Earlier this month, we attended the 2018 Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Expo. The PPAI Expo is North America’s largest promotional products trade show and was the perfect place to get a sneak peek at the 2018 trends in promotional products.
Here are four trends that caught our eye at this year’s expo:
Cork isn’t just for coasters and wine anymore, it’s seemingly everywhere these days and the promotional products industry is no different. There are the products where one would expect it to show up like drink ware, pencil pouches, journals, and pens. However, the sky is really the limit with cork. For instance, check out this tote and this baseball cap!
Heathering is the process of interweaving yarns of different shades of the same color to produce an alternate color. This creates a distinct, textured look in apparel. While this can be done with any color, gray is by far the most popular color. It’s been extremely popular in apparel for the past couple of years, but it’s now expanding into products like hats and bags. A trend within a trend that we saw at this year’s PPAI Expo was combining a heathered gray base with bright colors on the trim.
Qi wireless charging has been a feature in Samsung and LG phones for a few years now, but without Apple supporting the feature, wireless chargers hadn’t really caught on in the industry. However, with Apple’s iPhone 8 and X now supporting the feature, wireless chargers have started to become a popular item within the promotional products industry and it shows with the variety of designs.
Powder Coat Finish
A powder coat finish provides a soft matte look and unique texture on drink ware and was everywhere at this year’s PPAI Expo. The finish allows your branding to pop out more because it absorbs light instead of reflecting it like more glossy finishes. Customers love powder coating because it’s a durable finish that shows less wear and tear and can take a beating. It also provides a unique feel that can’t be found in other finishes.
More from PPAI 2018
If you’re interested in what products we loved at the PPAI Expo, check out three blogs for each day of the show:
First on our list is the PopSocket. We’re seeing a lot of in-hand phone holders pop up (no pun intended) and knew the PopSocket had to be on our list. Just stick it to the back of almost any mobile device to transform your phone. PopSockets “pop” whenever you need a grip, a stand, or an earbud-management system. We love these so much, Katie our Account Manager and Danielle our Marketing Manager currently have them on the back of their phones!
With a large imprint area and many color combinations, PopSockets makes the perfect gift for students, admitted events, welcome packs, and more!
It’s time to upgrade your poncho’s! We know you’ve seen poncho’s before, but never ones like these. Tough, heavy-duty, adult PVC Poncho with roomy hood is exactly what we’ve been waiting for!
The quality and retail-like appearance makes these poncho’s a go-to for games, event outings, welcome packs, and alumni! 11 rich color options, front and back imprint areas, and snap closures creates a unique poncho that will be kept and reused for many events and years to come!
3. Custom Packaging
With the New Year comes a great way to customize your items even further. Now you can combine the power of promotional products with personalized packaging! Imagine taking a pair of promotional sunglasses and putting them in an individualized custom box. Custom packaging turns a gift into a true brand advocate, strengthening brand recognition, and adding perceived value! It’s also a great way to include more information to a promotional gift!
Add organization to admitted events, alumni gatherings, and recognition ceremonies with custom boxes, sleeves, bindings, and more! With a retail-look, low prices, and low quantities custom packaging helps take your gifts to the next level.
This 100% ring spun cotton tee is a softer, lighter, and more high end style of cotton that gives this a perfectly relaxed feel. Coming in sizes S-6XL the Fan Favorite Tee features that heathered appearance that’s on our Top Trends list of 2016. Not to mention, this tee already comes in 31 genuine Collegiate and Professional Sports Team colors!
These tees are the premiere choice for volunteer days, admissions, and alumni events! The Fan Favorite is the perfect lived-in tee that’s sure to be worn again and again.
Time to liven up your direct mailers by adding a custom tattoo or scratch-off! Choose from their hundreds of stock designs or create your own. Available in the classic temporary, PrismFoil Metallic, Glow-in-the-Dark, Glitter, or Tear-Off.
Temporary tattoos and scratch off’s are an interactive way for students to show their support at admitted events, sports outings, welcome week, and more!
Nothing’s more relevant than emoji’s right now. Emoji’s are so popular 2015’s Word of the Year was “ ” We’re staying on trend with these new Emoji stress balls! All of our
favorite emoji’s made the cut: Yikes, ILY, Wink Wink, Happy Face, and LOL.
Emoji stress balls delight at admitted events, in Finals Survival Kits, and at departmental giveaways. If you’re looking for
something on trend that student’s will not only recognize, appreciate, and keep then these are the ones for you!
Bring brand recognition to students and faculties everyday lives with the all new Micro-USB to USB Cables. Phones aren’t leaving our hands anytime soon and unfortunately in 2016 our phones still need to be charged. Why not add your brand to an everyday much needed item? One of a kind, full-color, photo-quality imprinted cables highlights their precision, color, and high-definition detail on both sides. Compatible with all micro-USB ports including Apple®.
This charging cord will stand out from the crowd and be the ultra-modern promotional gift that you’ll be thanked for! Great for admitted events, welcome gifts, alumni events, and more!
Being eco-friendly is always a positive that’s why we added plantable paper to our top 10 list! Good old fashion paper can be replaced with all-natural seed paper to create endless promotional products!
Bookmarks, coasters, coupons, postcards, greeting cards, letters, business cards , event invitations, and more! Adding eco-friendly materials to an everyday item creates memorability and helps our planet stay green!
This is the perfect way for your students to show their support and school colors! The vinyl ultra-removable keyboard sticker offers brilliant digital color and durable material.
These are a fun and interactive item that we’re excited to feature this year! Individualize your departments by adding a custom keyboard sticker to computers or hand them out at admitted events!
Did you ever think a published book could be a promotional product? Well now it can be! This unique product actually allows you to customize published books on the market. Everything from the Giving Tree to The College Dorm Survival Guide is available for customization. Modifications like a cover imprint, a page insert, a full color wrap, and custom book jacket are all possible with The Book Company.
First of all, this is just cool! Have you ever seen anything like it? Books make incredible promotional items because books are kept, read, shared, and even displayed; never thrown away! We love the idea of books for welcome packs, scholarship events, recognition events, and even giveaways.
Are you looking for ways to make your logo standout on a coffee mug, water bottle, or glass? Check out these creative imprints to make a statement!
The interior portion of a glass or clear piece can be looked at through a reverse view, as shown in the UCLA glass above. We take the logo and provide a reflective image. Both logos are on one side of the piece, so you aren’t having to cancel out logos in two different locations. The UCLA blue logo is viewed across the opposite side of the glass in the left most part of the image.
Tone on Tone Wrap Print
The wrap goes around the piece almost completely with a retail branding of a glossy finish on a matte piece. There will be a small gap, instead of it being a full 360 degree wrap. The gap allows you to place your logo vertically. In this form of design you can take an emblem/crest/part of the logo for the wrap as you can see in the LinkedIn sample. If there is something unique to the company, such as a tire tread, an arch, or just wording of what a company offers, it can be wrapped around the bottle for emphasis, as in the Yokohoma picture.
This decoration allows a shiny contrast in a two color design or highlights a logo beautifully. If you want to add a sheen to a logo for vibrancy, then glitz print will be the perfect choice. The sample above has a beautiful, glittery effect!
One of our Projects
One design client of ours loves the matte black finish on their coffee mugs. Here’s an image of one mug that we recently created:
They sell these mugs on their online store with a choice of the tone on tone imprint or white & red imprint on matte black. Now if that doesn’t make a statement, then I don’t know what does! What is your favorite imprint method?
For More Information
There are multiple water bottles, travel mugs, ceramic mugs in a variety of finish types. A few that we like include:
Need a specific idea? Just let us know what you’re looking for, and we’ll present options for you to review.
In one of our most popular posts, Top New Promotional Products for Colleges, we shared a few desk-related promotional ideas that could be given to high school counselors. Note pads, stone coasters, tech-stickers, pennants, and phone holders are just a few ideas that we include in our High School Counselors Showroom. To keep on trend with new products in the industry, we wanted to spotlight a tech-related idea that high school counselors would find useful and fun.
Discover the Wedge Mobile Device Stand
The Wedge™ Mobile Device Stand is a fully customizable, colorful desk item that also can be used as a screen cleaner. With 81% of all promotional products being kept because of usefulness, the Wedge will showcase your brand in a high-visibility work area for a long time.
Artwork is printed on a single piece of fabric, offering a fully custom imprint area with full color dye sublimation for vibrant graphics. The base of the Wedge is available in standard grey or black, though other special edition colors are now available for an extra punch of color. An antimicrobial coating prevents the buildup of mold, mildew, and odors. The fabric is 100% microfiber. It’s extremely soft and the entire item has a bean-bag like feel, so it’s easy to hold onto when cleaning a screen. The Wedge is handmade in the USA. Here’s a picture of the phone stand in use.
We recommend imprinting your brand name on the rounded, rectangle shape that is readily visible when the phone is in place for maximum exposure. In testing it out in our office, the Wedge held my phone at a comfortable angle, so it was both easy to read and touch the screen without sliding around my desk. Numerous colleagues are using the Wedge on their own desks because it’s such a functional and fun product. It’s bound to be appreciated and will help keep your school top of mind with school counselors or other referral sources.
Related Blog Posts and Resources:
One thing that is true of the promotional products industry is there are literally THOUSANDS of products! It’s easy to search and search for the perfect idea with so many choices, which can get a bit overwhelming.
That’s where we come in. We sort through the latest ideas for 2015 and organize them into categories to make it easier for you to find what applies to your school and organization. We did just this with our notes and pictures from the PPAI Expo to highlight several trends and top promotional ideas for admissions departments.
New Ideas for Admissions
Starting at the top left, we’ll discuss how each promotional idea relates to admissions marketing.
- Custom Imprinted Box – 3D direct mail really makes a statement. We’ve seen some creative admissions acceptance mailings, and we think a custom imprinted box would be a fun way to say, “You’re IN!” For a smaller sized mailing, we especially like the Greeting Cube, which can be imprinted on both the inside and outside of the box. A higher value mailing could also be used to target specific student populations at various stages of the enrollment funnel. According to the Direct Marketing Association, 3D mailings receive a 250% better response rate than standard mail, so it’s a great way to keep prospective students engaged with your school. For more direct mail ideas, see our Direct Mail Showroom.
- Mini Polaroid Camera – as we talked about in Help Students Picture Their Future at your School, a Polaroid camera would be a fun way to instantly provide a picture to a prospective student visiting campus.
- Tech Tattoos – These ultra removable decals are an inexpensive, safe and easy way to personalize electronic gadgets. The stickers are designed for laptops, tablets, e-readers, cell phones, music players, game consoles, and more. People love to show school spirit on their devices, making these tech tattoos ideal for prospective students (either in a direct mail piece with information or an event handout). We also would recommend custom sticker sheets, such as the ones Wartburg College created with us.
- Luggage Tag – These high quality, embroidered luggage tags are a favorite idea for admitted students. It could easily be used in a get ready to “pack your bags” and come to our school themed event or mailing.
- Custom Pen Holder – Do you have a landmark on campus that would make a fun, custom pen holder? This is a unique idea for high school couselors. There are so many options – check out the catalog here. Desk items are a gold standard among promotional products, meaning your brand gains more exposure when its displayed on a desk.
- DigiClean Mailer – We’ve written about the DigiClean many times (NACAC Top Products, DigiClean Testimonials, as one of our most popular tech screen cleaning promotional items. DigiClean products come affixed to a direct mail card, so additional school information can be promoted on a larger space than the DigiClean itself. DigiClean and DigiGrip are items that literally “stick around” and resonate with tech-savvy prospective students. Click here for a link to the DigiClean Showroom.
Which items are you most interested in for your school or college? Let us know if you’ve seen any unique promotional products that colleges are using in the comments below.
Looking for more product ideas? See our Top New Promotional Products for Colleges blog post.
While attending the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, some clear trends emerged after walking through the show floor. One interesting trend in drinkware (as featured in 2015 New Products for Business and photo highlights) was the growler. The increasing popularity of craft breweries and home brewing has helped the growler emerge as a popular vessel for beverages. Many brewpubs and breweries will sell growlers, which is typically a 64 oz container, or howlers, which is a half-growler or 32 ounces. It’s an ideal way to bring home fresh beer!
Recognizing this popularity, the promotional products industry displayed a wide array of insulators, carrying cases, and 32 – 64 ounce beverage containers. Here were a few images of what we saw. Click on the image for a link to product details.
Growler-related promotional items are perfect for brewpubs, breweries, restaurants or bars. Since this is a relatively new product category, customers will certainly appreciate the unique, novel appeal of these items.
Here’s a snapshot of a wide range of drinkware trends we saw this year.
For more information about trends in drinkware or other new for 2015 promotional items, give us a call at 414-831-0184.
Links to product information:
Our office loved getting a sample of a recent sticker sheet we ran for Wartburg College.
Isn’t it pretty?
We have talked about stickers and decals before (see our Decal Buying Guide), and we think this is such a fun, low-cost promotional item for schools and colleges. When ordering a quantity of 5,000, the price is $0.20 each! Increase to 10,000 and the price goes down to $0.13 each.
Currently Wartburg is using these sticker sheets in deposited student mailings.
Stickers are also ideal for state fairs, college fairs, open house events, and college readiness programs at area K-12 schools.
Students and kids alike would appreciate a variety of stickers to promote your school.
Similar to a custom sticker sheet, another new product that we highlighted in 2015 Top New Promotional Products for Colleges is a sheet of Tech Tattoos. Specifically designed to adhere to laptops, phones, tablets and more, these vinyl decals will remove without leaving behind the adhesive. This would be a great product to use in alumni mailings, where a higher quality decal may better target the intended audience.
More Direct Mail Ideas
In addition to custom sticker sheets and Tech Tattoos, we have a showroom full of direct mail ideas. Check out the Direct Mail Premium Showroom for inspiration.
What do you think of the sticker sheets? What is your favorite item to receive as part of a direct mail piece?