With the new year around the corner, it’s a natural time to review your marketing budget for 2019 and start thinking about how much spend you will allocate to planned campaigns and marketing activity.
For many marketers, this means a focus on digital channels but interestingly, non-digital channels still hold a huge amount of influence in today’s internet driven world.
Of these, promotional marketing could be seen as one of the most consistently successful at both driving sales and brand presence.
From handouts at trade fairs through to well-planned product launches, it helps to know what your customers are looking for in the promotional space and to recognize the trends.
What do customers value from promotional materials? Are they interested in utility and practicality or is it the aesthetics and style that will impress them more?
Another factor is the growing issue of recycling and conscious consumerism which are now shaping promotional material trends.
Are your products eco-friendly and if not, could they actually be damaging your brand?
In this article, I want to have a closer look at some of the trends that are emerging in promotional marketing and how they will shape this still powerful marketing strategy in 2019.
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1. Recycled Coffee Cups
This is a particularly popular category of promotional material and demand shows no signs of abating. With retail stores and coffee providers now promoting the use of reusable coffee cups in a bid to reduce single-use disposable alternatives, your brand can offer a positive association and experience to its audiences by investing in recyclable coffee mugs – with your logo prominent on the side, of course.
Even better, these products don’t even need to be expensive to offer the necessary attribute of value to the recipient. Another idea would be to give the cups away with a delicious cup of coffee already in it. Of course, a brand logo on a coffee cup is going to be intimately associated with the quality of the coffee (or other hot beverage) inside it, so make sure you try what’s going in them before you commit.
Image Source: Starbucks Philippines
These are perfect items to hand out at customer events to further cement that perception of quality and to provide an immediate and memorable experience to your target audience. With everyone drinking delicious gourmet coffee from a branded coffee cup at your event, your branding will be everywhere.
2. Mobile Phone Peripherals
Now that most people have a smartphone and rely on it in their daily lives, promotional marketing gifts which offer useful phone accessories meet the essential criteria of utility and value to the recipient.
A key trend that has emerged in 2018 and will continue to develop in 2019 will be the popularity of branded mobile phone peripherals like chargers, cases, power banks as well as sound related items like Bluetooth speakers and headphones. These are all great items to hand out alongside a VR or AI-enabled experience at a trade show.
One word of caution here though is to invest in quality. Whilst it’s unlikely you’ll be using Bower & Wilkins headphones or Gucci carry cases, skimping on quality will only lessen the brand appeal of this stuff. At worst, handing out inferior quality electronic equipment could actually damage your brand.
3. Wellness Products
The health and wellness trend continues unabated so expect to see plenty of promotional items in this category, particularly targeted towards millennials and overworked executives. These items can include everything from vouchers for spa days through to fitness trackers and branded water bottles.
Wellness-related promotional marketing materials are ideal for both potential customers through to your own employees. In fact, they are particularly popular as part of internal incentive and recognition schemes designed to improve employee health and well-being by building motivation and offering a range of wellness benefits. This not only keeps your workforce happy but it is perfect PR for your business outside of the workplace.
Image Source: SK Corporate Marketing
When promotional gifts are used in this way, they can also be used to support broader employee engagement incentives that are focused on boosting productivity and reducing absence and sickness. When used with potential customers, they show that your brand is engaged in issues around fitness and wellbeing, which is never a bad space to be in.
4. Materials and Textures
Promotional products are just as susceptible to aesthetic trends and perennial fashions as any product is. No more is this true than with clothing and interiors, so keeping on top of what’s hot and what’s so last season is paramount if you’re delving into this space.
Image Source: Elite Promo Marketing
In 2019, expect to see trends in product materials and clothing and accessory fashions, mirrored in promos. Matte colors are very in, as is the use of natural materials like wood, copper, and cork. Quality continues to be a factor that customers value, so it’s well worth choosing the promotional items that represent real value and quality and giving away fewer of them to your key target audiences, rather than giving away lots of lower perceived value items.
Image Source: Trigon International
Remember that recycling and eco-friendly materials are both key trends that show no sign of slowing. If you can incorporate sustainable and eco-friendly choices into your marketing products, you can help to grow positive brand associations.
5. Memory Sticks
Now an old favorite, memory sticks make amazing promos that are cheap but have the potential for a long and useful life. In the same way that pens were often a no-brainer, these are particularly popular amongst the B2B audience.
Image Source: Wurlin
As well as allowing you to create an endearing brand reach for potentially years to come in laptops and PCs across your locality and beyond, USB sticks allow B2B businesses to deliver another key element of brand building – thought leadership. By simply loading up the memory stick with useful and practical information like Powerpoint presentations, PDF guides and useful Word and Excel templates, you’ll be able to share vital information and education with the end user, whilst leaving them with a useful freebie that they can retain and reuse.
6. Dual or Multifunctional Items
People love promos that offer maximum utility and this can be seen in the continuing popularity of multifunctional items that fulfill two or more purposes. So pen and stylus, mousepad calendars, memory stick flashlights, keyring and compass, as well as the huge variety of multitools available.
Image Source: Inkhead
There is a general consumer trend towards minimalism, downsizing, and utilitarianism which these products perfectly tap into. A promo product with multi-functionality is going to appeal to those, who are keen to minimize waste and clutter. Perhaps, more importantly, they are more likely to get used more frequently and kept for longer, meaning more reach and longevity for your brand marketing.
If you are looking for further inspiration for your promo choices in 2019, consider your demographic carefully. Remember that B2C audiences are often now heavily geared towards the millennial generation and that this age group is also now moving into the B2B space in influencer and managerial roles.
Millennials like to see themselves as being unique, creative and values-led, and their love of experiences can help you work with your promo provider to find quirky items that will appeal to their needs. Remember too that it is far better to buy fewer promos and to use them more intelligently and in a targeted way.
By splitting your audience into target demographics with their own needs and wants, you can choose smaller order batches of promos which meet these more closely – rather than ‘spamming’ large audiences with the same thing. Do this and you will also see your ROI improve in the context of your goals and objectives in investing in promotional marketing products in the first place.
Which promotional products will your brand be investing in for 2019?
Guest author: Steve Hill is Client Director at Promotional Marketing Company Wurlin and director of their subsidiaries Bag Workshop and Umbrella Workshop. You can connect with Wurlin on Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.