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Choose your promotional product ideas based on industry marketing trends

Posted September 27, 2013  |  written by  |  Tips and Trends from the Experts
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industry marketing trends

InkHead shows you how to utilize industry marketing trends to guide your promotions.

Does popularity matter? When it comes to advertising, the answer is yes. Your end goal is to dominate a particular niche, and potentially grow your brand so that it’s recognized beyond that demographic or industry corner. So to build your own popularity, it makes sense to look at popularity trends as well.

Fads are only overrated once they’re over. Staying up-to-date on what’s trending can help your marketing strategy immensely, especially if you manage to hop on the bandwagon early. Eventually, you may be able to set trends yourself.

Following Industry Marketing Trends

For now, do your research and keep your risks minimal. Consider some of these tips.

In the promotional items industry
What are the most popular promotional giveaways throughout all industries? Promotional Products Association International, the only global not-for-profit trade association in that sector, is made up of more than 10,000 member companies. As a result, the group’s 2013 fact sheet is a treasure trove of valuable information.

According to the PPAI survey information, promotional product distributor sales breakdown like this:

  • The most popular items are wearables, making up around 30 percent of sales. Wearables includes custom T-shirts, hats, athletic wear and other popular items.
  • The second most popular are writing instruments, which make up about 9 percent of sales. Promotional pens and pencils have long been an industry mainstay – you probably own a handful yourself – and show no signs of slowing down.
  • Third are bags, at just over 7 percent. Tote bags in particular are a trendy product, thanks to green initiatives, and they make for great marketing thanks to their portability and broad, flat sides, which are perfect for displaying images and text.
  • Closely following bags, with about 7 percent of market sales, are calendars. Calendars make for ideal mailer items. Like pens and pencils, customers tend to hold onto these for their usefulness. Calendars can easily become yearly, traditional giveaway items, too.

Next on the list are drinkware, office accessories, computer products and electronics. While useful, these are increasingly more niche products that don’t have the range of wearable promotional items. However, more niche isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, it can work to your benefit sometimes.

In your industry
Knowing promotional product trends broadly is just the start. The next trick is understanding the movement of your industry.

The specifics of this will change from one industry to another, but the best way to keep abreast of trends is simply to read, watch and listen. Keep updated on thought leadership content, read or skim all the blog posts you stumble across, subscribe to industry journals and try to develop a sixth sense for when things might blow up.

For instance, say you’re looking to market your health information technology company. You don’t need an ear to the ground to know that there are major changes coming down the line, from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to more industry-specific events, such as the new ICD-10 code set.

But a little digging, reading and attentiveness might tell you that one primary concern, among patients and doctors alike, is security. At your next convention or trade show, play on these concerns and trends with a new promotional item: a flash drive shaped like a padlock, perhaps. Pick an item that relates back to your expertise – technology – and then send a message through your customization - in this case, “Your personal medical information is safe with us.”

Against the grain
Of course, sometimes it makes sense to buck trends. Going against what’s currently popular can be risky, but if you feel the trend settling or growing stale, it might be the right time for your own campaign. Just think of Volkswagen’s infamous “Think Small” ads for its Beetle car, which turned the industry on its head.

And you don’t need to upset preexisting trends too directly. Why not reinvent the topic being talked about? This kind of marketing takes a lot of work, but it can pay off in huge ways.

So does popularity truly matter? When it comes to trends, you want to make sure your marketing is a step ahead. From custom T-shirts to politics, technology or pop culture, find out what your industry is talking about most, then use it to your advantage with the help of promotional product marketing.
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