Cheap! Cheap! Cheap!
July 7, 2010 6:21 AM   Subscribe

I work in China providing consulting for companies wishing to export from here. One of my customers, a Brazilian battery company, wishes to purchase an order for a cheap electronic product to be given as a free gift to its customers in order to promote the batteries. Price range: 50 - 70 cents. Order quantity: approx. 50,000. So, what's the COOLEST and MOST UNUSUAL thing the hivemind can think of?

Yes, I know. I'm asking a lot for 50 - 70 cents but it's the price set by my client. I expressed my doubts that it can be done. Let's see!
posted by Zé Pequeno to Technology (23 answers total)
This seems like a marketing question, not a technology issue. Is this an appropriate use of ask.metafilter?
posted by Bet Glenn at 6:31 AM on July 7, 2010

Bet Glenn, why on earth wouldn't it be appropriate? I'm not advertising a company or anything like that. I'm asking a simple question. Your response is unhelpful.
posted by Zé Pequeno at 6:34 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I realise you asked for "cool and unusual", but to my mind, the freebies that promote a brand the best are those that are most useful. A novelty item might amuse me for a few minutes but will quickly be thrown in a drawer and forgotten about, whereas something useful will remind me of the brand every time I use it. Examples: LED torch keychain or mini battery-powered fan.

This seems like a marketing question, not a technology issue. Is this an appropriate use of ask.metafilter?

Yes, it is.
posted by EndsOfInvention at 6:35 AM on July 7, 2010

How about a thumbdrive-sized mp3 player?
posted by chillmost at 6:36 AM on July 7, 2010

Is this an appropriate use of ask.metafilter?

Assuredly. He's asking what's the coolest electronic device that can be bought in bulk for 50-70 cents.

OP, what kind of battery are you talking about? What kind of discounts can you get for that size order? I have no idea the economies of scale that you can get. Is that too cheap for a little laser pointer? A little soundbox that plays scifi sounds (one button for phaser, one button for explosion)? I think we need a little more detail.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:36 AM on July 7, 2010

Okay, preferably they would want something that uses their actual batteries (AA, AAA, C, D or 9-volt) but that's not essential. 50,000 is a relatively large order but I will have to hunt around to see whether this price range is realistic or not. Hit me with your ideas, whatever you think might be doable with a dollar or two, and I'll see what I can do. The useful factor is definitely one I'm in favour of. Useful and cool, even better.
posted by Zé Pequeno at 6:39 AM on July 7, 2010

Check out the $2 gadgets section at DealExtreme. Many of these can probably be had in your price range if bought in bulk.
posted by Mwongozi at 6:43 AM on July 7, 2010 [2 favorites]

When I was in China I was somewhat fascinated by the keychain laser clocks. They'd project the digital time on whatever you pointed them at. Simple, kind of useless, but probably cheap enough and they need a battery.
posted by backwards guitar at 6:44 AM on July 7, 2010

I think for 50 to 70 cents, you're going to have trouble finding anything battery powered. has a lot of the give away type things that would work for the 50,000 amount/marketing type idea...but battery powered is a problem
posted by Eicats at 6:52 AM on July 7, 2010

Not cool or unusual, but useful and cheap: keychain bottle-openers. Whenever I see these I pick one up. You never know when you'll want a beer! Those little suckers have saved the day more than once.
posted by vincele at 6:52 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

Maybe a small bright LED light? Either of the pocket flashlight variety, or something adhesive that could be put under a cabinet?
posted by Admiral Haddock at 6:54 AM on July 7, 2010

wow- just saw Mwongozi's post and I stand corrected. I love the mini pig light. :)
posted by Eicats at 6:54 AM on July 7, 2010

We just bought some of the keychain L.E.D. flashlights - about $2 each and we only bought a couple of hundred. I'd imagine in the 50K quantity they would easily be in the $.50 range. These take a little button battery, but with a little looking finding one that runs on a AAA battery doesn't sound impossible.
posted by COD at 6:57 AM on July 7, 2010

Revision-- Have the bottle opener keychain flash the company's name for maximum tackiness-awesomeness and to meet your specifications.
posted by vincele at 6:58 AM on July 7, 2010

Key ring LED flashlight

Random coin toss simulator (0/1 preferred)

Battery tester
posted by Brian B. at 6:58 AM on July 7, 2010

This Mini Pig Flashlight (from the page Mwongozi suggested) is adorable, and presumably powered by batteries. Maybe you could you print the company name on the side?
posted by Georgina at 6:59 AM on July 7, 2010 [1 favorite]

I would think about a heat-sensitive mug for coffee - where the heat of a full cup would make a graphic read "charged" like a battery charger. This would both be useful and good branding, given your company is a battery company.
posted by MuffinMan at 7:00 AM on July 7, 2010

So many AWESOME suggestions. Keep them coming! I'm liking some of the non-battery powered suggestions, too, so I'm not going to rule them out.
posted by Zé Pequeno at 7:02 AM on July 7, 2010

In the keychain flashlight department, a friend of mine has one that actually projects a small image (beer logo) if you shine it on a surface about 1-3 feet away. It was a neat take on that device.
posted by Phredward at 7:19 AM on July 7, 2010

I bought a tiny compass (circular, floaty disk that points north) for about 50 cents retail the other day. Compasses are useful to me (I like to use paper maps in new places), but I realize they're not for everyone. On the other hand, it's a lovely metaphor, and compasses look cool.

A level is another idea, but I don't know how useful one would be at very small sizes. Maybe somewhat useful.

You know what would be classy? This is definitely not what you're looking for, but: a tiny, pretty thing -- maybe a little doggie or a tiny laptop computer charm (in metal, not plastic) or even a pretty metal battery charm -- along with a note that your company had donated $0.50 for every charm distributed to a foundation for giving kids computers, or to the volunteer engineers project that's engineering steady power supplies to 3rd world hospitals. Don't assume that a tiny flat metal battery replica, if it's cool, would be discarded by dudes.
posted by amtho at 8:16 AM on July 7, 2010

I saw a (prototype?) flashlight where the guts of the flashlight were all on top of the connector to a 9v battery - no enclosure for the battery at all. Not only was it tiny and cool but if your logo etc are on the battery itself then you don't need to worry about putting a logo on the tchotchke.

Does someone make a ballpoint with a light in it (powered by AAA or button cell) at that price point? Pens never get thrown away in my office/home. Not highly valued but they persist.
posted by phearlez at 8:25 AM on July 7, 2010

If I was a company that made batteries, I'd want to use a gift that promotes my product, not someone else's. That seems to be the case with things like flashlights, clocks, or anything else battery powered. Your customer's product in all these cases is hidden from view and, potentially, will degrade the customer's product by just sitting around (for instance, something that is "always on" like a clock will degrade the battery life). What about promoting their actual product?

Off the top of my head, things that are useful to me in the context of loose batteries are battery organizers (for different cells or for separating "dead" from "used" from "new"), cases (I hate having loose batteries around the house) and testers (possibly integrated into a branded case). Integrate something cool/interesting into the tester and then you've got something both useful and interesting.
posted by sub-culture at 9:34 AM on July 7, 2010

Who makes toys for McDonalds Happy Meals? They are often electronic, and if you got them without needing to pay for licensing they could probably be made pretty cheaply. I imagine they don't have to be toys per se, but small LEDs powered by button cells are extremely cheap.
posted by AltReality at 9:59 AM on July 7, 2010

« Older Calling all confection-makers!   |   Repelling the Fantastic Mr. Freeloader Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.