New year, new promotional product trends! This is one of my favorite articles to write each year, because it allows me to look back at how the industry has changed and make predictions about new directions for the future.
If you haven’t read my previous trend-predicting posts, get caught up here:
Overview: 2018 Promotional Product Trends
While other years have been marked by large shifts in the industry, 2018 will be a year of alignment. Retail trends continue to permeate the promotional world as consumers are exposed to new and innovative products. Functionality is pairing with impeccable design to elevate the expectations of product recipients.
What does this mean for organizations looking to order promotional items in 2018? It means your selection is better than ever! From apparel to technology to drinkware and everything in between, promotional items have opened up to allow organizations more creative freedom than ever before. What an exciting time to be thinking about company branding!
Without further ado, let’s dive into the trends.
The 2018 Trends
Trend #1: Brand recognition is more attractive than ever
Retail brands continue to capture attention in the promo product world, and it’s not hard to see why. People are naturally drawn to brands that are recognized for their outstanding quality. It makes sense that organizations would want to align themselves with these well-respected brands by using their products as promotions.
The rapid spread of this trend can largely be traced back to social media. Who doesn’t love following their favorite brands on various social platforms? Retail brands know how to leverage the power of social media to tell their stories in a compelling way. And with social media’s ever-increasing ability to influence consumers, brand recognition is becoming more and more noticeable.
If you’re looking to purchase promotional products in 2018, pay attention to retail trends. Not only are retail brands influencing the types of products that people want today, but the features of those products as well. There may be no better example of this right now than insulated drinkware.
Popular drinkware brands such as Camelbak, Yeti, and S’well have conditioned people to expect a certain level of quality from water bottles and travel mugs. Because consumers know that these high-quality products are out there, anything that doesn’t meet those standards is immediately thought of as lesser—and is much less likely to be appreciated by the recipient. Why use a travel mug that can only keep your drink hot for half an hour when you know other mugs will keep it hot for four hours!
If premium, retail-branded promotional products aren’t in your budget, never fear. There are plenty of “lookalike” products with nearly the exact same features and level of quality you’re looking for. And here’s a secret: many of the non-branded products are actually made by the same companies that make the name brand ones!
Remember, it’s the design, quality, and performance of these retail brands that attracts people. In 2018, select promotional items based on the quality of their features to stay on-trend.
Trend #2: The buying power is shifting
Traditional promotional items and giveaways are taking a backseat to unique, innovative, and useful products. Why is this trend occurring? Part of it is because the the key decision-makers at organizations are getting younger.
As organizations hire more millennials into their workforces, they’re providing buying power to a younger generation—one that is constantly surrounded by the influences I described above. This is leading to a shift in the types of promotional items organizations are purchasing.
This trend actually works both ways. For organizations that want to purchase promo items, millennial influencers have an increased impact on exactly what those items will be. For marketers who want to order effective promotional items in 2018 to reach key decision-makers, keep in mind that millennials have surpassed Gen Xers and Baby Boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. labor force. Select promotional items that will appeal to this generation that values creativity, uniqueness, and usefulness.
Trend #3: Adding value is key to a promotional item’s success
With the rise of lifestyle trends like de-cluttering, downsizing, and minimalism, people are very reluctant to hold onto things that don’t add to their lives. More than ever, it’s important that the promotional items and gifts your organization gives out are useful, desirable, and high quality.
Here are a few ways you can give out promotional items with a higher perceived value in 2018:
- Always start by thinking about who your recipients will be and what they might need or want.
- Choose retail-inspired promotional items with impressive features.
- Focus on packaging and presentation to make each item feel more like a gift.
- Use multi-feature products or gift sets that serve more than one purpose.
- Put strategy into your design or imprint to make it look as nice as possible.
Trend #4: Wellness products are an increasingly popular category
Many organizations today promote a healthy lifestyle—something that both employees and customers love to see. Employees like knowing that their company cares about their health and wellbeing, and promotional items are a fantastic way to demonstrate that.
In the larger landscape, health, wellness, and personal care products have seen an exponential uptick in recent years. Leverage the popularity of this market by using these health and wellness product trends as giveaways, employee rewards, and corporate gifts. Choose products that help recipients on their wellness journey, such as fitness trackers, water bottles, and even salad bowl sets to inspire healthy eating habits.
Trend #5: Materials, textures, and colors are more exciting than ever
It’s always interesting to see what new design trends for promotional products will emerge from year to year. Continuing the theme of retail inspiration, 2018 will see promotional items that are well-designed and visually appealing to match today’s product trends.
Here are the top promo product design trends for the new year:
- Cork: Cork has been increasingly popular in the interior design world, and now it’s making its way to the product side.This versatile material adds warmth and texture to any product. It’s also durable and eco-friendly, making it the perfect addition to promotional items.
- Copper: Copper is a fresh upgrade from the usual stainless steel we’ve seen for years. The warm metallic look is timeless while still looking chic.
- Wood Grain: This pattern lends an organic quality to any product, tapping into consumers’ love of all things natural and eco-friendly.
- Matte Finishes: A matte finish can lend a sleek and elevated look to almost any product, giving it a more refined look that is completely on-trend.
- Bright, Bold Colors: This year, Pantone named Ultra Violet as its 2018 Color of the Year. Pantone is well-known for influencing color trends, and this year’s choice points to an increase in bright, bold colors that make a statement.
Step outside the promotional products box in 2018! Use these trend predictions as inspiration for your next branding campaign, event giveaway, or employee gift. Experiment, mix-and-match these ideas to create the ultimate branding tool for your organization. The sky is the limit as promotional items continue evolving, so let your creativity flow.