As promo merch evolves, we keep our ear to the ground to learn what is trending. Entering into 2023, our team reflected on what we learned at the January PPAI Expo in Vegas (our industry’s largest trade show where our production partners showcase their products) and what we have learned in conversations with clients over the past year. Through our reflection we identified a few trends that shape our recommendations.
As digital printing and automated workflows continue to improve, the revolution of one-piece custom imprinted products (also known as print on demand) is upon us in the promo merch industry. In Vegas, we talked with a number of our production partners that are now offering one-piece production programs. The advantage is that there is no custom inventory kept on hand to fulfill orders, thus reducing product waste and it is easier to add a variety of options for clients. The downside is that the cost per piece is higher. However, for certain campaigns the flexibility of one-piece solutions far outweighs the cost difference. For example, an August 2022 Trends article discussed the rise of gifting as a way to say thank you and pop-up shops. Print on demand is perfectly set up to both manage gifting campaigns and pop-up shops. We expect to see this continue to grow and be a part of what the industry offers moving forward.
Water Bottles with Handles
Trends in drinkware are defined by style and performance. The trend that we saw all over the PPAI Expo were water bottles with handles. For a while, handles seemed to be out with users preferring a sleek bottle. However, the “Stanley” has changed that. The “Stanley,” is not the Stanley Cup, but is made by Stanley, the 100+ year old outdoor company (famous for their green thermoses), that has been the rage in retail over the past year and now we are seeing a number of alternative versions in our industry. It is a high performance, 40 oz water bottle with a straw and handle. What makes it unique within handled drinkware is that it is shaped to fit in a standard car holder. The Stanley wasn’t the only trending water bottle with a handle that we saw. This Elemental Iconic has been trending with a sleek and unique adjustable carrying handle. Another example of a is the H2Go Pine with its unique carrying strap that can be buckled around a backpack and more.
As the Trends article pointed out, stats show direct mail is growing in popularity as an effective marketing tool. We continue to see new promo merch options to support this trend. These include the eco-friendly kraft mailers and a 3D mailer. Another unique direct mail option is Sweeter Cards, which features a full color greeting card that includes a gourmet chocolate bar. We expect to continue to see new and interactive ways to include promo merch in direct mail campaigns.
Promo Merch to Show What Matters to You
The trend of publicly showcasing what matters to you does not seem to be waning anytime soon. Stickers have become super popular over the past few years because people love to showcase what matters to them (places they have been, organizations/schools they support, etc.). They put these on laptops, water bottles and so much more. We are seeing a continued lean into this mindset with items to accessorize other personal belongings. For example, it is common now to see people adding buttons, pins, adhesive or iron-on embroidered patches, and zipper pulls to backpacks and apparel. Another example are the croc charms that encourage users to show off their favorite brands on their crocs!
We hope these trends spark products and ideas you’d like to explore for your next marketing campaign!