Perhaps the most fun of the marketing trends we’re tracking, promotional products are set to have a banner year in 2024. Marketers will take advantage of the fully revived event scene to go all in on swag, using it not only as a fun eye-catcher at conferences but as a true brand ambassador.
Let’s take a look at the trends driving promotional product production and distribution for 2024.
Trend 1: As Events Boom, Demand for Promotional Products Will Increase
After a full stop in 2020 and a slow return over the last few years, it’s safe to say in-person events are now fully back in swing. 40 percent of baby boomers and 60 percent of Gen X/Millennials attended more events in 2023 than 2022, according to Eventbrite, and the post-COVID return to in-person activities is only continuing to rise.
From conferences to store openings to holiday gatherings, promo products make the perfect party favors. So, as businesses get back to gathering in-person with their audiences, via conferences, trade shows, and other events, the need is higher than ever for impactful giveaways that create a tangible, memorable connection with potential customers.
After all, swag isn’t just fun — it’s a great marketing tool. Research shows the average American owns 30 promotional items, and 89 percent of consumers can recall the brand on a promotional item they received up to two years ago. What’s more, when it comes to cost per impression, swag consistently outperforms other marketing methods.
Brands are recognizing the value of using promotional products to leave a lasting impression on attendees, whether through customized merchandise, branded apparel, or innovative tech gadgets. In 2024, marketers will be leaning into that value as much as possible.
Trend 2: Swag as Brand Ambassador
For promotional material in 2024, quality will be the name of the game. Promotional products are no longer just giveaways; they’re becoming true brand ambassadors. Businesses are investing in high-quality, stylish merchandise that not only serves a functional purpose (making it more likely recipients will use and keep it) but also aligns with their brand identity. From trendy apparel to cutting-edge tech accessories, companies are leveraging swag as a powerful tool to enhance their brand image.
When you’re designing swag for 2024, keep quality, pass-along rate, memorability, and creativity in mind, and weigh these two questions as your making your product decisions:
- How effectively does your promotional item reflect your brand’s personality? Think belt bags for a sports-and-outdoors company, shaker bottles from a wellness brand, corkscrew from a wine brand, etc. The more your swag aligns with your brand, the more likely recipients are to associate their new toy with your business, keeping your brand top of mind.
- Is the item something recipients will actually use and/or share with others? As with any collateral, the more “impressions” a promo product receives, the more effective it is as a marketing tool—and it will receive infinitely more impressions when it’s out on someone’s desk, next to them on the treadmill at the gym, etc., and not shoved in the back of a closet or depths of a briefcase.
By offering customers, potential customers, and employees promotional products that they genuinely want to use, businesses can transform recipients into walking brand ambassadors, building awareness and creating positive brand associations with every use.
Trend 3: Sustainable Swag
As we noted in our post on 2024 direct mail trends, today’s consumers want to buy from brands that share their values—and sustainability is a key value among those consumers. Harvard Business Review recently outlined just how important that particular value has become:
“Our research suggests we’re on the brink of a major shift in consumption patterns, where truly sustainable brands — those that make good on their promises to people and the planet — will seize the advantage from brands that make flimsy claims or that have not invested sufficiently in sustainability. We’re fast approaching this tipping point where sustainability will be considered a baseline requirement for purchase, and companies should prepare now.”
One way brands can demonstrate their commitment to sustainability is through prioritizing eco-friendly promotional products. What does this mean, exactly? It starts with prioritizing recycled and/or natural products, but it’s more than that. It’s also about taking care with production volume — producing only as many items as needed to avoid extras winding up in landfills (also known as make-on-demand or MOD), for example. And again, that focus on selecting high-quality items that recipients will keep and use—that won’t end up in the trash—goes a long way in sustainable swag.
In 2024, marketers will showcase their commitment to sustainability and corporate social responsibility—and attract the growing segment of customers who share those values—by prioritizing sustainable promotional products.
Trend 4: Promotional Products as Gifts to Vendors and Partners
Beyond customer-focused promotions, businesses are recognizing the importance of strengthening relationships with vendors and business partners through thoughtful gifts. In 2024, we’d put money on seeing a surge in customized, high-quality gifts designed to express gratitude, foster strong connections, and keep brands in good favor with valued partners.
From personalized corporate gifts to exclusive items tailored to the recipient’s preferences, businesses are realizing how powerful strategic gifting can be in building lasting partnerships—and standing out among the sea of companies vying for vendors’, partners’, and potential clients’ attention.
In fact, in 2023, 42 percent of businesses identify relationship management as a key reason for corporate gift-giving. And given that the corporate gifting industry is growing at 13.2 percent per year (and expected to reach $326 billion by 2027), this looks like a trend that’s going to stick around.
Trend 5: Outsourced Swag
The final trend in promotional products we expect to see in 2024 is outsourcing to trusted marketing partners. It’s no secret that overburdened marketer are looking to simplify operations and lighten their loads (in the new year and always), and one way to do that is to work with a marketing management partner who can handle not only standard print production (brochures, postcards, signage, etc.) but promotional product production as well. Vendor-managed services are a powerful way to boost marketing success and efficiency in today’s market, and in an ideal world, one vendor will be able to handle a majority of your marketing needs, simplifying the management and cost burdens.
At OneTouchPoint, we know the value of a single-source marketing management and supply chain vendor, and we strive to be that partner for our clients. From digital and physical asset management to print and distribution of wearables and promotional products that check all the boxes for 2024, we empower our clients to design and implement powerful multichannel marketing campaigns — the kind that are memorable to audiences and, more importantly, inspire them to take action.
When you’re ready to learn how OneTouchPoint can elevate your swag game — and alleviate your biggest marketing management burdens while we’re at it —contact us, and one of our experts will be happy to walk you through our process and solutions.