About a year ago we believed we could go back to “normal” once the global Covid-19 pandemic was over. Now we are living in times of economic insecurity and prolonged uncertainty, it seems we need to start planning and reshaping the ways our companies function to adjust to the “permanent pandemic”.

The good news is that, as many countries are starting to relax their restrictions, business is finally gaining momentum and orders are picking up. The excitement around traditional promotional gifts is growing. At the same time, the interest in personal protective equipment (PPE) is spiraling down – even if there is still high demand.

However, the newly emerged trends in the promotional industry will definitely outlive the pandemic. Here is a list of the most relevant ones.

1. Reinvent and restructure

In the light of the pandemic, most companies were forced to delay plans, reinvent their business models, launch new products and restructure their advertising campaigns. The way to stay connected with their clients was to provide them with free but useful content, to bring them value, and to gain their trust.

Content marketing was their most successful tool. It gave them a strategic advantage that crushed their competitors who were still lingering in the shadows trying to figure out how to deal with the crisis.

Providing information that is on-point will continue to engage those who will stay with you for the long run. The more flexible companies are going to be the ones who will adapt to changing customer behaviors more easily in the future as well. A step forward is to rethink the newsletters that you are sending out. Your general approach should be focused on your customers, not on the products you are trying to sell.

2. Focus on your existing customers

We all know that it is much easier to encourage an existing client to buy your new products or use your services than it is to chase potential new clients. So existing clients should be on your priority list. It is their opinion you should care about. They are the ones that truly matter.

Moreover, if you are struggling to bring new customers, it is always best to try to find new ways to address the needs of your old clients. And even if you have had bad loyalty experiences during the pandemic, remember the famous saying by Bill Gates – your most unhappy customers are your greatest source of learning.

Keep in mind that users expect action not only from their government and peers but also the brands they buy from. The companies that are interested only in sales, rather than in understanding the pains and concerns of their clients, will be the ones called out. Explore what it is that your clients really care about, but at the same time stay true to your mission and vision. Last but not least, make it easier for them to reach you online, especially now that many physical shops and office spaces – probably yours as well – are closed.

3. Traditional merchandise vs. PPE

Despite the phenomenal success of PPE and hygiene kits and masks at the beginning of the pandemic, demand is switching back in favor of T-shirts and socks. When it comes to creating promotional events and giveaways – even though they are now mostly happening virtually – companies are now reverting to traditional merchandise products.

The only difference is, that after seeing the impact of the pandemic on the environment in terms of fewer C0₂ emissions, many businesses are now focusing on promoting their businesses with sustainable promo gifts like upcycled, bamboo, and organic cotton socks. There is a new trend emerging – apparel for the promotional market has to have a bit of a lifestyle vibe, as opposed to only being branded with a company logo.

4. Creative garment packaging

People are still very cautious about the conditions in which the goods they receive are packed. However, most companies still don’t recognize the importance of packaging, believing they will win their customers simply by providing them with well-designed goods. It isn’t that good design is not important (it is essential), but it needs to involve the customers’ concerns with the process and it should extend to the quality of packaging.

At Kingly, instead of launching products on a whim, we ask what our clients want. That is how we decided to use self-seal compostable bags for our steam-cleaned socks, and even add Polygiene textile treatment to maximize the antibacterial effect which reduces odor. Moreover, we provide creative garment packaging options that include packing socks in tins and T-shirts in cans. That is how we made sure that all of our merchandise products were fully protected, and our clients won’t need to worry about anything. Our socks in cans and T-shirts in tins instantly became a hit on the promotional scene, and are still creating some mystery around corporate gifts.

5. Fulfillment services and time-limited offers

It is never a bad idea to experiment with some time-limited offers to attract attention. Discounts and giveaways are options that can stimulate customers so they will invest their time and interest in you. Also, it is a good idea to take advantage of fulfillment services that deliver your customized T-shirts and socks in tins directly to their doorstep.

People are always fascinated with the companies that try to make their lives better – especially if it is a solution that they have never expected. Once you’ve made a positive impression, it is easier to build brand loyalty. So be bold: step out of your comfort zone and unleash your creativity.  Start by creating real excitement around your products.

In a time of uncertainty, brands need to step up their game in order to gain a strategic advantage. The more flexible they are and the more they adapt to the changing needs and behaviors of their customers, the more successful they will be, even with difficulties unrelated to the pandemic. It seems the trends we thought were just temporary are here to stay. And that is not necessarily a bad thing. Because every challenge presents new opportunities and perspectives.

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