10 Promotional Product Trends Defining the New Decade

Straight off the Floor of PPAI’s 2020 EXPO

Earlier this month at ASI Orlando, we got a glimpse of some buzz-worthy promotional products making their debut. This included everything from 100% recycled clothing to a sticker that tells you when it’s time to re-apply sunscreen. I mean, seriously—isn’t it so wonderful to live in the 21st century? That was the first trade show of the year, and we left Orlando pumped to see what PPAI’s 2020 show in Las Vegas had in store for us. Needless to say, it was one for the books.

We noticed a few parallels between 2019 and 2020 trends and we’re hoping this constancy may help steer brands towards the right promotional products–if it’s already making a splash in multiple spots, likely you’re onto a branded premium with serious staying power. Without further ado, here are the top ten:

1. Sustainability

Sustainability is the new wave, and vendors demonstrated incredible out-of-the-box thinking with their eco-friendly items at this year’s show.

RainAlertz Umbrella Now uses paper vs. Plastic sleeves which read "We Care"

Most notable in our minds was the change from using a plastic umbrella sleeve to a kraft paper gift sleeve on all RainAlertz ™ umbrellas. One side of the sleeve will read “We Care”. The change will be officially rolled out on all stock by February 1, 2020 and we’re thrilled to be sourcing a brand that shares our same values. #ePromosCares

Another trend everyone’s talking about? Wheat plastic. It’s made with the husk of wheat plants which is typically tossed after harvesting. People are all over this because the husk is now being recycled and refashioned into a form of plastic that is more biodegradable.

Useful items such as wheat utensil sets, are a great alternative to plastic flatware – and perfect to travel with or even leave in the office. Pair it with this 16 oz. travel mug and you’re golden.

Wheat Utensils Kit

Our 2018 and 2019 trends featured the Basecamp® brand specifically because of their efforts to give back a portion of proceeds to wounded veterans. This year, “Sustainability” and “Give-Back” seem to go hand-in-hand, as even more companies are putting an emphasis on social responsibility. One company in particular we’re digging: Miir. Mimimalistic in design, yet functional, sustainable (and gorgeous!), every Miir item comes with a unique Give Code ™ . Recipients are able to use the code to see which exact initiative – whether it be for clean-water, strong communities or healthy environments – the sale of that item helped to support.

Miir products

As your clients catch on to this widespread idea of living a more sustainable lifestyle, they’ll be searching for ways to make the transition in their own lives—and with these branded promotional products, you’ll be able to deliver.

2. Wireless Tech Does Double-Duty

Wires are so 2019. Gone are the days of untangling our headphones and tripping over our phone chargers. It seems every item in the tech world is wireless and created to perform two functions at once—and we’re so on board.

Examples? Think water bottles with built-in speakers and chargers. Mouse pads that double as chargers, with a spot for your pen, of course. And this is just the beginning. Wireless tech is it.

3. AirPod® Everything

When was the last time you saw someone pass you on the street that didn’t have an AirPod in at least one ear? Now, brands are taking advantage of this trend and capitalizing on its popularity. Imprint your logo on one of these cases or phone holders (with a spot for the pods) and you’re sure to catch the eyes of the “tech-inspired”.

Custom Airpod holders

4. Inverted Umbrellas

Inverted umbrellas

Scratching your head? Don’t. They’re the newest innovation in the rain gear sphere, and they’re now available in a pocket size version. The inverted design is wind-resistant so you can finally stop worrying about broken umbrellas on particularly windy days. How you ask? Because inverted umbrellas close away from you (as opposed to down, which you are accustomed to) so they keep all the rain inside and prevent you from getting wet.

5. Wellness & Self-Care

The wellness and self-care trends have been emerging over the last few years and now they’re making their way into the promotional product space. Now, cosmetic, athletic and health food companies have more the opportunities to reach their customers than ever before.

At ASI Orlando, we discovered the “Sunburn Alert Sticker” which, when applied with sunscreen on the body, changes color to let you know it’s time to reapply. Crazy, right?

Some additional trends in the wellness space, which were a bit more “outside the box” than traditional wellness are Blue Light Reduction Eyeglasses, which help the wearer reduce eye fatigue and blurry vision caused by staring at computer screens for oh-so-long. Also popular are lip balm and sunscreen duos, rashguards and fitness bands. Yes, please.

6. Camo Makes a Comeback

camo sweatshirt

Another huge trend that’s trickling its way into diverse product design is Camo. We’ve seen it pop up in unexpected places, such as on water bottles, coasters, stress balls, pens, and more, and not just in traditional green and brown tones—think pink, jewel or muted tones. The trend is only getting bigger, and this is a wonderful opportunity for companies to promote their business while staying on-brand.

7. Total Transparency…

Got nothing to hide? Then you’re ready for the clear bag trend, which is yet again, huge. Last year we saw an explosion of trendy clear bags to cater to the many clear bag policies at stadiums and schools. New for this year? Mesh. Some schools are now allowing students to carry these mesh see-through bags in addition to clear, which poses as a wonderful promo opportunity for brands targeting student, millennial and Gen Z audiences.

mesh and clear bags

8. All Things Travel

As the shift from valuing “things” to valuing “experiences” increases, so do all things travel when it comes to promotional gifts. Everything from travel cocktail sets to packing cubes to updated garment bags are hot this year. One brand in particular that caught our eye? Osprey®. Known for their “All Mighty” Guarantee, “Osprey will repair any damage or defect for any reason free of charge—whether it was purchased in 1974 or yesterday.”

Founded in 1974 when owner Mike Pfotenhauer began hand-sewing made-to-order backpacks for the hikers and travelers that would pass by his home in Santa Cruz, Osprey continues to provide some of the most comfortable, best-fitting backpacks out there. And now, they’re brandable. Stay tuned for more on this trend…

9. Outdoor

Koozie cooler fanny pack

Everything from blankets and flannels to hammocks and packing sets are making waves this year. Something so simple, yet sparked our interest in this category? This Koozie® Can Cooler/Fanny Pack. Not only have fanny packs come back into style recently, but this particular one takes the trend to the next level: it has an attached cooler! Hunting, fishing, tailgating, you name it. This is a winner.

10. Tie Dye and all Things Retro

The past few decades have brought on some very memorable trends, many of which are still very much alive in 2020. Tie Dye is everywhere. Scrunchies have made a comeback, as have cropped Champion® sweatshirts and the classic Puma® zip-up (an updated version is available as well!) Even old-school games like Jenga® and Corn Hole are back in trend, as 70% of millennials are reviving table top games. Fun!

Finding the right product is only half the battle. Contact us, the Promo Know-How People, to promote your brand in a meaningful way this year.

Want to see and experience more promotional product trends from the PPAI Expo? Check out our album on Facebook.

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About Author

Katie Salerno Avatar

Katie S.

Reviewed By: Kaite S. - Marketing Brand Specialist

Tenacious brand warrior who is laser-focused on boosting our brand through effective social media presence and multiple resources. Principal producer of marvelous messages and email exposés. Message + Creative maestro who has an opening for a puppy co-worker with the expectation they stay clear of her pommes frites.