This year’s PPAI Expo in Las Vegas was, as usual, a whirlwind, and seeking out the promotional products trends for 2015 was no small task. Between helping with the OutboundEngine booth, talking to suppliers and seeing as many products as humanly possible in the span of just three days, I had a lot to take in last week.
As the promotional products industry specialist for OutboundEngine, it’s important for me to stay on top of the industry’s latest and greatest to make sure our automated email marketing content stays ahead of the curve. So while I racked up the steps on my Google Fit app, I made sure to jot down any interesting trends in products, design or supplier behavior.
Here are some of the highlights.
Breakout product of 2015: the selfie stick.
If you haven’t heard of selfie sticks, they’re those telescoping wands with phone holders at the end of them that allow you to take selfies that don’t look like selfies, i.e. without that pesky arm in the frame. They come in Bluetooth and non-Bluetooth models, and seemingly every major supplier is offering one this year (sometimes calling them “monopods,” but come on… we know what they’re really for).
If you can get over looking slightly ridiculous, a selfie stick is a great way to get everyone in your group into a single photo. For the promo market, this product is a versatile option for a lot of audiences and customer budgets, and they work with any brand of smartphone. Speaking of working with any phone…
Universal compatibility is taking over.
The days of Apple’s unchallenged dominance in the smartphone and tablet markets are long over, and this year’s product trends reflect that more than ever. From adhesive-free phone wallets that stretch to fit any size device (even a huge Galaxy Note) to power banks, cases and e-padfolios with adapters for both Apple and Android devices, 2015 is all about tech accessories that work with whatever the end recipient has in their pocket.
But it’s ALSO a power bank!
Remember when practically every promotional tech product doubled as a USB flash drive? Now that cloud storage has become so cheap and universal, the USB drive is no longer ubiquitous, but never fear–power banks are here to replace them as the default add-on feature for speakers, phone stands and stylus pens.
It slices! It dices! It charges your iPad in under an hour! Whether this represents feature creep or a useful combination of functions remains to be seen, but the race is on to satisfy end users’ hunger for more power when and wherever they need it.
The bar gets an upgrade.
While tech certainly wins the day, trend-wise, suppliers aren’t slouching in the drinkware department either. This year’s coolest trends come from the craft beer and cocktail world; insulated beer growlers and those gorgeous, coppery Moscow mule mugs have officially gone mainstream.
There’s even a growler-sized version of the traditional can cooler we all know and love.
Several suppliers are also offering “teardrop” style glasses, an elegant silhouette reminiscent of a stemless wine glass. And the well-established mason jar trend is stronger than ever, expanding into the bar area with new options like this teensy mason jar shot glass.
Design leans toward the geometric.
Taking a cue from the fashion industry, this year suppliers are making geometric and fashion-forward patterns a staple part of their lines. Many suppliers are offering translucent double-walled tumblers and bottles with a geometric pattern on the interior, giving them a really interesting shattered look.
Suppliers are doubling down.
I spoke to at least five supplier reps who said that rather than expanding their lines into new categories or styles this year, they decided to focus on supporting their current bestsellers. Some added color and feature options to existing products, some combined customer favorites into bundles, and others said they were just doing a better job keeping inventory levels up with demand.
But a few hard goods suppliers are bucking this trend in a big way by expanding not only into apparel, but into one-stop apparel decoration. Polyconcept made a splash with this last year, and in 2015 more suppliers are following suit, including Hit Promotional Products and Sweda.
So much to see, never enough time.
As any PPAI Vegas veteran could tell you, there’s just way too much going on at the event to cover in a single blog post, so this was merely a sampling of what I found. What promotional products trends for 2015 did you notice at PPAI Vegas this year? Let us know in the comments!