Coming into the new year, the Identity Works merchandising team had a chance to meet with our brand and factory partners, scout out new products, and dig deep into the trends and influences that are shaping the world of corporate gifting and swag at the PPAI Expo, the largest industry event for the promo and apparel industry. One of the things that excited our team most after this event is seeing how the corporate marketing supply chain has shaped itself to react to consumer demand in meaningful and impactful ways. All of these trends have overlap and interconnectedness, telling an impactful story that reflects the wants and buying trends of the modern consumer.
- Sustainability and Social Responsibility
Last year, we published a blog article talking about the growing consumer demand for brands to be more socially conscious, and how we can help make your swag match your message with socially conscious product. We’re delighted to say this trend is absolutely continuing and looks prime to explode in 2022. Some of the stories we’re most excited about are:
- Everywhere Apparel – Everywhere came onto the scene by recycling scrap t-shirts and turning them into facemasks to help combat the spread of COVID-19. Now, their 100% recycled cotton tees and unique closed loop system (scan the tag to get a prepaid return envelope so you can easily send back as many cotton garments as will fit for recycling at end of life) is available for corporate branding gear. These shirts bring the comfort and cut you get from fashion forward brands, made in a sustainable way that dramatically cuts water usage, carbon emissions, and landfill waste compared to other materials and manufacturing methods.
- Refresh Glass – Refresh Glass started with a simple mission – rescue 10 million glass bottles from the waste stream. How? By transforming them into absolutely gorgeous housewares, of course. Refresh drinking glasses and vases are full of individual character, and in addition to making a unique upcycled product that has a much more carbon-friendly footprint than straight recycling, this team also supports community building with groups like Habitat for Humanity. The Refresh story is one that resonates with consumers because it is socially conscious, authentic, and the products are beautiful (and American made).
- New Take on the Tradeshow Booth – we love nothing more than helping our customers make a big impression, and while we focus on easy assembly and smaller footprints with our display materials, there’s no denying that the cost of shipping and drayage on tradeshow materials is a significant expense for anything larger than a basic tabletop setup. To that end, we have a unique new line of display materials inspired by the Tokyo Olympics, giving you the ability for a 100% recycled and recyclable tradeshow booth made of corrugated cardboard. Displays ship partially assembled, are finished with plastic screws, and greatly decreases the physical footprint of your display in transit (lowering or eliminating crating and drayage costs).
- Domestic Cottage Manufacturing
If there is a positive from years of penalty tariffs, a global pandemic, and massive supply chain issues, it is the innovation that has been driven by companies looking to solve challenges and operate as nimbly as possible within our new reality. In the corporate marketing space, we’re seeing a newfound dedication to bringing manufacturing back onshore in a more meaningful way. What does this mean for you? Low quantity minimums and quicker turn times on items like:
- Custom cut and sew apparel – from full color sublimated t-shirts to $300 technical jackets, North American made custom apparel is available, most with as few as one piece.
- Ceramics – Whether you are looking for a simple coffee mug, a bespoke hand-glazed stein, or something in between, we have options from production and brand partners located within the US
- Custom Socks and Bags – Custom knit socks are my all time favorite promo product. So, knowing there is an option for KNIT socks (not sublimation) with cotton, and to be able to get them in quantities measured in 10’s (vs. hundreds) in a couple weeks, from brands you (and your team) already know and love, is pretty awesome. On the bag side, everything from 100% recyclable polymailers to full color, edge-to-edge printed vegan leather glam totes, are made by hard working folks in the USA, offering totally custom products at lower minimums than offshore factories.
- Home Specialties – Artisan upcycled drinking glasses, portable indoor firepits, and live edge cutting boards are some of our favorite cottage products produced by dedicated makers here in the US
- Brands Brands Brand
Whether you’re looking for retail juggernaut recognizable names or cherished boutique brands that will surprise and delight your audience, the trend of retail brands entering the corporate marketing space is continuing with force in 2022. Some of the newer maker we’re most excited to partner with in 2022 include:
- The Unboxing Experience
Everyone loves a good unboxing experience, and as we continue to see gifts that are distributed via individual drop shipment, we’re excited about some new packaging options that we can use to surprise and delight your audience:
- Plantable Packaging – even more sustainable than recyclable packaging, these pillow boxes, envelopes, and gift mailers are made with seed paper, so your recipients can actually PLANT the packaging. Browse styles here – https://www.idworksideas.com/search/SavedSearchID=80057
- Unique Box Designs – curated collections like our “Pass The Remote” kit use vibrant full color print, lenticulars, and other special effects for an eye-popping customer experience that works as the perfect compliment for thoughtfully curated snacks and swag.
- Don’t forget the stickers – One of our most requested items for new hire kits, corporate marketing kits, and event kits in 2021 was sticker sheets, and the popularity has not waned. Decals are an incredibly cost effective promo item that resonates with a wide range of demographics and audiences, and we have a wide range of special effects print, stocks, and finishes to match your preferred look and feel.
- At Home Enjoyment
Whether you are a business-facing or consumer-facing brand, at the end of the day, you are transacting and building relationships with individuals, and, given the continuing trends with remote work environments, we are finding “home” gifts to be the new standard for business gifts. This has some really fun and creative applications, such as using items like serving boards/cutting boards or wireless speakers in place of traditional awards, home garden or planter kits in place of traditional office gear, and more. Paired with this (and in part driven by this) we are also seeing much more focus on beautiful product design, helping you surprise and delight your audience.