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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 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.

Which trend are you most excited about? Anything that we missed? Let us know in the comments below!

expand your brand


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Ryan

    This was an awesome article! I always love to hear about what kind of trends are happening in our industry! I am personally a big fan of the healthy drinkware trend. I am always looking for a cool new bottle that has multiple functions to entice myself to drink more water and entice a healthy lifestyle!
    The new bags are going to be a big deal. With so much room to imprint a logo, bags have always been a great way to promote your brand. Now with so many more options, customers will be able to get exactly what they want!
    Great suits guys!

  2. Anthony

    Great video guys! There were so many awesome products showcased and it looks like there are TONS of potential for customizing some specific items! 😀 #Amazing.

    More personalized tech coming into the market is great since the demand for those items is HUGE. Especially if you are using your device all the time at a festival, event or a party; it’s always great to be able to charge your device and keep on tweeting!! 2016 is looking more awesome by the second!

  3. Chase

    Looks like you guys had some fun there this year, hah! So many really innovative items that not only are more convenient for the user but way more stylish. I can only hope those bright colors make their way to other items, I get so many requests for those! Of all the things I started to see in the video and what we have seen on our end, more ways to brand has been increasing in popularity. Can’t wait to see some people order items that allow for larger imprints than the typical!

  4. Elizabeth Watters

    Wowza! I love all the new items that are trending this year! Being an avid lifter and fitness queen the fitness trackers are going to be a big hit! A lot of businesses like schools, hospitals, and cleaning services are going to be buying the heck out of these to replace their pedometers for fun functions or to promote a healthy workplace. Check out that perfect bag to carry your workout clothes in is that sweatshirt tote! I want one so bad! It is so different from anything I have seen in the promo industry. The neon colors are definitely trending and on point with a little throwback to the 90’s. It makes me want to go to a New Kids On The Block concert. I will definitely be mentioning these bags to my clients!

  5. Stacy Gruca

    Awesome suits and awesome blog! Looks like you guys had a blast! I love that the promotional products industry is taking a sharp right hand turn towards the “retail” side of the promotional products. Moving away from throw away items is awesome. Giving your client something they will use on a daily basis increases your brand awareness. There are so many cool new tech items in this video! Cant wait to get them in my clients hands 🙂

  6. Erin

    You guys really dress to impress – thanks for getting so much great footage from the show and for highlighting some of the newest items for 2016!

    I’m personally loving the adult coloring books! I also love the bright new color lines for apparel, bags and desk accessories. Looks like Neon is really taking off this year. I’m interested to see the price points on the fitness trackers. I think these would be huge for so many industries and events. Thanks again for the great footage and awesome article!

  7. Jaimie

    This is such a cool blog! I am totally digging the outfits you guys wore to this show. It looks like you guys had a great time!

    It would be so cool to be able to see all of those new and trendy promo products up close and personal and being able to see what each vendor has to offer.

    You can see all the trends developing in this industry. So many products revolved around cell phones. I mean, lets be real, who does anything without their phone any more? It is obvious on why so many vendors would want to have so many products revolved around that because those are the ones that will super sell. 🙂

    Thanks for all the info guys. 🙂


    With havin so much content and articles do you ever run into any problems of plagorism or copyright infringement?
    My blog has a lot of exclusive content I’ve either created myself or outsourced but it looks like
    a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my
    agreement. Do you know any methods to help stop content from being stolen? I’d truly appreciate it.

    • Todd Heim

      Yes, it happens regularly. DMCA take-down requests sometimes work if emailing the website owner does not.

  9. Debra

    When is next convention?

  10. Bansri M

    An excellent break-down of the Product Development highlights!

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