7 Top Branded Merchandise Trends for 2020



The 2010’s have come to a close. It was a momentous decade full of innovation, change, and shifting trends. Now it’s time to set our sights forward. Let’s look at where your attention should be focused as we step into a fresh decade of possibility. 

What worked 2, 5, or 10 years ago won’t necessarily work today. Every great business evolves with buyer desires. We’ve done the legwork to narrow down a world of possibilities to 7 actionable trends. From global impact to personal well-being, this list provides a wealth of opportunities to speak to today’s buyers. However, you can’t execute every trend. 

Comb through the list and find the trends that fit your business. Great brands stand for something, not everything. Without further ado, let’s get into these trends. 


Trend 1: Environmentally Friendly

Early in the last decade, many people talked about wanting sustainable goods, but they didn’t back it up with their buying activity. Things have changed. Eco-friendly products were the fastest-growing products on store shelves throughout 2018 and 2019. This isn’t speculation, it’s a fact. 

Despite the higher price tag for green options, consumers weren’t scared away. Take notice of shifting consumer behavior and make sure you include eco options in your company store. 

Eco-friendly products like silicone and stainless-steel straws, reusable grocery bags, and non-plastic water bottles are just a few examples of the environmental movement. Balloon manufacturers are even tapping into this trend by offering biodegradable balloons made without plastic. The brands that will prosper are those that accept this shift and accommodate the desire for environmentally friendly products. 

Merging what’s good for the environment with what’s good or business.

“Good for your brand. Better for the planet.”

We couldn’t agree more. We've listened to customers, identified demand, and delivered a comprehensive product line to ensure our clients' brands are promoted on sustainable products. Many of the eco-smart lines leverage sustainability and tie in social responsibility with their connection to giveback projects. Speaking of social responsibility…

Hoover Stainless Steel Straw Set

Trend 2: Social Responsibility

Another global trend that will shape the promotional products industry is social responsibility. Today, customers like to know where a product was made. They’re interested in whether the product was tested on animals and if a percentage of its sales goes toward a social cause. More and more companies are becoming conscious of their impact. In the ordinary course of business, these companies are starting to operate in ways that enhance their world instead of contributing negatively to it.

The United States currently ranks as the third-largest market for Fairtrade goods. And sales for such products surpassed $1 billion back in 2017. A recent survey by Clutch found that 75% of the consumers they spoke with are likely to start shopping with a company that supports an issue they agree with. Additionally, executives are starting to realize that promoting social responsibility will enhance their public image, attract media coverage, and please investors.

The new trend is to tie social impact into products. An example is Basecamp®. Proceeds from Basecamp support the Warrior Spirit Retreat, a place where Wounded Warriors who have served our country learn to heal.

Basecamp® Icey

Trend 3: The Great Outdoors

According to the latest report from the Outdoor Foundation, more millennials are venturing outdoors than any other age group. And as a whole, U.S. participation in outdoor activities continues to increase. Not only do Millennials wield an incredible amount of consumer buying power today, but they’re also starting to ascend to positions of power within organizations. That means they’re deciding what promotional products to buy.

Noting this booming trend, many suppliers have added outdoor products to their lines. The EPEX collection offers camping and hiking gear. Activewear like zip-up moisture-wicking jackets, chafe-free sporty tees, and flexible and functional leggings that will sing to those Millennial buyers.

Men’s Matrix System Jacket

Trend 4: Mindfulness & Wellness

The health and wellness industry continues to grow, with $179 billion in revenue projected for 2020. That’s twelve digits if you’re counting. 

According to the CDC, meditation’s popularity has increased more than threefold in the U.S. over the past five years. Practices like yoga and meditation are now common treatments for a wide range of symptoms like pain, loneliness, anxiety, burnout, PTSD, depression, and possibly a remedy for lackluster promos.

Smart marketers are tapping this trend. Mindfulness and wellness products include essential oils and wellness kits. Everything from yoga kits and detoxing bath sets to aromatherapy diffusers, and even adult coloring book.

3Plus vibe smart activity tracker

Trend 5: Little Wins

Although they’re little, promotional stickers, patches, buttons, and pins pack a big punch when it comes to promoting a brand. Temporary tattoos, custom lapel pins, coasters, and magnets fit in this category, too. We use the term “Little Wins” to remind you that these small statement pieces are great vehicles that allow people to express themselves and their beliefs. These powerful little marketing tools also harken back to our childhood. They come across as something fun rather than an ad or sales tool, minimizing potential customers’ automatic defenses.

Consumers use these products to decorate their water bottles, bags, laptops, and phones with messages that reflect their identity, opinions, personality, and interests. According to Nielsen, 82% of Americans rely on recommendations when making a purchase. So, when a customer endorses a company’s brand by stamping it on one of their belongings, they become a valuable marketing vehicle. That’s a persuasive marketing angle to capitalize on when selling your Little Wins. 

Football Shaped Coasters

Trend 6: Materials 

With the ever-popular minimalism mindset, natural and organic materials are trending hard right now. Look for products made or accented with bamboo, wood, or cork (bonus, cork is extremely eco-friendly… we call that a two-trender). Speaking of green, recycled plastic is another trending material that you’ll want on your list to explore. 

As hot as eco-friendly materials are, leather never goes out of style. Leather, whether it’s faux, vegan, or genuine, is surging. The global market for leather products is expected to surpass $260 billion. That’s up from $216 billion in 2016. 

Why is this traditional material so hot? Leather products tend to be durable and give consumers a high-quality impression. Leather products range from key clips and travel kits to luggage, golf accessories, and shotgun cases that will capture the attention of leather aficionados.

Wooden Diffuser Set

Trend 7: Retail Feel 

Speaking of durability and high-quality, promotional products that offer a perception of craftsmanship don’t get dropped in the trash. Companies are looking to put their brand on products that stand out and make a positive impression. They want their brand associated with a product that looks like it was just pulled off a retail shelf. 

Bring that retail-inspired feel to the products you’re selling. Learn from Apple and other successful CPG brands, consider every aspect of the product experience from catalog design and packaging to product design and function. Create an end-to-end experience that says this is a high-caliber product.

Odyssey Bluetooth® Headphones

Let’s Get This Decade Rolling

Today, we covered the hottest trends of 2020 to help you identify what people will want this year. Interested in more top trends and resources? Give us a call at 800.999.3468 to learn more!

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