I just returned from the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Expo, which is one of the largest promotional products and premium merchandise show in Las Vegas—more than 11,500 attendees and 1400 exhibitors. Although Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh grabbed headlines as keynote speaker, what grabbed my attention was four trends that buyers of promotional products should take note of:
Product safety takes center stage. Product safety is a top concern and buyers of promotional products would be wise to purchase only from distributors that source products complying with the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA). The PPAI used the 2014 show to launch its extensive Product Safety Awareness Program and program participation will be mandatory for PPAI Expo 2015 exhibitors, sponsors and advertisers.
Fitness technology is big. Really big. Use of these products has experienced rapid growth. More sophisticated technology and wide acceptance beyond the fitness buff are two reasons. But with the Affordable Care Act giving support to employee wellness programs, I think you’re really going to see fitness technology take off. These kinds of products are ideal for tracking employee activities with the goal of reducing organizations’ health insurance premiums. Think trackers, like FitBit, that track steps, distance and calories and sync to computers and smartphones.
Branded products continue to score. Promotional products are a staple when it comes to reinforcing brand awareness and reach. But sometimes you want something that doesn’t scream your brand, especially when it comes to executive gifts. A good example I saw was custom branded hangtags for high quality golf shirts. The wearer is reminded of the brand every time they put on the shirt, which will probably be more often because the facing side is logo-free.
There were also new imprint methods that add a distinct touch. These include tone-on-tone imprints, or imprints that have the dimension and appearance of liquid metal. Very sharp!
RFID blocking products are big. Credit card security is a huge issue, and although breeches of credit card databases are in the headlines, another culprit is RFID readers that can grab information before that credit card leaves the owner’s wallet. It’s called “skimming” and now there are products that protect this electronic pick-pocketing. The PPAI show was full of products that block unwanted RFID scanning, with RFID-blocking wallets, passport covers and cell phone cases. Seems like a great way to show you really care.
Product safety, fitness technology, branded products and RFID blocking are the big news for promotional products in 2014. As we’ve said, promotional products pack a punch—they carry a higher recall rate than television, print, or online advertising—88 percent vs. 70 percent according to PPAI research. By staying on top of the latest in promotional products, and selecting the provider with care, you’ll be amplifying that advantage.
Nancy Reuscher is a product manager with Marketing Innovators International, Inc. She brings extensive experience with branded promotional products and works closely with clients to ensure that their reward mix is the best possible choice.
To learn more about incorporating branded products into your reward mix see: