What’s New! Promo and Apparel Industry Trends at the Ad Specialties Institute Conference

Written by Brian Elskus, Client Services Representative at Fineline Printing Group 

To help support Fineline’s growing promotional products & apparel division, I recently attended the ASI (Ad Specialties Institute) trade show in Orlando, FL.  This show brings together over 6,000 distributors and 700 suppliers from around the country!  During the 3 day event, I was able to attend educational sessions, see a showcase of new products and even a presentation from keynote speaker, Marcus Lemonis, from CNBC’s The Profit.  Mainly, it gave me a chance to discover what the new and upcoming trends are for the promotional products industry.

A show this large can be overwhelming, to say the least.  With over 700 suppliers to visit and hundreds of thousands of products to see, walking the trade show floor can literally take two full days!  While I was not able to meet with every supplier, visually, I did begin to notice two big trends taking over the marketplace.


Multi-Functional Products and ApparelIMG_5218

A lot of suppliers are expanding their product lines to include bags, drink ware & desk items.  This allows the supplier to stay competitive, while taking advantage of what makes them unique (i.e. their printing capabilities or production turn time).   Some even took these products a step further by making them multi-functional (i.e. Sun block with a built-in lip balm).  You can literally place your logo on just about anything!


Technology Trends

One big trend I noticed was technology products. Items such as power banks, USB drives & screen cleaners are becoming very popular.  In a world where people are so reliant on their mobile devices, suppliers are constantly pushing to find new ways to support these devices.  And with improved imprinting capabilities, a good majority of suppliers can now imprint full color images/logos onto these items.

One item in particular that I found useful was a clickable USB button.  This product has a clear dome button that can be customized with your logo and a USB cord that plugs into your computer.  After inserting the button’s cord into the computer and instantly installing the device, you simply click the button and it directs you to a pre-programmed web link.  These are especially useful for the banking and educational industries.  For example, our supplier demonstrated a button for Chase Bank.  The link on this button went directly to Chases’ banking login page.  The goal of this button is to make sure your customer always has it on their desk so they can quickly and easily navigate to your website.  This is great for brand awareness because it is always right there in front of your customer.  It also is a product that is innovative and different – it’s not an item that everyone may already have like a coffee mug or pen.


Overall, I gained a stronger appreciation for the impact promotional products have on business.  While some may always label them as “cheap hotchkes“, that you just need to hand out at trade shows, I do think they serve a greater purpose for supporting marketing/branding goals.  The idea shouldn’t be to just hand out items to fill the table, but to understand what is trending.  With the right item and goal in mind, these can be very effective marketing tools.


If you would like to stay ahead of the curve or just simply need some ideas, feel free to reach out to me:  [email protected] or 317-871-3966.  You can also visit our Promo Page.


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