Product Trends From Day One of PPAI Expo East
Yesterday, we took to the show floor for the first day of PPAI Expo East in Atlantic City. Though the show floor covers less ground than its Vegas counterpart, there's plenty to see from a variety of suppliers. These shows are always a great way to gauge what trends are developing in the promotional space, and here's what we noticed while walking the floor.
Retail Look and Feel
We talked about it a lot in our podcast covering Expo East from the show floor, but it's worth repeating here: More and more suppliers are offering products that replicate a retail look and feel, or, in some cases are products you could find at retail. S&S Activewear, for example, was showing off Independent Trading Co. hoodies made from fine yarns for a super-soft hand. That's common at retail, but less so in promotional apparel (T-shirts are ahead of the curve here, but hoodies and sweatshirts are just catching up). The hoodies also have a cotton finish that's easier to print on, allowing for the kinds of graphics people would expect to see in a store.
Over at BIC Graphic's booth, the retail looks were everywhere, but stood out most in the supplier's KAPSTON Natisino bags and totes. Made from leatherette material, they could have passed for Louis Vuitton, right down to the debossed imprint on the tag. BIC Graphic also had on display its new and expanded KOOZIE line that makes heavy use of the color white, which is having kind of a moment at retail right now. The line includes a variety of new outdoor products, but the coolest was a camping cooler backpack that had a pair of built-in bottle openers.
This is another topic we've discussed plenty of times in articles and on the podcast, but more and more suppliers are showcasing reusable and environmentally friendly items. Over at the Hit Promotional Products booth, we saw a pretty large display of reusable drinkware as well as eco-friendly single-use items like paper straws.
At the Visstun booth, we noticed a new line of double-wall insulated tumblers and kits with lids of different sizes.
The days of packaging going overlooked are over. Why waste all that branding real estate? Spector & Co. knows it, which is why the supplier has developed several custom packaging options that give its products extra pop. Available in full-wrap four-color decoration, the packaging options help give the items an extra-high-end look that, you guessed it, makes them more retail-like in appearance, not to mention open doors for design creativity. That can pay off big for your clients' brands.
Like we talked about on the podcast with BIC regarding the Koozie brand going beyond its origins, companies like Galaxy Balloons Inc. have widened their product lines beyond what some people might think. In addition to inflatables, we saw items like wooden bats, frisbees, baseballs, basketball hoops and more.
Voice assistants like Amazon Echo, Google Home and others are changing the way people live. They're also opening new doors for businesses ("Alexa, find me the best taco joint in South Philly") by making it easier for people to find what they're looking for. The new emphasis on audio, though, means businesses need new ways to stand out. CleggPromo has the solution, with a whole bunch of audio products that allow brands to have an "audio logo" that goes with their visual ones. The voice assistant revolution is coming. Let's be ready for it.
Soft, Heathered Style
End-users are looking for soft and stylish apparel, and companies like Blue Generation and Cutter and Buck are offering apparel items like T-shirts, hoodies and button downs that have a more modern look and appealing texture.
What stood out to you on the show floor? Let us know in the comment section below!