This year at PPAI Expo Las Vegas, the world’s biggest print advertising and promotional product tradeshow, we saw 3 major trends continue to grow and flourish within the marketing industry:
- Retail Influences
- Full Customization / Sublimated Materials
Sustainability – What does this mean in the promo world?
Every year we’re seeing the promo product industry step further away from quickly trashed plastic knick-knacks — products that the industry is now referring to as “Brandfill” because it’s tossed into the garbage almost as soon as it’s handed out. While those products are still widely available and likely always will be, the last couple of years we’ve seen an influx of more sustainable promotional product options than ever before. This includes products that contain or are made entirely of recycled or sustainable materials (RPET, wheat, bamboo, etc.), products with reduced or zero carbon emissions, and products that support giveback initiatives to environmental and humanitarian charities.
Industry experts at the show this year confirmed that now more than ever, end-users are showing a strong preference for products that create a positive impact on the planet.
Here are just a few of our favorite sustainable brands that we spoke with this year:
Looking to spruce up your corporate gift this year? Why not try a branded house plant? Lively Root ships out beautiful, healthy houseplants with engraved pots, branded plant sticks, and/or personal message cards. There is no minimum order so these make for a great one-time gift or on-demand gifting program. Purchases also help support global reforestation through the Arbor Day Foundation.
Nimble’s goal is simple: Make world class personal tech products with the smallest environmental burden possible. To achieve this goal, they reuse waste and utilize renewable materials to deliver electronic products with top notch durability and reliability. Not only is Nimble a Certified B-Corporation that is Certified Carbon Neutral and a member of 1% for the Planet, but they also provide a biodegradable bag with every product sold so you can recycle any electronics you no longer use for FREE to help close the loop on electronic waste. As of the writing of this article, Nimble is already responsible for diverting over 307,000 pounds of waste from landfills and aquatic ecosystems.
As the name suggests, Woodchuck manufactures technology-driven wood products right here in the US and specializes in customization. Their Buy One, Plant One program promises to plant one tree for every product sold. In fact, every product comes with a card with a unique serial number on it so you can find your tree and see where it is planted through their website! So far, they have planted millions of trees on 6 different continents, with a pledge to plant 15 million by 2030.
Also Certified Carbon Neutral and members of 1% for the Planet, Nomadix makes premium woven towels, blankets, and ponchos out of post-consumer recycled materials. Their sustainable fabrics are super soft and absorbent, quick-drying, durable and sand-repellent.
This company takes sustainability and ethical sourcing to the next level by connecting its growing syndicate of over 250 makers in more than 50 countries with the promotional industry, which helps promote economic independence and empower the communities where the products are sourced. Using their TRACE vetting system, To The Market evaluates their manufacturer’s social, environmental, and operational practices to ensure that your custom product needs will be met with a socially responsible solution.
Retail Influences – Put Your Brand on Trusted Brands
You may have already recognized some of the brands listed above if you’ve seen them at a local retail store. Lively Root, Nimble, Woodchuck, and Nomadix are all brands that started in the retail space before coming to the promo world and many other brands are realizing the audience they can reach by offering customizable branded options.
Below are a few other awesome brands that have recently made their way into the promo space; we think they’d make a great canvas to display your logo!
As featured on Shark Tank, Kanga Coolers have their signature Kase Mate cooler, which is an insulated cooler case that is built to hold cases of canned beverages. They have stock sizes for 12-pack, 24-pack, and 30-pack cases and also have a line of standard cooler bags. These cooler bags are a fun and unique product that offers a huge area to decorate with your branding.
Ember is the world’s first temperature controlled mug. The sensors in these mugs can detect liquid and temperature to keep your beverages the perfect temperature from the moment it is poured until the last drop, all controlled by your smartphone through their app.
Pack Animal creates heritage-quality waxed canvas packs and accessories in traditional styles with all the convenient features you’ve come to expect. These bags are made of high quality materials and made to last with the perfect blend of old school style and new school features you really want.
This company was founded to bring the flow back in the work. Their first product was a balance board for use at standing desks to keep people moving while they work. The boards were meticulously designed to be comfortable for extended use and then tested by the Mayo Clinic, Heeluxe Lab, and several universities to show the benefits of using the balance boards as compared to sitting including increased energy expenditure, heart rate, range of motion, and task execution. They have also released an anti-fatigue mat and a line of desk items that are made to improve the ergonomics of your deskspace and reduce clutter.
Sublimation & Fully Custom Products
Sublimation is a printing technique that involves heating a printed design so the ink is turned into gas, permanently embeddeding the design into the fabric or substrate, rather than the ink laying on top of a substrate as it does in traditional print techniques. Sublimation printing allows for designs to be printed vibrantly and over the full surface area of a product, so it is a perfect solution for fully custom products including apparel, bags, pillows, towels, and more. Here are some awesome examples of sublimated and fully custom products that we saw at the show.
Want to make a big impression with an edible treat, look no further than More Than Chocolate. This chocolate company uses white chocolate ink to print on dark or milk chocolates that can be attached to business cards and greeting cards or sent in gift boxes. Your brand will be sure to stand out and leave a lasting memory when people see and taste this chocolate.
Dirty Cookie offers cookies molded into shot glasses so you can treat your guests to shots of coffee, milk, or Bailey’s in a delicious edible shot glass. Sold in single and multi-packs, this unique treat is a great way to get tradeshow attendees to check out your booth and not forget about you. Their stuffed cookies are also to die for — individually wrapped with a custom-logo sticker, we taste-tested these ourselves at the show and 10/10 recommend them!
Wooly Made is a manufacturer of premium small goods handmade in Portland, Oregon. Their products include leather wallets, keychains, coasters and other leather accessories. They also have a line of wallets that is made from their sustainable vegan leather, MIRUM, which is made up of coconut fibers and natural rubber, making it 100% plastic free. These products are either embossed or laser engraved and have no minimums, making them a great personalized gift