Blog Contributor photo   EILISH LEMIEUX | January 27, 2022 • 6 min read

What’s New? Promotional Industry Trends for 2022

Without a crystal ball, it’s hard to say exactly what 2022 will bring. However, a global pandemic has taught us a few things and given us some insight into what industry trends are here to stay and still to come.

In order to keep pace with upcoming trends, it’s important to not only know what is happening but why they are happening. Trends typically don’t work in silos; they are linked – even interwoven – with each other to the extent that sometimes they seamlessly overlap.

There is a big shift coming in terms of workforce demographics. In 2020 millennials (those born between 1981-1996) comprised just 28 percent of the workforce. But, by 2024, they will make up about 75 percent! With this generational change in the workforce comes new values, new interests, and new expectations.

Trends in the promotional industry are significant to both your customers and to their customers, so it’s essential we pay attention to what’s relevant and try to develop ideas, brands, and products that are not just needed but valued by customers. For the sake of keeping things concise and clear, this blog will focus on five hot promotional industry trends in 2022.

Tech-celeration

To say technology is critical to our everyday lives is an understatement. It makes onerous undertakings easy, helps us remember things, it just takes time-consuming tasks and simplifies them. But, we’ve got to keep up with its ever-changing progress, as advancements in tech are moving at a pace we’ve never seen before. Moore’s Law used to be considered the accepted observation for how quickly existing technology is replaced (every two years) but it’s now considered out-of-date. Technology is infused into our everyday objects in ways we may not even think about – entertainment, connection, moving, and making purchases. As well, where the line between our personal and digital lives was razor-thin pre-pandemic, it will be fully circular by 2024 thanks to mobile capabilities.

That’s why it’s crucial to pay attention to the importance of mobile optimization as, increasingly, much of online website purchases and traffic are coming from mobile devices. Making websites more mobile-friendly is an ongoing task and there are many ways to do it. Voice search is becoming more popular in 2022 and websites that ensure they can be used through voice commands will be rewarded with more traffic. Using chatbots and virtual assistants is an efficient and immediate way to answer customers’ questions. Similarly, virtual and augmented reality are becoming increasingly popular ways to highlight new products and allow customers to explore them without leaving their homes. Technology is getting more and more innovative at micro-targeting potential audiences for organizations based on specific demographics (purchase history, gender, age, location). Micro-targeting allows companies to truly personalize each customers’ experience.

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Holistic health

This is the idea that companies are embracing programs, benefits, and products that benefit all aspects of human health – physical, spiritual, and mental. Pre-pandemic, there was much attention paid to physical health. COVID-19 taught us that it’s equally important to keep our minds, our bodies, and our spirits healthy too. The wellness industry is a trillion-dollar industry and this move to a holistic health system is only continuing to gain importance. There is a growing realization that companies that offer wellness programs are not only boosting their productivity but are also more likely to attract talent in a competitive job market.

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Values-driven products

It used to be that companies developed ideas, products, and programs that were either inspirational, motivational, or educational (hopefully all three). Now, these products also need to be values-driven – aligning with customers’ values. Eco-friendly options are not just a trend but are actually a major shift in both thinking and in lifestyle changes. There is a growing realization that what is good for us is also good for the earth and, conversely, what is good for the earth is good for us.

More and more people are thinking about sustainable solutions. A 2021 report by MasterCard found that a majority of people believe it’s now more important for companies to behave in more sustainable and eco-friendly ways.

And, corporations are responding. They are making changes and letting their customers know that they truly care about these issues. Examples include partnering with brands that are environmentally friendly and working towards a change, creating products that are durable and well-designed to negate having to replace them. They are using recycled products, sourcing organic and locally made goods, and switching to ocean-friendly or Forest Stewardship Council certified commodities. This switch to higher-quality and aesthetically appealing products that reach customers more profoundly requires the industry to do lots of homework and choose their products and partnerships very carefully. More and more, customers are seeking deeper emotional connections from the brands and products they support. Customers will always choose brands, products, and companies based on need, but more and more they are also demanding these needs be met in a way that also aligns with their values.

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image illustrates flawed copywriting that may affect your brand image

Brand Cachet

goes a step further than brand awareness. While the latter implies familiarity with a particular brand, brand cachet implies an indication of approval, even prestige, associated with a particular brand. You don’t just want people to be acquainted with your brand, you want your brand to be thought of in a highly esteemed way! How does one achieve that, you ask. Well, back to one of the earliest points in this blog, you need to remember that trends are linked – they don’t exist in silos. So, armed with that information, a company would do well to remember giving customers what they need and want in ways that match their values is a great way to develop brand cachet. While no company can be all things to all customers there are things it can do to appeal to greater masses of people.

image illustrates flawed copywriting that may affect your brand image

Whether it’s moving to eco-friendly products, investing in small local businesses, supporting holistic health programs in the office, highlighting your fun and energetic workplace, investing in and staying ahead technologically, there are many ways to increase your brand’s cachet. Perhaps find influencers who will showcase your brand. Think of it as an addition (not a replacement) to traditional forms of marketing. Influencer marketing typically has higher engagement rates, particularly among certain demographics. New customers may tune into an influencer more than they would a commercial. COVID changed the way we gather so create hybrid events with mixed audiences using virtual or augmented reality to launch a product or open a new store. A cool immersive event would certainly get people talking. Staying current and paying attention to trends are crucial to adding to your company’s brand cachet.

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SWAG boxes and SWAG bags

People have always loved getting free stuff and that will never change. What is changing is the level of thought and sophistication that goes into creating SWAG items. While not a new trend per se, swag boxes and bags are increasing in popularity due to the ability to add cool, customized, and branded items. Companies love the array of options available – boxes, bags, price points, sizes, colours, decorations, packaging – and that’s just the box or bag itself.

When it comes to what goes into the SWAG bag or box, the sky’s the limit. Items can complement your own brand or events, they can include hashtags and other specific messaging, they can be pre-curated or specially chosen. Gift selections would vary by price point and could include promotional pens and notepads, branded clothing or hats, local specialty products like jams and cheeses, or even technology gifts – think branded headphones, iPads, or speakers. SWAG boxes and bags are trending because they are fun, they are innovative, they are creative, and, most of all, they are appreciated! Additionally, their ability to arrive at your recipients’ front door, office, or remote location makes them the preferred product to assist you in engaging with your target audience.

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Creating tailored content geared to your customers’ needs has always been the best strategy for building trust with your target audience. Understanding upcoming trends and using them to your advantage just gets you closer to that goal.

Lastly, do you need ideas or information related to any of the trends discussed in this blog? To start a strategic discovery of how you can use these trends to grow your business, please contact us at hello@acreativeagency.ca or visit our website at www.acreativeagency.ca

Blog Contributor - Eilish Lemieux photo

EILISH LEMIEUX  |  Eilish is a self-professed “word nerd” with more than two decades of experience writing and editing for government, non-profits, and small and large businesses. Eilish honed her craft working in Communications for sixteen years at the Government of Alberta, the Alberta Teachers’ Association, and the Legislative Assembly of Alberta before starting her own writing and editing company doing work for different organizations including JumpDemand, Enbridge, the Government of Alberta, S. Pointe Art Consultants, and Detroit Tool and Engineering. Are you interested in seeing how Eilish can help you with copywriting? Email her today at eilish@acreativeagency.ca

ABOUT CREATIVE  |  CREATIVE is a leading FULL-SERVICE Marketing Agency that works with organizations across Canada that require effective BRAND STORYTELLING. Our boutique agency specializes in Digital Marketing, Promotional Products, Company Stores & Employee Programs & best of all, our experienced Virtual Marketing Assistants are at YOUR service! These services include Social Media Marketing, Website Design & SEO (Search Engine Optimization), Email Marketing, SEM (Search Engine Marketing) – Paid Media Advertising, Live or Virtual Event Planning, Content Creation (brochures, catalogues, websites, blogs, social media posts and more), Graphic Design & Branding or ANY marketing task or project management from our team of experts. For over 45 years our team at CREATIVE has been ensuring that every client’s unique brand vision is accurately relayed to the people who matter the most. For more information go to www.acreativeagency.ca or dial 780-988-0015. We make CREATIVE ideas succeed!