How Much Does A Branded Coffee Mug Cost?

If you want to help to grow your brand, inspire your tribe, or create a celebration with your organization, you will want to include branded drinkware.  It makes sense!  A great coffee mug or tumbler can be used nearly every day.  It’s a very intimate branded piece (I mean, you put it in your mouth!)…and you don’t have to worry about sizes.  A great piece of branded drinkware fits everyone!

But how much does a branded coffee mug cost?

It’s a good question…but a tough one.  As we mentioned in this blog post about how much a custom t-shirt costs, it’s a little like asking “how much does a car cost?”  It’s a tough question to answer because it depends on a lot of factors.  So today we will tackle many of those factors so you can be more knowledgeable when picking the branded coffee mug you put your brand on!

What Kind of Material?

The kind of branded coffee mug you want can play a huge role in the cost.  It’s an important question for you to understand because it will ultimately play a big role in whether or not your recipients actually want to use the mug.  As I say all of the time, “Most everyone has a favorite mug.  But they will often set that aside if you give them one they like better.”

Ceramic

When people think of a traditional coffee mug, the first thing that comes to mind is often the white ceramic coffee mug.  And while that is certainly still an option, there are plenty of styles and options around a ceramic piece.  Why use ceramic?  For many people, it comes down to flavor.  Why? Because ceramic is a solid and neutral material, it neither absorbs nor imparts flavors, leaving the coffee to taste just as it should.

Plastic

To me, the reason to choose a plastic coffee mug or tumbler is simple…price.  Price is an important consideration in any branding campaign.  But it should not be the only consideration.  If you are going to use a plastic coffee tumbler, make sure the piece is BPA-free (here’s why).  The safety of your customers, employees, and team members need to be at the top of your priority list…so please consider that when choosing your option!  As a positive, there are some great BPA-free options and some are actually Made In The USA.

Stainless or Metal

Stainless or metal coffee mugs have become more and more popular over the past 10 years.  I love my stainless travel mugs…especially when I am on the road.  In addition, stainless has a very high perceived value with your clients.  This adds power to the “gift” when you provide it to your recipients.  Any time your client thinks you spent $20 on an item you spent $15 on…you are on the right side of that equation!  In addition, a stainless coffee mug or tumbler often offers some cool and creative decoration techniques (more on that later).

Finally, in recent years, the technology around stainless has evolved to keep your hot drinks hot and your cold drinks cold for hours (think Yeti).  This leads nicely to…

Single Versus Double Wall

For years, having a double-walled drinkware piece simply meant the mug would not “sweat.”  But over the past 10 years, the technology of the Double-wall Vacuum Sealed Coffee Mugs has totally evolved.  How does it work?

The key to this high-performance that keeps drinks cold (or hot) longer than traditional double-wall drinkware is a vacuum seal. This process essentially removes all air and other matter from between the interior and exterior walls of the tumbler. Creating a vacuum chamber in the middle of the tumbler stops all heat transfer by either conduction, convection, or radiation.

As you might expect, the double-walled vacuum sealed coffee mug is more expensive.  But if you are looking for someone to connect with your brand for an extended period of time…it well might be worth it!

How Is It Being Decorated?

As you may or may not know, there are lots of ways to decorate a coffee mug.  And depending on what way you go, it can have a huge impact on the cost of your project.  I will go over a few of them here.

Silk Screening

I like to consider this the most standard decoration technique for coffee mugs.  Silkscreen is a sophisticated stenciling technique for surface printing, in which a design is cut out of paper or another thin, strong material and then printed by rubbing, rolling, or spraying paint or ink through the cut-out areas.  Most of your one or two color imprinting options can be well managed with this technique.  This can be a very cost-effective way to imprint your coffee mugs, assuming you have enough quantity.

Pad Print

Pad printing can be a good technique for imprinting mugs when you only need a small quantity.  It’s essentially the act of creating a die and “stamping” that imprint onto an item.  It’s usually a process used to imprint items that are difficult to decorate using other techniques and is often done one at a time.

Sublimation

Using sublimation, you can create beautiful, full-color designs on a coffee mug.  What is sublimation?  Sublimation printing uses heat to essentially bring ink and fabric together as one. The process allows the ink to go from a solid to a gas without turning to liquid, a bit like dry ice. The conversion is initiated by heat and controlled by pressure.  The upside is that, when done right, the images are beautiful and they are not going to come off.  There is a downside though…most often, this can be a time-consuming and costly process.

Laser Etching

Laser etching can be a really cool-looking and elegant way to imprint a coffee mug or tumbler.  Laser engraving is a process that vaporizes materials into fumes to engrave permanent, deep marks. The laser beam acts as a chisel, incising marks by removing layers from the surface of the material.  What is created is a light imprint or a tone-on-tone look that can look sharp without being completely “in your face” from a branding perspective.

Other Factors To Consider

Okay…so we have talked about the kind of coffee mug or tumbler and the way it might be decorated.  But there are a few more things you want to consider (or questions you might want to ask) before you order your organization’s coffee mugs.  Here are a few!

How Many Do You Need?

In nearly every area of life we understand that when we order more, we can often get a better price.  That is true with coffee mugs as well.  On the other hand, if you only need them for a small team, you might consider your decoration options above so you can get the number you actually need.  For example, some people can pad print or sublimate just a few coffee mugs, while you usually need to silkscreen more.

Personalization

We have long known that personalization is a powerful tool.  It’s simple.  If you put my name on something (maybe in addition to your logo), then I am much more likely to keep it!  That puts my name with your brand on a branded piece that I use all of the time.  As I said…powerful.  But recently the technology to personalize has improved.  More and more branded items are allowing you to personalize your customer’s name on them.  Combine that with a time (during the pandemic) when it was more important than ever that we do NOT get our coffee mugs mixed up…and the number of orders that include personalization has increased a ton.  It’s a powerful tool to use when creating a branding campaign (especially for current customers), but it does usually add cost.

Where Are They Shipping From?

One factor that is often forgotten is shipping.  When it comes to branded drinkware, the location the items are shipping from is very important.  Coffee mugs are expensive to ship, so I highly recommend that you ask where the FOB point is.  If you are in Ohio, and you need an order quickly, shipping 288 coffee mugs from California can become cost-prohibitive.

But How Much Do They Cost?

Yes.  I realize that after all of that I have still not given you an answer.  I think you may now know why!   It’s even harder as I write this because current issues with the supply chain are wreaking havoc on pricing!  But because I want to give you an idea, I will define the parameters and give you an idea of what you should be paying…regardless of who you buy custom coffee mugs from.  Below I will define the parameters for each of the options below.  It will not be a hard and fast quote (you can reach out and request that here), but it can at least give you an idea of where to start.

Traditional Coffee Mug with One Color Imprint

This is basic and cost-effective.  You can do something like this for anywhere between $2.15 and $4.00 (depending on quantity).  And as I mentioned above, there are plenty of other ceramic styles and options to choose from.

Basic White Coffee Mug with Full-Color Imprint

  This is the basic mug option that allows you to provide full-color graphics.  With an item like this, you will be looking at anywhere from $4.25 to $7.50.

Plastic Travel Coffee Mug with One Color Imprint

Above I mentioned some of the concerns with plastic coffee mugs, but there are plenty of great BPA-free options.  When considering this option you might be looking at anywhere from $3.50 to $7.50.

Stainless Double-Walled Travel Mug with Full-Color Imprint

This is the most expensive option, but it’s also the one with the highest perceived value.  The range is wide depending on the brand specificity.  For this option, you can spend anywhere from $10.00 to $30.00.  This is the reason I have said that you should never buy a Yeti-branded coffee mug.  There are some amazing options for this style.  If you need help selecting one, feel free to reach out and we can help.

As you can see, there is a lot to consider.  My hope is this arms you with information on how to get the right coffee mug for the right budget for your brand.  Good luck!

If you need help with your next promotion, please reach out to us.  You can learn more about how we help with branded merchandise here.

Written by: Kirby Hasseman

Kirby Hasseman is the CEO of Hasseman Marketing & Communications. Kirby hosts a weekly Web show called Delivering Marketing Joy where he interviews business leaders from around the country. Kirby has published four books. His most recent is “Fan of Happy.” His book, called "Delivering Marketing Joy" is about doing “promo right” and is perfect for people in the industry and customers. He also wrote “Think Big For Small Business” and “Give Your Way to Success. All are available on Amazon.