Editor's Picks: We Came. We Saw.
 We Liked!

The PPAI Expo is the promotional products industry’s undisputed launch point every year. It’s where trends are spotlighted and the “oohs and ahs” of discovering new and distinctive products reverberate as an unmistakable hum across the show floor.

From PPAI’s first trade show in 1914 through decades at Chicago’s Palmer House and the show’s 26-year run at the Dallas Convention Center to its 18th show at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas this past January, The PPAI Expo is the industry’s foremost showcase for the latest and greatest in product innovations.

Covering the sold-out show floor teeming with more than 1,220 exhibiting companies is next to impossible but the PPB team spotted six clear trends among the thousands of product introductions at the PPAI Expo 2020.


Most large and medium-sized exhibitors introduced a new product in this category—clearly a trend in high demand among consumers. From products crafted of sustainable materials to those that can be recycled, it was a vast market of choices for distributors in search of eco-friendly ideas. And even better were those products where their purchase included a charitable donation—another huge trend seen at the Expo.

This 10-ounce Wheat Cup is made of wheat straw polypropylene so it’s biodegradable, sustainable and renewable—and it’s microwave safe. Comprised of 20- to 30-percent wheat stock, the manufacturing process uses less plastic and petroleum, and this cup will last for many years yet degrade in about a year in a landfill. Available in pink, green, natural and blue, this cup is part of a collection of wheat products that includes a larger cup and mug, utensils, a lunch box, lip balm, a straw set, a keychain set and a combo straw/keychain set.

The Webb Company  /  PPAI 143213, S8   /  www.webbcompany.com


If you’ve ever struggled to open a single-use plastic produce bag while juggling a handful of apples or seen a discarded bag whipped against a fence by the wind, the value of the easy-open, reusable Lotus Produce Bag makes perfect sense. It’s also washable, lightweight, BPA free and breathable. It comes in three sizes to fit everything from a few limes to an extra-large head of lettuce.

Lotus Trolley Bag  /  PPAI 762810, S1  /  lotustrolleybag.com


The Parkland Kingston Plus is a stylish 15-inch computer backpack designed with sustainability in mind. The exterior is made with 100-percent recycled water bottles and through a partnership with 1% for the Planet, one percent of sales from this and all EcoSmart products will be donated to nonprofits dedicated to protecting the planet.

Leed’s  /  PPAI 112361, S13  /  www.leedsworld.com


As long as consumers are tied to technology, products that keep their devices safe, secure and handy will remain among top introductions. What made news this year are tech products with multi-use functionality.

The T-BONE delivers three-in-one functionality as a car charger with two USB ports to charge two devices simultaneously, a high-capacity rechargeable power bank and a LED torch flashlight. Its patented design also easily recharges while plugged into a car's cigarette lighter or any 12-volt socket, so you never have to look for a power outlet.

Schatzii  /  PPAI 709091, S1  /  www.schatzii.com


Morph virtually any phone/case into a multi-function branding powerhouse with the Scooch Wingback. This four-in-one accessory lays flat until snapped into use and turns the simplest phone case into a phone stand, a secure grip or a vent mount, and it is magnetic-mount ready. It’s compatible with any phone or case and works in portrait or landscape orientation. Available with a full-color UV imprint or full-color custom backer card.

Toddy Gear  /  PPAI 516677, S6  /  www.toddypromo.com


The Socket Lock-It is a card holder and phone grip holder in one. The card holder adheres securely to the phone back or case and is designed with a slot in which the phone grip holder (not included) slides and locks securely. Together, this U.S.A.-made invention marries two of the best and most popular phone accessories.

Socket Lock-It  /  PPAI 780845, S2  /  www.socketlockit.com


Keep cords and small gear organized while traveling with this handy KAPSTON Jaxon Tech Organizer. It features a main zippered compartment, a front zippered pocket, interior card slots and elastic straps to help keep items tidy. Elevated details like the leatherette zipper pulls and KAPSTON rivets add to the trendy look of this latest addition to the Jaxon Collection.

BIC Graphic NA  /  PPAI 114187, S13  /  www.bicgraphic.com


Top-quality materials and sleek designs elevate commonly used products to something extra special in the recipients’ mind.

This large rectangular acacia wood cheese board with a green marble insert makes a striking dinner presentation for cheeses, meats, appetizers or desserts. The hidden slide storage drawer stores three full-size, artisan, hammered cheese knives. The carbonized-finished acacia wood and earth tone marble adds elegance and grace to this gift.

Picnic Plus by Spectrum  /  PPAI 240870, S4  /  www.picnicpromo.com


Its clean lines and rainbow of available colors makes this 25-ounce H2go Cable Bottle a showstopper. It features single-wall construction with a threaded lid, stainless steel accent and braided wire carrying loop. Shown in fuchsia and also available in red, orange, pear, aqua, blue, purple, clear and graphite.

ETS Express  /  PPAI 135148, S11  /  www.etsexpress.com


Custom, lightweight and compact, this line of luggage lets users showcase their individual style and promote a brand when traveling for corporate getaways, off-site meetings or any reason. The personalized cover is printed on high-quality canvas and applied to the inside of the suitcase so it can’t be scratched or scuffed. And the cover can be easily replaced as needed. Choose a cabin carry-on, medium or large suitcase all made from polycarbonate and diamond-debossed ABS hard-shell materials with an internal alloy telescopic handle, side-mounted TSA locks and state-of-the-art, 360-degree wheels. The three pieces also nest inside each other for easy storage in the provided polypropylene dust storage cover.

Personalized Luggage, Inc.  /  PPAI 775899, S1  /  www.personalizedluggage.com


Handcrafted in top-grain leather with a fold-over, double-wrap closure, the Soft Binder is pliable yet durable and versatile. Its 1-1/2-inch rings will accommodate hole-punched 8-1/2-inch-by-11-inch sheets and any standard-sized binder accessory. Available in nine rich colors with optional laser-engraved personalization.

Rustico  /  PPAI 260879, S5  /  www.rustico.com


Tasty treats and bits and bites make up another trend spotted on the show floor this year. From sweet to savory and everything in between, suppliers exhibited some mouth-watering ideas in food gifts.

The Dirty Cookie takes a simple snack of cookies and milk to a whole new level. It’s a chewy and delicious 1.5-ounce shot glass-shaped cookie that can be filled with a favorite drink for a wonderful sip and bite experience. Made fresh weekly and shipped frozen via three-day transit, the cookies have a shelf life of three weeks from the ship date at room temperature. Available in Cookies & Cream or Chocolate Chip with Ghirardelli chips. Add a logo or message in full color digital print on the icing label.

Logomark  /  PPAI 110898, S12  /   www.logomark.com


This tasty gift is sure to be remembered by recipients. The 4 Piece Sweet Box Gift Set starts with a full-color band on the lid that opens to reveal four acrylic cubes filled with an assortment of saltwater taffy, Jelly Belly candies, chocolate buttons and fruit sours.

Chocolate Inn/Taylor & Grant/Lanco  /  PPAI 111662, S7  /  www.chocolateinn.com


Caring for one’s self is essential before being able to care for others—thus the continued popularity of products that soothe the body as well as the soul.

This new Lip Butter is formulated to feel fabulous—shea and cocoa butters are blended to be ultra-moisturizing, nourishing and longer-lasting. Inspired by beauty counters and released in both best-selling and nationally trending flavors.

Raining Rose   /   PPAI 232508, S7  /   www.rainingrosepromos.com


Finding peace and reducing stress are keys to a better life. Meditation and exercise are two ways to accomplish these; the Positivity Pod is another. Each pod includes five wooden dice with unique phrases to help you push past stress and increase productivity. Throw the dice and look for the phrase that stands out. Both the pod and the dice are customizable to your recipient.

ColorStrike/Liquid Technologies  /  PPAI 200720, S2  /  www.colorstrike.com


Dedicated to women with an active, water-based lifestyle, the Costa Waterwoman Sunglasses feature a narrow-fitting, large frame with beautifully-angled temples, polarized lenses and seamlessly integrated Hydrolite accents. Elegant and strong, these shades are designed like the women who rock them.

Incentive Concepts  /  PPAI 212912, S10  /  www.incentiveconcepts.com


Outdoor living is enjoying its highest popularity in a while with more people than ever camping, tailgating, barbecuing, picnicking and participating in other alfresco activities year-round. But even when away from the luxuries of a modern kitchen, they want the ease and convenience to which they are accustomed.

The Igloo Seadrift Coast Cooler holds 36 cans and features MaxCold insulation with 25 percent more foam to keep drinks and food cooler longer. The leak-resistant, antimicrobial liner is easy to clean and there’s top-hatch access plus a dual-zippered opening to the main compartment and several pockets for additional storage. Use the adjustable, removable shoulder strap with shoulder pad for easy carrying. Available in white/grey.


Gemline   /   PPAI 113948, S11  /  www.gemline.com


Get your clients outside for some sun and fresh air—and take along this Pro Vision Round Beach Towel. Its generous 60 inches offer plenty of coverage with a hemmed polyester front, cotton terry back and full-color, edge-to-edge imprint.

Pro Towels  /  PPAI 112755, S10  /  www.protowels.com


Tina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB.

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