While it’s definitely winter here in Chicago, the outlook (and weather!) was warm and sunny for the ASI (Advertising Specialty Institute) Show in Orlando which was filled with some hot promotional product ideas for 2012. I was a speaker for the Education Program, speaking on using public relations, social media and multimedia for promotional products distribution businesses. Here’s a video of my interview with ASI’s Chris Ruvo and a quick public relations tip:
Opening day of the ASI Orlando tradeshow saw crowded aisles. Always a good sign! And ASI President Tim Andrews announced at one of the functions that the industry had grown to $18.5 billion, up from 6.2% from 2010. Also good news.
Here are some of the new trends and ideas I spotted. (And, yes, the alligator and toy stories follow… you gotta learn something first, okay?)
- More Emphasis on Made in the USA – Noticed that the standard booth signs provided by the show had identifiers for those suppliers who were offering made in the USA promotions. This was very helpful. As well, since the show found it important enough to take this extra step and expense (logo was in color imprint), that is a good indicator of what is happening in the market. With my emphasis on USA made products, you can bet I was glad to see this.
- Tech Gadgets that Aren’t Tech – I saw a number of tech-related gadgets and gizmos, but they weren’t actually tech themselves. Mostly it was items that could be used in conjunction with tech toys such as cell phone skins, handy accessories for cleaning or maintaining electronics, ear buds, etc. Seeing less calculators and the like. It’s obvious why. Our smartphones have assumed the duties of so many tech items, having additional items to do these functions has become obsolete. Some of these new tech-friendly items are scheduled to launch early spring 2012. We will be featuring some of them along with ideas for using in future posts. So stay tuned.
- The Green Scene… or Not Seen – While there were a number of booths that prominently featured greener promotional product options, there were far fewer than in the past couple of years. You can either be discouraged or encouraged by this. You can be discouraged because the economy seems to have impacted the forward progress of the green movement. Or you can be encouraged because a number of the green initiatives are now standards including product offerings that are BPA-free, recyclable, durable and reusable, biodegradable, or are more socially compliant (e.g. made in the USA and/or with fair labor). I saw many examples of all of these initiatives throughout the show floor.
- No Magnetic Force – Sure magnets are still around. But I saw more products that could be applied to surfaces with repositionable and removable adhesives. Quite some time back I discussed this trend in my post Promotional Products We’ll Be Laughing at in 50 Years (or Less). Expect this trend to get even more traction going forward.
- Refill, Reuse, Refill – One of the hottest items featured by almost all the major suppliers were those insulated reusable takeout tumblers, similar to those you can buy at Starbucks-type restaurants. We’ve been carrying them for a while on our USAandUnionMadePromoShop.com site. Many of them are dishwasher safe (thank God!) and are a greener promotional product selection since they can be used and reused over and over again. While standard water bottles (whether plastic or aluminum) will still be useful or preferred in some settings, these are so much more convenient for today’s working or mobile lifestyle. I’ve always found it difficult to enjoy a cold drink from a standard travel tumbler and keep my eyes on the road. It’s the straw access that makes them useful.
And some additional fun highlights from the show…
It’s Slinky®! – One of the legendary toy products of the 20th century was the Slinky®. The simple, yet addictive, metal spring toy was invented by Richard James in 1945 and met with wild success. At the show, I got to meet Richard James’ son, Tom. Tom is actually part of the Slinky legend. How? He’s the one who discovered “it walks down stairs.”
You’ll be glad to know that genuine Slinky® toys, imprinted with your logo and in a cool retro box, are made in the USA (always have been). Plus, they’re made of 90% recycled steel. They are available by special order from the USAandUnionMadePromoShop.com.
You might also be interested in licensed Slinky® adhesive notepads that we’ve recommended to our clients for a couple years now.
And, now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for, the pic of me with Willy the Alligator from Gatorland…
Plus, I was glad to catch up with Branndon Stewart from Promo Labs at the show. Promo Labs is the sponsor of the Industry Voices award. I was honored to have them name me to their 2012 Industry Voices honorees. Thanks, Promo Labs!
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