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Building meaningful relationships with your customers has always been a challenge. Yet as the number of marketing messages and brands increase daily, breaking through the noise can feel like cutting a rock with a plastic knife.

One way to improve the effectiveness of your messaging is to incorporate promotional products into your marketing strategy. Promotional items give your audience a tangible connection to your brand and act as a direct line of communication between you and the customer. But promotional products don’t just bring value by effectively connecting with recipients; they can also play an active role in a potential customer’s day to day life, increasing their exposure to your brand. PPAI’s 2017 consumer study showed that the longer a promotional product is kept, the more impressions it makes. With 81% of consumers holding onto a promotional product between one and five years, it’s vital to choose the right product for your target audience.

The same PPAI study showed that people keep products that are functional, fun, and trendy. While the first two qualities are relatively easy to identify in a potential item, trendiness can be challenging to define. Remember the fidget spinner? After its rapid accession to the must-have toy for all ages in June of 2017, companies were scrambling to employ them as a marketing tool. However, one month after their meteoric rise to fame, Google searches for fidget spinners had fallen by 60%. Within two months, the fad had subsided. The fidget spinner illustrates the critical lesson that not all trends are created equal. Choosing the right trend, with the right product, for the right customer matters. But with trends coming in and out of style faster than you can send an email, how do you decide which ones are worth following?

According to Theodore Levitt and the Harvard Business Review (HBR), the key to differentiating a passing fad from a crowd pleaser is based on three factors: timing, functionality, and creativity.


Trends can be broken down into three stages: mega-trends, trends, and sub-trends.

Mega-trends are things that significantly impact a society’s values and people’s core beliefs. Think of things like social media or the cell phone, two mega-trends that have changed the way our society communicates and the way we view technology.

Trends affect attitudes, lifestyles, and consumer-buying behavior. They may not be revolutionary, but they have a significant impact on the lives of consumers, as well as on demand for a product or service. Products like smart-home devices, athleisure, and reusable water bottles are just a few examples of trends that have transformed our day-to-day activities and decisions over the past few years.

Sub-trends are related to sentiment and consumption behavior. Pop-sockets, for example, is a sub-trend that affected the way we use our phones by making it easier to go hands-free. They don’t wholly alter consumer behavior, but sub-trends do impact a piece of the process or a particular idea. Many sub-trends gain notoriety early on, but as the market expands quickly, they become saturated with very similar products.

So how do you follow the right trend?

You want to identify a promotional product that is between a trend and a sub-trend. This product will have gained traction, but it is still new enough that the majority of your target audience has not experienced the product yet. By giving your customers a favorable first experience with the product, you can boost your brand recognition and perception.


When you’re reviewing promotional products for your target audience, ask yourself, “Is the product relatable and functional for my prospective customers?” The more a consumer can seamlessly incorporate the product into their daily routine, the higher the likelihood that the product will become a successful trend. To illustrate this, let’s take a look at fidget spinners and pop-sockets, two sub-trends that took remarkably different paths. To use a fidget spinner, people had to put in a conscious effort. You had to carry it around with you and perform a physical action, one that had to be repeated if you wanted to use it multiple times. Although it was entertaining, it required a deviation from your usual routine that wasn’t sustainable. In short, the expected behavior wasn’t adopted readily. Pop-sockets, on the other hand, are easily portable, take little to no effort to use, and are easily incorporated into your daily routine, making them a functional and memorable product.

Choosing the right promotional trends to follow means understanding the wants and needs of your target audience. By keeping your potential customers in the forefront of your mind while examining trends, you’ll pick promotional products that are primed for repeated use, enabling you to build long-term value.


Calendars, tote bags, pens, and drinkware. What do all of these have in common? They were among the most popular promotional items for consumers, according to ASI’s 2016 “Impressions Study” Although these products are frequently used, consumers have been inundated with these items so for long that they almost feel expected. If you want your promotional products to be memorable, you have to identify creative ways to leverage trends so that your promotional product stand out of the crowd.

Take the water bottle as an example. When the mega-trend of eco-friendly products began, the reusable water bottle became very popular. This inspired water bottles with built-in filters, which lead to the rise of metal and insulated water bottles. The more unique and innovative a trend is, the more likely it is that it will be successful. Look for promotional trends that capitalize on established favorites with a twist, such as self-cleaning water bottles or scarves with pockets for your phone and wallet. Creative trends ensure that both your promotional items and your brand stand out in the minds of consumers.


Trends significantly impact our behavior and the type of products that we use in our daily lives. So when you’re thinking about purchasing promotional products for your brand, follow these steps:

  • Step 1: Understand your target audience’s wants and needs
  • Step 2: Identify popular and emerging trends that are relevant to your target audience’s wants and needs
  • Step 3: Identify unique and memorable promotional items that are not only functional but also relevant to your target audience

To learn more about how MOSAIC can support your promotional product needs, please contact our talented team, and we would be more than happy to help.

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