selling.

People know how much everything is worth. And they also know that they can get free shipping with their Prime account.

So, when you recommend your clients to give their clients, employees, and stakeholders “X” products, which have “trophy value,” you are doing two things....

1. Helping your clients put a number on their recipients’ hard work, dedication, and contributions. Stating that it’s only worth $___ amount.

How? Because people already know how much that watch, briefcase, etc. costs. If you don’t think that they look at the gift and calculate how much it cost the company and equate it to what you see their contributions are worth, you are delusional.

  1. You’re taking the easy way out. It’s cheaper and easier to provide recommendations for any old thing – jacket, gift basket, or imprinted drinkware, than to provide a unique solution. And no, a product that can be bought on Amazon or the grocery store is not unique (including one with a logo slapped on). Your recipients think the same. It’s cheap, easy, and a cop-out. They are judging you by what you give.

Reason 2: Sell Price Vs Perceived Price

As mentioned, people already know what most objects are worth.


Now, let’s look at the hole many promotional products professionals are falling into.

Sell price versus perceived price – although the sell price was X amount, the recipients only care about one thing – their perceived price.

That’s what they see as what they’re worth. What their “reward” or award is worth.

So, what does that mean for trophy value? If your gift isn’t at the perceived price that they believe they deserve, the recipients will take offense.

Not what your clients want, right? Making their top employees or their business partners mad because their gift was a poor reflection of them? At that point, it is better to not give anything at all if it’s going to make people frustrated with your client.

Furthermore, we’ve all had this happen to us – started with high-quality and great budget then suddenly everything plummets.


However, you never want your customers to run into this problem.


Trying to pass off something as expensive, but it’s actually cheap. That leaves the recipient feeling cheated and bitter.

A lose-lose, right?

That’s the importance of perceived price. It doesn’t matter if the sell price was high, if the recipients perceive the gift to be cheap, inappropriate, or impersonal. It’s a slap in the face for them. The recognition is no longer effective.

Reason 3: “Trophy Value” Doesn’t Actually Equate to the Value of a Trophy

The assumption is that people will equate the given object on the same level (or better) to a trophy. But they don’t.


Because unique and personal trophies don’t have a price tag that anyone can look up.

Anyone can look up how much that leather bag was, but no one can look up how much a custom trophy is because it was designed and built from scratch. There’s nothing else out there to compare it to.

Thus, “trophy value” becomes null. Nothing can hold trophy value when it can’t be held on the same level as a trophy.

Humans perceive awards on a higher level, especially if they are symbolic.

When the value of the award becomes “irreplaceable” and priceless because it embodies their hard work, dedication, and achievement, there is no way something with “trophy value” can equate to a real trophy. Especially when compared to objects that can be picked up anywhere and the value/price is common knowledge.

“Trophy value” is a hallow phrase that is eroding what the promotional products industry truly stands for. Promotional products professionals should be looking for solutions that will meet and exceed the needs of their clients, not just some cheap product that sounds good. Even though the client asks for X product, take the time to learn more about the problem to devise an appropriate solution. Guide your clients because you are the expert. Don’t just be a “yes” person.

Ask why they need X products. By asking questions and guiding your clients, you will provide value beyond price.

By understanding that “trophy value” is a false and misleading term, you can then transition into being a sales leader who can offer what your clients and their recipients are really looking for. And what will hold the true value of a trophy – a unique and custom trophy/award.

Have questions? Check out some resources we’ve developed for our promotional products professionals. Or reach out – we’ll be happy to help.

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Bruce Fox Marketing ProfessionalKristina Hublar is your friendly neighborhood Marketing Specialist at Bruce Fox, Inc., which means she is the person behind the keyboard for the social media, emails, website, and other marketing efforts. In her spare time, you’ll find her plotting her next road trip, bobbing along to music while crafting, spending time with loved ones, or with her nose in a book.  

Tags: Sales tools for distributors, Challenges faced by distributors, Objections posed by distributors, Benefits for the end clients