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How To Incorporate Trends in Promo—Without That Fleeting Feeling

From fidget spinners to retro 90s fanny packs, the promo marketing space has seen its fair share of trends over the years. While we’re all for trends, chasing the latest and greatest TikTok fads gets old, fast. Not to mention the additional expense of purchasing promotional items that quickly go out of style. 

So, how can you leverage trends without falling prey to the time-sensitive nature of fads? It’s all about mastering the art of blending the “now” with the “timeless.” In this guide, we’ll show you how to balance trendiness and lasting appeal, helping your brand transcend fleeting feelings and create enduring Brand Love moments. 


The Key to Trends? Longevity

Trends are patterns of behavior, style, or interest that gain popularity for a period of time. They usually reflect bigger societal shifts, like technological advancements or shifting consumer preferences. Trends can also come from anywhere, from the local news to fashion week to (of course) social media. 

Trends are undeniably alluring. They’re a snapshot of what captivates the public’s imagination at any moment. When you tap into these trends with promotional products, you garner attention and create a sense of immediacy and relevance. Nice, right? 

Not quite. The flip side of trends is obsolescence. Today’s trend can quickly become yawn-worthy in a few weeks. The key is to make the most of current trends while ensuring your items remain appealing and relevant long after the trend fades. This way, you tap into the current interest around the promotional product but won’t have a closet full of outdated items after the trend dies down.

Six Tips for Expiration-Free Promo

Leaning too far into trends risks short-lived relevance, but ignoring them altogether will make your brand look out of touch. Follow these tips to infuse your promotional products with the right touch of trendiness for enduring appeal—without the headaches of going out of style.

1. Pick the Right Trends for Your Brand

Not all trends will be a fit for your business. Perhaps your brand is more about "quiet luxury" than it will ever be about "cottagecore" or "yeehaw core." The best way to avoid passing fads is to identify the trends and promotional products that make sense for your business. Do a little research before hopping on the bandwagon, learning more through: 

  • Audience research: Understand your audience’s preferences, lifestyle, and values. That means you need demographic data plus insights into their behaviors, interests, and what they value in a brand. You’re more likely to get better mileage from a trend if you pick one that resonates with these values.
  • Data and analytics: Data from Google Analytics will tell you a lot about consumer preferences. You can also check your social media analytics to see what content and trends your audience follows. 
  • Market research: You shouldn’t copy other brands, but seeing what your competitors are doing is helpful. Which trends do they follow and why? Is the approach working for them?

We get that you can’t conduct full-blown academic research every time a trend comes roaring around the corner. Instead, have this research and market data ready so you can quickly decide which trends you’ll follow and which you’ll sit out. 


2. Be Sustainable

The trend toward eco-friendly and sustainable products isn’t just a niche interest anymore. In fact, this can hardly be classified as a trend anymore - it's a lifestyle. Mainstream consumers want to see eco-friendly products. Since this timeless concept is only gaining more importance in consumer choices, it’s a great promotional product strategy. 

Incorporate sustainable materials like recycled plastic, organic cotton, bamboo, and biodegradable materials into your products. Eco-friendly packaging and buying from carbon-neutral manufacturers are also easy ways to be sustainable.

3. Leverage Technology

This is tricky because technology changes so frequently. However, tech gives you more touchpoints and data, boosting return on investment and deepening customer relationships.

Customers’ preferences change over time, so it’s best to use adaptable technology in your promotional products. For example, scannable QR codes are an easy way to link physical products to digital experiences. Use adaptable QR codes that allow you to change the destination URL. This setup allows the same physical product to deliver fresh content, prolonging its lifespan and relevance. You can also use NFC (or near-field communication) for an easy mobile experience; recipients can simply tap their phone on a product to engage with a URL. These NFC-enabled shirts are one of the newest applications of this expanding technology!

4. Keep it Balanced

It’s tempting to use funky patterns and trending looks to turn more heads on the expo hall floor, but sometimes less is more if you want timeless promo products. Simple, clean designs make promo items look both modern and timeless. Unlike designs that rely heavily on current trends, minimalist products or intentional collections have a longer shelf life in terms of style and appeal. 

Be purposeful with color choices, too. Pastels, neon colors, and other out-there choices might be trending right now, but there are ways to pair these trending colorways with your brand colors or safe neutrals to keep it balanced. See how we suggest using some trending colors with corporate colors here. White, black, silver, or dark navy are safe go-to's when creating a collection with a trending color pop.


5. Tap Into Nostalgia

Why worry about future trends when you can focus on proven trends from the past? Nostalgia is a powerful marketing tool because it leverages strong memories of the past. Integrate retro themes into your promo products to evoke a sense of comfort and familiarity without worrying so much about current trends. 

Intentionally outdated products, like retro 80s handheld video games, are unique and will certainly get your audience talking. However, choose nostalgia from the right time period for your target audience. For example, Gen Z consumers weren’t around in the 1980s, so you’re better off focusing on early 2000s nostalgia for this audience. 

6. Measure Your Impact

Trends are a great way to get consumers excited about promo, but you still need proof that these styles work for your brand. The best way to choose future-proof promotional products is to analyze past campaign performance and decide if you should continue this approach for future campaigns.

Trend-Proof Your Business, the Boundless Way

Trends can be tricky, but the rewards of following new styles and ideas often outweigh the risks. You have to master the nuances of selecting the right trends that capture your audience’s attention and offer lasting value. If you pick the right trends, you’ll stay relevant in a changing market while resonating more deeply with your audience. 

Trending promotional products require a lot of research and optimization, not to mention time and resources. Partner with Boundless to thoughtfully leverage trends without the growing pains. See how we transform trends into engaging promotional campaigns that create Brand Love.

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