Industry Insight

Check out the Hottest New Promotional Products Straight from the 2016 PPAI Expo

You know what we love here at Quality Logo Products®? New promotional items. We get really excited about them. We love to talk about them. So we went to the PPAI Expo last month to scout out what’s coming down the promo product pipeline!

Promotional Products Association International (PPAI for short) is one of the main trade organizations in the promotional merchandise industry. Every year in January they host the PPAI Expo in Las Vegas, Nevada. The PPAI Expo is the largest promo item tradeshow in North America.

This expo is our version of San Diego Comic Con. Thousands of industry professionals attend to show off their new products, network, and listen to guest speakers. A handful of us from Quality Logo Products® went to attend the Awards Presentation & Reception Tuesday night (by the way, we crushed it), but during the day we wandered the show floor looking for the best and coolest new products to share with all of you.

So what’s going to be the next big thing in 2016? Check out our video below!

In general, the trend for 2016 seems to be about stepping up your game. Bags, fitness trackers, water bottles – everything was explained as being better than ever and being able to do more things than ever before. Customers want more options, more selection, and more functionality in their products, so the industry responded.

Hip and Healthy Drinkware

drinkware ppai expo 2016

The first thing we noticed at the PPAI Expo? All the new drinkware. It looks like the Mason jar trend is slowing, and high tech or multi-purpose cups, bottles, and flasks are all the rage.

As you saw in the video we have tumblers with eye-catching designs that come in all sorts of shapes and hold varying liquid quantities. We particularly loved one that has a bottom that you can unscrew for ice. Even though dual wall tumblers are pretty good for keeping your drinks cold, a little ice will definitely help.

It depends on who you ask, but overall it’s agreed that America as a nation is trying to eat a little healthier. And that extends to our drinks, too. Drinkware that can shake up protein powder and/or have spaces to hold supplements is going to be handy for people on the go, especially if they’re going to a gym or fitness center.

And if you really want to go nuts in terms of multi-purpose drinkware, there’s the Zoom Audio Flask. The flask was getting a lot of buzz at the show and we can’t help but feel proud that we were talking about this tumbler-meets-Bluetooth speaker-meets-phone stand a few months ago.

And you know, speaking of Bluetooth speakers…

Bluetooth Products Grow Up

bluetooth ppai expo 2016

Tech has exploded over the past few years, and judging from all the Bluetooth speakers we saw at the PPAI Expo, there’s no slowing down.

Have a hankering to put your logo on a speaker so you can crank your Jason Derulo around the house or office? You can have your pick of speakers that detach from main units, speakers that come with their own fun light system, and speakers that float.

Looking for less noise? There are lots of nice noise-canceling headphones on the market.

More Ports, More Charging

chargers ppai expo 2016

You’re going to need something to charge up all of that new Bluetooth tech, and the promo product industry has you covered there as well.

Americans spend a lot of time on their phones. We check social media sites around 17 times per day, and that doesn’t even include time spent talking, texting, or doing any of the other millions of things you can do on your phone. If people aren’t already carrying custom chargers, they will soon.

Thanks to manufacturers in the industry, you now have your choice among chargers with lots of ports, one that’s made with bamboo, and many sporting accessories (like wrist straps) you didn’t even know that you wanted. Including a charger with a strobe on it is great for running at night or even just helping you find your keys in your bag.

Basically, if you want a feature AND a charger, you can get it. Next up will be water bottle chargers. Or a hoodie with a charger in the pocket.

Custom Apparel Gets Dressy

apparel shot

There’s a good chance that you own some kind of promotional t-shirt of your favorite band or sports team. And for a long time, t-shirts, long sleeve shirts, and hooded sweatshirts were about all you could get in the industry.

Now though? The sky is the limit. You can have woven scarves, ponchos, neon, or pastel camouflage apparel all imprinted with your custom logo. We also saw a lot of socks and caps. Basically, if you have seen an item in a store, there’s probably a promotional equivalent for it.

I particularly noticed the expanded lines of neon colors and new materials. You don’t have to stick with basic cotton and white anymore, and I am pretty excited about the new apparel opportunities.

Bags and Coolers Get…Well, Cooler

bags ppai expo 2016

This is definitely one of the biggest trends right now. Even though the industry has been lifted up by the low-cost non-woven polypropylene tote, manufacturers are taking notice that consumers want better and fancier products along with more choices.

We saw a lot of bags that are made out of new and exciting materials (our favorite were the bags made out of sweatshirt material with neon lining!). There are also bags to hit every single price point you can imagine. No longer will you have to choose between a $1 or $5 bag. There will also be $2, $3, and $4 options.

Did you think that lunch bags could only be nylon or neoprene? Well, think again. We’ve seen a lot of interest in the burlap products we carry, and the same manufacturer has recently released a denim line.

Coolers have also stepped up their game with many of them being made with extra insulation that can rival any cooler you’d buy at the store. Or, if a little whimsy is what you’d prefer, then check out the one with little eyeballs on the pull tabs.

Speaking of retail, the industry as a whole understands that you don’t ALWAYS want to be sporting a company logo on your bag or backpack. So how can you still promote your brand and deliver a retail-ready promotion? Imprinted liners. Your logo will be seen each and every time your customers open the bag.

Other Highlights

The main categories that we hit in the video aren’t even close to showcasing all the trends in the industry. Here are a few of the other things making waves this year:

Fitness Trackers

fitness tracker ppai expo 2016

Everyone wants to be the next Fitbit, so we saw a ton of different fitness trackers. Some were basic pedometers, but some had really advanced technology and branded apps to go along with them.

Phone EVERYTHING

phone everything ppai expo 2016

It wasn’t just chargers – if you could put it on a phone, it was being showcased. We saw plenty of sticky mobile wallets (no surprise after our bestsellers from last year), along with straps for your wrist and cleaning cloths.

Bright Office Supplies

up your standard ppai expo 2016

I love bright colors and I’m happy to see that the industry is headed this way. The entire Up Your Standard line makes me happier than I can say. Who wouldn’t feel better with this stapler or tape dispenser on their desk?

Adult Coloring Books

coloring book ppai expo 2016

Last but not least, the adult coloring book trend has hit the promotional products industry as well! You’ve probably heard about how adult coloring books are all the rage right now. Why not jump on the trend yourself? Bundle these with some imprinted crayons, markers, or colored pencils and you have one crafty promotion!

We had a great time at the PPAI Expo and we can’t wait to go back next year. We’re still debating if our media team will wear those suits again, but we promise that we’ll bring back info on the hottest trends.