The Most Popular Event Merchandise of 2016

Merchandise and promotional products are integral to the event planning process. They are used in advertising before the event, and to create a cohesive presence during the event, with uniforms, gift bags, and matching branded gift items. It is imperative, then, that event planners dedicate serious consideration to their promotional product choices. One issue faced by event planners, though, is the sheer volume of products to choose from. By assessing ongoing and annual trends, event managers and planners are able to understand what merchandise is most popular, thus significantly narrowing their options, and simplifying and expediting this process.

Think Inside or Outside the Box?
Some merchandise trends remain the same year after year, and in doing so, become promotional staples, like pens, mugs, t-shirts and bags. It won’t surprise you to know that these items are still hot sellers, and that they are still received well by the market. While these products are consistent in their popularity, there are others that peak in popularity, with definite yearly trends, prompted by new products, changes in style and design, and the ever present search for the next big thing.

Trending Directions
We’re well into 2016 now, and we’ve seen a definite leaning towards specific areas of the promotional product market this year. To give a brief breakdown, the five top trends for promotional products this year are:

  • Technology
  • Water
  • Eco-friendly
  • Festivals and Events
  • Individuality

Stand Out with Great Choices

Everyone loves tech! It is so ubiquitous in everyday life that we almost forget that it’s there. The high perceived value of tech, though, has made it a veritable boon for brand promotion. Customers love receiving items of a technological nature, not only because they are valuable, but because they are useful. The tech trend continues to get stronger year after year, and 2016 is no exception. New items are becoming available all the time, and by using these items in promotion, brands can appear to be at the forefront of development and industry.

Power banks lead the charge when it comes to promotional electronics. External battery chargers for laptops are still fairly new, so are not yet overly popular, but expect to see them become a staple in the merchandise market in the very near future. There are myriad options when it comes to adaptors and cables, and they make excellent and cost effective promotional items.

Headphones and speakers, which would normally be branded with the names of high end electronics companies, are being personalized to promote individual brands. Earbuds, especially, work well for promotion, thanks to their small size, and relative cost effectiveness.

With people spending more time than ever on their phones and tablets, accessories for these products are currently very popular. From branded lens kits to enhance phone photography, to customised covers and Bluetooth accessories, this branch of promotional products is taking off in a big way.

Water seems like a strange trend for promotions, but don’t be fooled. With 71 percent of the earth’s surface, and around 60 percent of the human body consisting of water, it should be no wonder that water has become one of the key trending products in 2016. Actually, it’s thanks to health initiatives that we now know the value of water and good hydration, and this makes water the perfect promotional medium. Ideal for functions, conferences, festivals, and events, brands are able to show their humanitarian side by giving out free bottled water (labelled with their logo and brand information, of course). This also provides a health conscious and socially responsible spin on marketing.

Drink bottles are also still extremely popular, as they provide a large surface area for branding. Added to this, they continue the mentality used with branded bottled water, in that they bring a focus to health and hydration. Water bottles are also excellent for brands that have an ethos of environmental responsibility, as they are designed to be kept and refilled.

Awareness seems to be a major driving factor in brand development at the moment, with social and political factors being key to a brand’s ethos. One way to display this, and an extremely popular way at that, is by using eco-friendly products. By using eco products for promotion, a brand aligns itself with a desire for sustainability and growth, subtly reflecting the brand’s projected business direction.

Combining many aspects of environmentalism, from reforestation to composting and recycling, eco pots are popular this year. Designed to decompose when they are planted along with their contents, customised eco pots provide a great way to show off a brand’s eco credentials.

Eco friendliness isn’t just confined to a small range of products either. There are many products that use renewable resources or recycled materials in their manufacture, including notebooks using recycled paper, or recycled leather for covers, custom cotton bags, and recycled cardboard pens and pencils, to name just a few.

Festivals and Events
Festivals and large scale events are popular in all circles of society, and the security involved in hosting them is very important. To this end, the next big trend in promotional products is clarity. Clear bags, like totes and backpacks, to be precise. Giving a security conscious option for event goers, while allowing them the freedom to keep everything contained, makes sturdy clear bags an excellent promotional product.

The final trend isn’t so much a trending product, but more a trend in products. Brands have the opportunity to establish their individuality by offering products that are unique to their requirements. Not only do brands have the ability to promote themselves through exposure of their logo and slogans, but they can also show innovation and express gratitude to clients and customers with free, unique giveaways.

Trends will always come and go, but these broad trends are likely to continue in years to come, due to their universal approach and emotional appeal. By keeping an eye on the most popular products at any given time, event planners are able to simplify the selection process for event merchandise and promotional material.



Kane Grose is an event merchandise specialist who’s passionate about branding and marketing. He works with Promotive, a specialist promotional products company that aims to change how you feel about branded merchandise. Find out more at


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