In the words of Heidi Klum, in the world of fashion, you’re in or you’re out.
Marketing isn’t so different. What we want, how we express ourselves, which messages resonate with us—all of these things change in relationship to external conditions. Fail to adapt, and you could find yourself showing up at the Met Gala in a zoot suit and saddle shoes in 2010—an embarrassing situation for everybody!
Fashion-wise, it’s hard to say what 2021 will hold. Post-vaccine, we could be heading to bars in sweatpants, Belle Epoque regalia, or anything in between. When it comes to professional life, however, the tea leaves are considerably easier to read, especially because COVID-19 had such a profound effect on workplace norms.
To maximize your promotional products strategy, be sure to stay on top of emerging trends.
Here’s what we already know about what will be en vogue next year.
Wires are so 2018—and finally, we’re free to admit that we’ve never liked them. There’s actually a whole subset of mathematics examining the tendency of wires, left to their own devices, to spontaneously form an electrically charged Gordian knot. It’s long past time to go wireless.
Wireless technologies make great promotional gifts because many people are reluctant to make the upgrade themselves: if you already own a quality pair of headphones, it can be hard to talk yourself into spending money on another version of something in which you’ve already invested.
Once you receive a wireless charger, speaker, or headphone set, however—there’s no looking back. In a year when so many things have gotten more complicated, at least we can say adieu to those pesky, gnarly, intractable webs of wire.
Just how many businesses will make WFH a permanent arrangement remains to be seen, but it’s safe to say that a number of companies will add up the cost-savings of foregoing commercial real estate and the potential benefit to employees and decide to kiss the office goodbye for good.
Even those who do eventually return to onsite work can expect that the first few months of the year will be fully remote—and can likely look forward to more flexible WFH policies as well.
Like it or not, WFH is here to stay—so if you’ve waited until now to distribute WFH essentials like mugs, headsets and earbuds, wireless mouses, and desktop chargers, you can rest assured that these WFH items will be appreciated long into the future.
They say that the way to somebody’s heart is through their stomach—but everybody knows that it’s actually through their pets.
Odds are high that you either adopted a pet during the pandemic or know somebody who did. To treat the pets in your professional community, consider gifting a soft-touch frisbee with your company logo, a box of healthy pet treats, a travel bed or carrier, or an extra leash or collar.
Business (So) Casual
Whether we’ve realized it or not, we’ve all been engaged in a redefinition of professionalism over the last few months. There was a time when being a professional meant pretending not to exist outside of the office. By now, we’ve met each other’s pets and children, become intimately familiar with at least one wall in each team member’s home, and helped support each other through a stressful, bumpy, and genuinely frightening period in our history.
With all of this experience under our belts, office culture is bound to change. If you wouldn’t have dreamed of showing up to work tieless in 2019, you might find yourself feeling differently in 2021. With work productivity remaining high during the pandemic, it’s natural to evaluate to what degree that artifice was necessary to begin with.
If you find that your team is naturally gravitating towards a more relaxed aesthetic in the months to come, use branded gear to encourage a polished, unified look that doesn’t skimp on comfort.
Fleeces embroidered with the company logo look sporty, not messy, and a puffy vest or softshell jacket reads just as expensive as a blazer—without all of the pressing, tailoring, and buttoning a suit requires. You can also order sweaters, polos, and hoodies in the company colors or bearing the company logo. Call it preppy-casual, and embrace your new corporate cool.
The “experience box” was the standout gift of 2020—and for good reason.
So much of what we missed last year was the multisensory immersion of attending a conference, a concert, a museum—and opening a high-quality branded box to reveal an array of individually wrapped and thoughtfully curated gifts (from snacks and drinks to note-taking supplies to a snazzy cork-bottomed enamel mug) comes closer than anything else to replicating that experience.
Even when social distancing is no longer a priority, we expect these boxes to remain a popular option for connecting with clients, employees, and leads while saving on travel budgets.
What Else the Future Holds
So what else does 2021 have in store? Sources say emerald green and copper interiors, elaborate bath time rituals, and approaches to work, play, and learning that center on self-care and mental health. And with vaccines currently rocketing across the country in FedEx trucks, we’re also looking forward to plenty of jubilation and some long-overdue hugs.
In the meantime, work these 2021 trends into your promotional product strategy to keep your marketing efforts relevant.