Promotional Product Trends throughout the Years

Year after year, our top selling promotional products include pens, tote bags, apparel, and water bottles. But alongside the timeless classics, there are some products that become extremely popular for a short amount of time and then they are forgotten.

Top promotional product categories

Now that’s not to say that your promotional mix should only include products that stand the test of time. Not at all. According to the Advertising Speciality Institute, the average lifespan of a promotional product is about a year, which is plenty of time to capitalize on the current trends.

Our best-selling product in 2021 was a promotional mask. With the uncertainty that goes along with a global pandemic, we don’t really know if masks will join our list of classic products, or in a couple of years, we will have forgotten how popular they were.

Top 5 Best-Selling Promotional Products of 2021

That’s the thing about a trend, some, like power banks or wireless speakers, enter into the market and stay there, while others go the way of the Ben & Jerry’s flavor graveyard.

As we end the year, we thought we’d pay tribute to some of the promotional products that were once extremely beloved, but whose popularity has waned throughout the years. Maybe they’ll come back as retro one day, you never know.

1. Plastic Wristbands

The plastic wristband dates back to the early 2000s when Nike came up with the ubiquitous yellow wristband as a fundraising item for Lance Armstrong’s Livestrong Foundation. It was based on the color of Armstrong’s yellow jersey. While the actual Livestrong Bracelet benefited cancer survivors, other charities and organizations took notice of the trend and made their own wristbands.

The fad lost momentum quickly in 2012/2013 when the news of Lance Armstrong’s doping scandal broke. Nike quickly removed their logo from the product, and plastic wristbands became a thing of the past.

2. Clip-on Pedometers

A healthy employee is a productive employee and increasing the number of steps you take is an easy way to increase your general health. Pedometers can provide a clear way of seeing exactly how many steps you’ve taken in a given day. The traditional pedometer was worn on the waistband of your pants and manually counted the number of times your hips moved up and down. Wellness-focused companies and employers often had contests to see who took the most steps. It was a fun way to focus on health.

While counting your daily steps is still something a lot of people do, the device they use is different now. When the iPhone was launched in 2010, along came digital apps that could track a person’s steps directly on their phone. Additionally pedometers like the FitBit, which is worn like a watch, were a more attractive option, and one that could also provide more data and connect digitally to your phone.

3. Selfie Sticks

Due to the increasing popularity of social media photo sites like Instagram and Snapchat, taking a picture of yourself was no longer considered narcissistic and instead almost became an art form. In 2013, the word “selfie” was named Word of the Year by the Oxford Dictionary and added to the Merriam-Webster dictionary in 2014. 

However actually taking a picture of yourself required rather long arms. The Selfie Stick solved that problem by essentially becoming a tripod where the photographer attached their phone to one end of the stick, while holding onto the other. The camera’s shutter could be pressed by either a button on the handle of the stick or a separate remote.

According to the Global Selfie Stick Consumption Report, in the fall of 2014, Amazon sales of the selfie stick rose more than 300 percent. However, as they grew in popularity, they also grew in infamy. With people carrying around what amassed to large metal sticks, safety became a concern, especially in crowds. Museums, festivals, and places like Disneyland began to ban selfie sticks and their popularity began to decline. 

4. Fidget Spinners

Who can forget the fidget spinner craze? In 2017, it seemed like everyone wanted to get their hands on a fidget spinner (literally), but they were the most popular with school-aged kids. Fidget spinners were lauded as a way to help control boredom and provide stress relief. Some claimed that they could help ADHD, though that was never scientifically proven.  

Since they were primarily marketed towards children, safety became a concern with many cheap knockoff products on the market that presented a choking hazard. Additionally, instead of helping with concentration, fidget spinners became a major distraction.

Want to see what’s currently on trend? Check out our New & Trending page for all the latest fads. 

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