Promotional products trends for meetings and events

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A must-attend event every year on my calendar is the ASI Show (Advertising Specialty Institute) Chicago in the summer. It’s right before the holiday gift giving season, and new promotions for the coming year are often introduced. With an eye out for items and trends that affect the meetings and events industry, let’s see what I noticed on the show floor.
Promotional products trends for meetings and events
Bag brag and drag. Of course, at registration I got my larger than life tote bag to use on the show floor. It was covered with photo imprints depicting Chicago, an example of the new photo digital printing technologies being used on all types of promotions. Something for the show and the city to brag about!

But here’s the interesting trend, I saw less tote bags on the show floor than at any other promotion show of late. Some of the trusted vendors in the bag arena were there. But, surprisingly few new bag supplier entries. Why? Promotional tote bags market share have been dragged down by 21 per cent since just 2009 according to the recently published ASI State of the Industry Report. Wow!  This is happening because:

  1. More are bringing their own bags to events to accommodate their own particular brand of mobile e-gear.
  2. People are reaching a point of reusable bag glut.

Mobilizing forces. In almost every promotional product category, except for maybe mugs, there seemed to be some mobile related item in every booth. However, not so much for “computer” or “electronic” items that would be used on a desktop. This is a tech trend that’s been brewing for a while. And USB drives? I still get inquiries for them. But I can only remember a few suppliers for them on this year’s show floor. Again, mobile devices often do not have USB ports. A better tech promotion would be an item that enhances or protects mobile gear such as decorative stickers, speakers, ear buds and headphones, pens with stylus, and screen cleaners. These are generic promotions that can be used with almost any mobile device.

Gone green/Green gone. What a contrast to a few years ago! Very, very few booths featured, what I call, blatantly green products. Back in the day (like 2008), suppliers and some distributors were clamoring to feature eco friendly products. Then the green killer monster of the recession hit, and green took a back seat to the other green ($$$). Today, the green aspects of a product are a footnote to other features or are just another check box on the product description. Reusable? Check (most common green claim seen). Recyclable? Check. Made of recycled materials? Check (another very common claim). The green aspect seen very little is biodegradable. My guess is that it’s because to truly be classified as biodegradable, a product must meet some very strict certification standards. The other claims are easier for manufacturers to verify. So the good news is that green has definitely become more mainstream, so mainstream that it barely warrants special billing. Click here for more green promotions tips on Corporate Meetings
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