Promotional Branding Trends – the Moving Direction of 2017

Promotional Technology Products

Each year our largest industry trade show occurs in January – the PPAI Expo. As usual, we came back to our office with armfuls of new information about products and trends to help our clients achieve promotional branding excellence.  Yet this year, some apparent shifts in our industry were obvious and they’re important for promotional branding tactics in 2017.

Of course, many of the promotional product trends of 2016 were still highlighted this year, like the demand for technology-related or environmentally friendly promotional products.  As we in our 30s and 40s walked the show floor, it occurred to us the vast impact that Millennials are having on our industry, impacting product popularity and style.  Millennials themselves have cited technology & technological items as the most defining characteristic of their generation; they are tech savvy, diverse, connected and socially involved. Forbes reports that one in three employees in the U.S. are the Millennial generation and by 2025, 75% of the workforce will be these savvy individuals.

So what does that say to us as we move into Q2 of 2017?

We need a younger representation of professionals in this industry. It’s painful to admit, but it’s true.  Most of the vendors and distributors that we saw are older, and not meeting the needs of millennial clients by giving out cheaper items that don’t last long and items that millennials don’t actually want.  At PromoCentric, we have made a point of bringing in some fresh Millennial blood into our employee mix – who can stay on top of relevant trends and speak to their own growing generation of business needs.  Some of the trends that we know, and they’ve verified are:

Trend #1: Technology continues to be ever-growing and ever-evolving

Technology related items are the fastest-growing category of promotional products.  It’s not hard to know why this is happening – 87% of millennials use between two and three tech devices at least once on a daily basis and that influence has also spread to their older peers!  In fact, the usefulness of a promotional product is the recipient’s number one reason for keeping it, according to the Advertising Specialty Institute. Giving away a useful technology product not only ensures that the recipient will be pleased with your brand – it also indicates that the product has a high potential for generating brand exposure.

Another reason for the resurgence of this trend is the constantly growing use of and capabilities of the cellphone. 95% of Americans own some kind of a cellphone; 77% of them being smartphones (Pew Research Center).  The statistics for Millennials are higher – 99% on average have a phone – crazy! There are many tech products that have the option to be branded that will make your clients’ life and job easier and staying connected effortless.

Trend #2: Cheap is Out – Value is In

If your company uses cheap promotional products – even for trade shows – here’s something you might not want to hear – recipients correlate the quality of the product to the quality of the company handing them out.  People want a quality item that they’ll actually use, so cheap items just don’t cut it.  Unsurprisingly, giving out cheap items says that your company didn’t put much time and effort into gifts for their clients, prospects or employees. Higher value and custom items have proven to be more effective for retaining quality leads.

Trend #3: Trade Show ROI – HUH?

Trade shows can be one of the most efficient ways to spend your resources because they consolidate multiple marketing goals into one campaign. However, it can be a significant investment of both money and time, both of which are valuable resources for any business.  Being able to determine and prove ROI from qualified lead generation is critical for your team! 

Handing out inexpensive, useful items is important for generating brand recognition, but attracting qualified leads with higher priced gifts is even more important.  A great way to attract quality leads to your trade show booth is by utilizing your higher-quality items as part of your booth display, but first giving them a more inexpensive item to start a conversation. You can then explain that in order to receive the higher quality item, they must provide credible information to make for a quality lead, like name, company, and contact information.

Trend #4: Apparel Styles are shifting

Everyone is familiar with traditional corporate apparel such as polos and dress shirts. Employee uniforms are key to maintaining brand consistency, but most employees are not going to wear company branded dress shirts anywhere but the workplace.

Giving employees and clients fun apparel that they’ll want to wear outside of the office is a promotional marketing trend of 2017. The goal is to have recipients of your logoed apparel want to wear your branded clothing all the time – not just at work. This can be done by incorporating a cool graphic onto an apparel item like t-shirts or pullovers instead of just your company’s logo. Also, the demand for style and quality extends here.  Recipients want the best of the best: this means smart materials for performance logo apparel, higher quality materials, name brands and modern style.

Trend #5: Retail inspired designs/brands

Companies looking for promotional products are increasingly requesting name brand products to advertise their business.  Again, a quality branded item reflect WHO you ARE and your recipient views it in that manner.   Millennials and Gen Xers are especially attracted to these types of promotional items because they are recognizable brands that have immense social value.

And this means…?

What does this mean?  Trends can be overwhelming, but view them as an opportunity.  Review what you have. Review what you need. Talk to your employees about what they want, as well as what they hear your customers want.  The information about what branding items reflect your brand the best is within your own company.  We can always help foster and glean this information. Promotional Branding is our world – even if it’s always changing!

PromoCentric Headwear Catalog CTA