2018 Trends in the Promotional Products Industry

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

Wireless Charging

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. 

Want to know how you can capitalize on one, or all, of these trends? Contact your account manager, send us an email, give us a call at 414-831-0184, or fill out our contact form today!

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:

We’re at the PPAI expo!

The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) yearly expo begins today in Las Vegas and we’re there! The PPAI Expo is North America’s largest promotional products trade show and features more than 1,200 exhibitors showcasing more than a quarter million products over six miles of show floor. Later this week we’ll report back with what we loved and, more importantly, what we think you’ll love.

Want us to look for something in particular for you? Just let us know! Email an Account Manager, and we’ll keep our eyes peeled while we’re walking the show floor.

While you’re waiting to see what we find this year, check out what we loved last year!

2016 PPAI Expo

2016 PPAI Expo 


The Magellan Promotions team just came back from this year’s annual PPAI Expo!  Michael, Danielle, and Katie came back with a ton of great, innovative, and unique ideas for our clients and we look forward to sharing them with you!

The 2016 PPAI Expo kicked off last week with over 11,000 distributors in attendance. This was PPAI’s 14th year hosting at the nearly one million square foot Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada. With 1,300 exhibiting companies and over 3,000 booths it’s clear to see why the show now occupies the convention center’s new $66 million 2 hall expansion.

It was a massive show and the team here at Magellan Promotions made it our goal, as it is every year, to see every single booth on the floor  to ensure we had fresh ideas for our clients as 2016 unfolds!

We truly returned with a ton of great, innovative, and unique ideas and trends for our clients this year and we can’t wait to share them with you!


New Promo Products of 2015 – Photo Highlights

Michael Wolaver and Pat Conley descended upon Las Vegas earlier this month to attend the PPAI Expo.  While we compile and organize a few top 10 lists of new promotional products we love, we wanted to share some photo highlights from their trip.

bright colors, office and kitchen swag

Bright colors, office & kitchen items

From top left:

  • Fun, new shimmer ink imprint on cloth bags.
  • Bright colored trucker hats
  • Reflective safety bands
  • Fluorescent desk accessories
  • Trivet or Growler coaster
  • Collapsible measuring cups
  • Pizza cutter and server
So many drinkware options

So many drinkware options

From top left:

  • Extra large fruit basket infuser
  • Stainless steel and matte black travel mug
  • Snacker – holds a snack on top of your drink
  • Colorful tumblers
  • A way to “spritz” yourself to cool off
  • Growler insulator / cooler
  • Juicer bottle
  • Mugs with flocked imprint
Technology related items

Technology related items

From top left:

  • Tech Tattoos – decals
  • LokSak Waterproof bag for your phone
  • Tablet stand and holder that rotates landscape to letter orietation
  • Full color phone holders
  • Bluetooth headphones
  • Device chargers
  • Elastik phone cases
  • Cell Mate phone wallet and stand
  • Cleaning kit
Team spirit ideas

Team spirit ideas, Pat Conley showing off #1 Hand

From top left:

  • Fun spirit socks
  • Chrome domes large signs
  • Techno Skinz Decals for laptops and other devices
  • Poms with imprinted handle
  • #1 Ultimate Hand

Which pictures and products stand out most? Here was our top new promo products post from 2014.  Stay tuned for the 2015 lists!

Promotional Products Industry – Best Year Ever!

Building upon the success of last year, U.S. Distributors of promotional products had another great year.

2013 sales volume results were up 7.2% to reach $19.8 billion – the best year ever!

This broke the 2007 record of $19.4 billion.

These results were part of an annual estimate of distributor sales sponsored by Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) and conducted by Relevant Insights, LLC.  The study indicated that 6 in 10 of distributors surveyed experienced year over year sales growth.  Almost 7 in 10 of those surveyed anticipate that 2014 will be even stronger than 2013.

Top product categories remained similar from 2012 to 2013 with wearables, or apparel taking the largest share at 28% followed by writing instruments, bags, drinkware, recognition / awards, desk items, and computer accessories.

2013 Promotional Product Industry Sales by Product Category

2013 Promotional Product Industry Sales by Category; SOURCE: PPAI 2013 Estimate of Promotional Products Distributor Sales


Top Uses of Promotional Products

The program types that use promotional items in order of popularity include:

  1. Business Gifts
  2. Brand Awareness
  3. Trade Shows
  4. Employee Relations & Events
  5. New Customer / Account Generation
  6. Not-for-Profit Programs
  7. Public Relations
  8. Employee Service Awards
  9. Dealer / Distributor Programs
  10. Internal Promotions
  11. New Product or Service Introductions
  12. Safety Education
  13. Customer Referral
  14. Marketing Research
  15. Other

Strong Surge in 2013 Sales

Following the industry’s upward trend, Magellan Promotions outperformed the industry’s pace of 7.2% growth, by growing our business 32% over 2012. This growth pattern continues in 2014 as we have surpassed all-time sales records.

“We were thrilled with our record-setting year in 2013 and are on pace to top that in 2014,” said Michael Wolaver.  He credits world class customer service and discovering the right ideas as key drivers for continued success through the years, adding, “We are consistently being complimented on our service and how easy it is to work with us. This has been our goal from day one.”

Such growth has paved the way for building our sales team, as we will be adding a business development role to focus on more outreach to our current and prospective clients.

The industry and company results truly are proof of the power of promotional products as an effective and appreciated advertising medium.

Promotional Products Work

Want to learn more about the year-end numbers for the promotional products industry? Read the 2013 Sales Volume Fact Sheet from PPAI.

Research: How Promotional Products Work

We recently had a question in the Twitter-sphere about the effectiveness of promotional products.  More bluntly put, the Tweep was asking if promotional items are just thrown away.

How long are promotional items kept?

Michael Wolaver directed her to our Promotional Products Work webpage, where you can read industry research and watch brief videos.

The answer to the question above:

47% of consumers KEEP promotional items for ONE YEAR or longer!

Compared to other media, promotional products have a relatively low cost and provide repeated exposure to a message, since items are kept for so long.

53% of consumers use promotional items ONCE a WEEK or more!

Promotional Products Work

When targeting students, it is important to select an item that is relevant to the student, while still being brand related to help your college stand out. This will only increase the likelihood of the student keeping, using, and recalling your message. Students LOVE receiving items (83% of people do), and they WILL talk about it with their peers on social media.  A simple t-shirt, bag, or pennant, for example, could have an even greater exposure when a student takes a picture and shares it online on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. As a result, students sharing their excitement and enthusiasm for your school with their peer group becomes free advertising!

Learn more about the following on Promotional Products Work, including video comparisons to other media and generating the desired response.

For ideas on how to effectively incorporate promotional items into your existing marketing and recruitment plans, contact us today at 414-831-0184 for a complimentary consultation.