For many people January and February mark more than just the beginning of a new year. It is also the beginning of a new trade show season. In the promotional products, printing and packaging industry, this is the time of year that new products are rolled out and promotional professionals can start to identify the latest trends. Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), an industry organization with more than 15,000 members, recently held its annual Expo. This is the largest industry trade show, with more than 250,000 products on display. Here are some of the new products and trends we spotted on the show floor:
Brands: We’ve seen this trend emerging over the past couple years and it isn’t slowing down. Retail brands are becoming more and more ingrained into the promotional product world. Co-branding with a recognizable, high quality brand is becoming an attractive option for marketers as they look for ways to increase the value, impact and staying power of the products they pick for their promotions. This year at the Expo, an entire section of the million square foot show floor was dedicated exclusively to retail and high-end branded products. North Face, Columbia, Coleman, Bose and Google are just a few of brands with a strong presence in the industry.
Brand-inspired: Traditional manufacturers are taking note of the retail trend. The fastest growing suppliers are modeling their products off retail trends. When you hear “corporate apparel” you might first think of boxy polos or maybe an ill-fitting jacket. There are so many more options now. It appears that suppliers are taking great strides in adopting retail brand style, fit and comfort into consideration.
Decoration: Even more interesting (to me) than the brands and styles of trending apparel, is the decoration methods that are available. Nothing is off limits. I saw branded hood-linings, the inside of collars and every location in between. The trend expands to other products too. You can now print inside of mugs, let your designs bleed off the edge of products and more. Graphic designers and creative professionals are going to love the unlimited options for these products.
Drinkware: Drinkware is one of the most popular promotional items. It is practical, fun and fits nearly every demographic. This is why suppliers continue to “pour” their time and effort into developing more and better drinkware options. You might think you’ve seen it all, but that is never the case with drinkware. Combining new styles with new decoration techniques has resulted in truly unique pieces from custom shapes, unique materials, branded lids, actual speakers integrated into water bottles and much more.
Socks! We’ve seen branded socks gaining popularity, but they held a stronger presence than ever on the tradeshow floor this year. This item is fun, comfy, a little quirky and can easily be worked into marketing promotions and socks lend themselves to witty campaigns with creative copywriting.
It’s easy to fall back on the same old promos, but with the industry evolving faster than ever, you owe it to your marketing efforts to keep an eye on the trends and options that are becoming more available and affordable than ever before. Check back often as we report on the new trends popping up to enhance your promotions!