Tag: ppai expo


10 Promotional Product Trends Defining the New Decade

Straight off the Floor of PPAI’s 2020 EXPO

Earlier this month at ASI Orlando, we got a glimpse of some buzz-worthy promotional products making their debut. This included everything from 100% recycled clothing to a sticker that tells you when it’s time to re-apply sunscreen. I mean, seriously—isn’t it so wonderful to live in the 21st century? That was the first trade show of the year, and we left Orlando pumped to see what PPAI’s 2020 show in Las Vegas had in store for us. Needless to say, it was one for the books.

2020 PPAI Expo Product Trends

We noticed a few parallels between 2019 and 2020 trends and we’re hoping this constancy may help steer brands towards the right promotional products–if it’s already making a splash in multiple spots, likely you’re onto a branded premium with serious staying power. Without further ado, here are the top ten:

1. Sustainability

Sustainability is the new wave, and vendors demonstrated incredible out-of-the-box thinking with their eco-friendly items at this year’s show.

RainAlertz Umbrella Now uses paper vs. Plastic sleeves which read "We Care"

Most notable in our minds was the change from using a plastic umbrella sleeve to a kraft paper gift sleeve on all RainAlertz ™ umbrellas. One side of the sleeve will read “We Care”. The change will be officially rolled out on all stock by February 1, 2020 and we’re thrilled to be sourcing a brand that shares our same values. #ePromosCares

Another trend everyone’s talking about? Wheat plastic. It’s made with the husk of wheat plants which is typically tossed after harvesting. People are all over this because the husk is now being recycled and refashioned into a form of plastic that is more biodegradable.

Useful items such as wheat utensil sets, are a great alternative to plastic flatware – and perfect to travel with or even leave in the office. Pair it with this 16 oz. travel mug and you’re golden.

Wheat Utensils Kit

Our 2018 and 2019 trends featured the Basecamp® brand specifically because of their efforts to give back a portion of proceeds to wounded veterans. This year, “Sustainability” and “Give-Back” seem to go hand-in-hand, as even more companies are putting an emphasis on social responsibility. One company in particular we’re digging: Miir. Mimimalistic in design, yet functional, sustainable (and gorgeous!), every Miir item comes with a unique Give Code ™ . Recipients are able to use the code to see which exact initiative – whether it be for clean-water, strong communities or healthy environments – the sale of that item helped to support.

Miir products

As your clients catch on to this widespread idea of living a more sustainable lifestyle, they’ll be searching for ways to make the transition in their own lives—and with these branded promotional products, you’ll be able to deliver.

2. Wireless Tech Does Double-Duty

Wires are so 2019. Gone are the days of untangling our headphones and tripping over our phone chargers. It seems every item in the tech world is wireless and created to perform two functions at once—and we’re so on board.

Examples? Think water bottles with built-in speakers and chargers. Mouse pads that double as chargers, with a spot for your pen, of course. And this is just the beginning. Wireless tech is it.

3. AirPod® Everything

When was the last time you saw someone pass you on the street that didn’t have an AirPod in at least one ear? Now, brands are taking advantage of this trend and capitalizing on its popularity. Imprint your logo on one of these cases or phone holders (with a spot for the pods) and you’re sure to catch the eyes of the “tech-inspired”.

Custom Airpod holders

4. Inverted Umbrellas

Inverted umbrellas

Scratching your head? Don’t. They’re the newest innovation in the rain gear sphere, and they’re now available in a pocket size version. The inverted design is wind-resistant so you can finally stop worrying about broken umbrellas on particularly windy days. How you ask? Because inverted umbrellas close away from you (as opposed to down, which you are accustomed to) so they keep all the rain inside and prevent you from getting wet.

5. Wellness & Self-Care

The wellness and self-care trends have been emerging over the last few years and now they’re making their way into the promotional product space. Now, cosmetic, athletic and health food companies have more the opportunities to reach their customers than ever before.

At ASI Orlando, we discovered the “Sunburn Alert Sticker” which, when applied with sunscreen on the body, changes color to let you know it’s time to reapply. Crazy, right?

Some additional trends in the wellness space, which were a bit more “outside the box” than traditional wellness are Blue Light Reduction Eyeglasses, which help the wearer reduce eye fatigue and blurry vision caused by staring at computer screens for oh-so-long. Also popular are lip balm and sunscreen duos, rashguards and fitness bands. Yes, please.

6. Camo Makes a Comeback

camo sweatshirt

Another huge trend that’s trickling its way into diverse product design is Camo. We’ve seen it pop up in unexpected places, such as on water bottles, coasters, stress balls, pens, and more, and not just in traditional green and brown tones—think pink, jewel or muted tones. The trend is only getting bigger, and this is a wonderful opportunity for companies to promote their business while staying on-brand.

7. Total Transparency…

Got nothing to hide? Then you’re ready for the clear bag trend, which is yet again, huge. Last year we saw an explosion of trendy clear bags to cater to the many clear bag policies at stadiums and schools. New for this year? Mesh. Some schools are now allowing students to carry these mesh see-through bags in addition to clear, which poses as a wonderful promo opportunity for brands targeting student, millennial and Gen Z audiences.

mesh and clear bags

8. All Things Travel

As the shift from valuing “things” to valuing “experiences” increases, so do all things travel when it comes to promotional gifts. Everything from travel cocktail sets to packing cubes to updated garment bags are hot this year. One brand in particular that caught our eye? Osprey®. Known for their “All Mighty” Guarantee, “Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge—whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday.”

Founded in 1974 when owner Mike Pfotenhauer began hand-sewing made-to-order backpacks for the hikers and travelers that would pass by his home in Santa Cruz, Osprey continues to provide some of the most comfortable, best-fitting backpacks out there. And now, they’re brandable. Stay tuned for more on this trend…

9. Outdoor

Koozie cooler fanny pack

Everything from blankets and flannels to hammocks and packing sets are making waves this year. Something so simple, yet sparked our interest in this category? This Koozie® Can Cooler/Fanny Pack. Not only have fanny packs come back into style recently, but this particular one takes the trend to the next level: it has an attached cooler! Hunting, fishing, tailgating, you name it. This is a winner.

10. Tie Dye and all Things Retro

The past few decades have brought on some very memorable trends, many of which are still very much alive in 2020. Tie Dye is everywhere. Scrunchies have made a comeback, as have cropped Champion® sweatshirts and the classic Puma® zip-up (an updated version is available as well!) Even old-school games like Jenga® and Corn Hole are back in trend, as 70% of millennials are reviving table top games. Fun!

Finding the right product is only half the battle. Contact us, the Promo Know-How People, to promote your brand in a meaningful way this year.

Want to see and experience more promotional product trends from the PPAI Expo? Check out our album on Facebook.

Looking for an insiders perspective on unique trends in the promo world? Follow us here.


6 Promotional Product Trends Spotted at the 2019 PPAI Expo

In a word, WOW! We just spent the week pounding the proverbial pavement at the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas. This show is, hands down, one of the premier events for the promotional product industry, where thousands of marketers, entrepreneurs, vendors and innovative industry insiders mix, mingle and unpack what’s new and next on the premium front. And this year was truly jaw-dropping, even by PPAI standards.

So the BIG question? “What’s about to burst onto the scene in 2019 and beyond?” In addition to the promotional product trends we identified at our first show in Orlando, there were a ton of truly unique, truly innovative products, each building on 2018’s most high tech, high touch, customer-first must-haves. So, regardless of your budget, your business or the message you want to share with the world, there was something at PPAI for you. Read on, then get in touch.

2019 Promotional Product Trend Takeaways

Trend #1: Branding That Goes BIG on Apparel

Branding was BIG at PPAI. While that may not sound like a surprise, this year’s vendors took branding and messaging to new heights. Whether it was a clever and unexpected placement, high impact technique or simple creative imprinting and embroidery, we saw (and applauded) it all.

One of our favorites was the Port Authority Soft Shell Custom Jacket. This clean classic offers seemingly endless branding options, all while retaining its sleek appearance.

Speaking of jackets, did you know 70% of consumers keep their promo outerwear for a year or longer and that 42% of women wear their outerwear on a weekly basis? Long gone are the days of boxy, hard t-shirts as the only option for your brand. The Port Authority Soft Shell Jacket is hot right now, and the trend is here to stay. Interested in more stats? Click here.


Trend #2: Tech Swag

No question, all things tech are big again in 2019. The difference? This year we’re seeing tech pop up in some very unexpected places. For example, Threadfast gives you the opportunity to add RFID to their shirts (wow!) A small chip is placed at the bottom and, unless you were looking, is more or less undetectable. What to do with it? Consider activating promotions as wearers pass by your store or trade show booth, go number free at an upcoming race, or simply better control your inventory. The possibilities are endless.
Threadfast shirts offer RFID capability
Bluetooth® has also been front-and-center this week. Looking for something fun and different? These UV 400 Bluetooth speaker sunglasses allow you to listen to music or take a hands-free call with a quick click. Great for fitness and outdoor brands, the top of the case has a beautiful large imprint area.

Our Bluetooth Sunglasses

Trend #3: Retail Meets Promotional

Modern. Sustainable. Efficient. Recognizable. These are some of the words to describe just some of the themes we saw across the board. One of our faves for corporate gift-giving? These compression packing cubes. You just can’t go wrong with useful items.

Our Custom Compression Packing Cubes

Another brand we’re digging? Xactly. This brand is committed to honest business at every stage in their product’s production. One of the many reasons why we are loving them. A fantastic choice to show your support for the environment and stay on-trend.







Food treats, like this Rice Krispies® jar and topping kit are also making heads turn this year. We’ve seen similar food gifts offered at Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdales. They’re simple and frill-free, but the packaging makes a bold statement.

Our Rice Crispy Treat Jar and Toppings Mix


Trend #4: Active Lifestyle Items to Get Out and About

We’ve been seeing a lot of the wilderness and “spending time outdoors” trends pop up lately. While this was certainly present at the PPAI Expo, we also saw other alternatives to “get out” – namely, some very cool, very clever promotional items ideal for an active lifestyle.

For starters, these chargers with suction cups are perfect for everything from tailgating to camping to hitting the beach – suction your charger and, ideally, your device, away from dirt, sand, BBQ sauce and anything that could be a hazard. It’s simple but totally brilliant.

Our Wireless Charger with Suction

Same goes for these speakers with removable tees. If you’re hitting the greens, you can bring along your beats and your tees, all in compact packaging that easily pops into your golf cart cup holder. Every time your clients hop in their cart, they’ll think of – and thank – YOU.

Speaker with Golf Tees

Also ideal for a beach day: custom surfboards. Sure, these are very “big ticket” items, but for the right brand and the right customers, distributing these – even to just one or two relevant recipients – will drive tons of impressions, word-of-mouth and that all-important cool factor. Don’t have the budget? Consider these beach cup holders, which stick right into the sand, keeping your drink nice and clean. So simple, yet so practical and genius that everyone will wish they came up with the idea themselves.

Go big with custom surfboards or budget friendly with beach cup holders

Trend #5: Upscale Wine Accessories

We just couldn’t resist these upscale wine accessories, which seem to be getting more high-tech and more sophisticated by the year. To compliment our top selling insulated wine tumbler, consider this Aviana™ Chateau Double Wall Stainless Wine Bottle Cooler or perhaps this temperature sensor, which tells you the current temperature of the wine.

Luxury Wine Accessories

Trend #6: Classic Creativity Gets a Nod

And, of course, there’s the classic trend: amazing creativity. This year, “thumbs up” goes to these blood bags – yes, blood bags. Each proudly announces the “color” that a recipient bleeds – open the bag and pull out a matching t-shirt for their favorite sports team.

Bleed Bags with Custom T-shirt Inside

Whether it’s Dodgers® blue or Rockies™ purple or Cincinnati’s big, bold red, the choice is yours – or your customer’s. But either way, this one is going to turn a lot of heads and generate a lot of buzz. #WhatColorDoYouBleed, anyone?


Want to see and experience more promotional product trends from the PPAI Expo? Check out our album on Facebook, and while you’re at it, follow us on Twitter, Instagram, Linked In and Pinterest to stay up-to-date with what we’re promoting.

Looking for more trends? Don’t miss our First Look at the Top Promotional Trends of 2019.

  1. Source: Advertising Specialty Institute, 2019 Global Ad Impressions Study.