Trends, Products & Insights From the Biggest Promo Event of the Year


Every January the biggest promotional products trade show takes place in Las Vegas. It’s the spot to go to find out what’s new, trendy and what changes have made their way to the industry. It’s how we at Rightsleeve, gain inspiration and source new ideas to stay forward thinking.


Straight from the convention runways, here are some of this year's upcoming promo trends.

Self Care Items


Last year 72% of millennial women made self-care their new year’s resolution. So, it also wasn’t surprising when Pinterest revealed one of their top searches of 2018 was “self care”. While the wellness industry has flourished, it's still been an emerging category in promo. Expect products like lotions, aromatherapy, bath and spa items to become big in swag. Not only do they present a fun brand experience, but leave a lasting and useful impact on the recipient.

Assembling a kit is a convenient way of delivering self care items. There's so much opportunity to be creative and mix and match items. We're kind of big fans of kitting, and made this similar themed,

"take care kit".


Self care can also be about making more conscious choices with the products you select. Sometimes treating yourself also means treating the environment.


Take this vegan-friendly, cruelty-free, biodegradable toothbrush for example. Is that not self care to a new level? It's not going anywhere either. The global natural and organic market is expected to

grow 11.1% during 2018-2026.

 These aren't your ordinary bath bombs, they're CBD bath bombs. So you can take relaxing to the max.Cannabidiol has been a buzzworthy ingredient over the last year. It has been infused into food, drinks and more rapidly, beauty items.In combining the trends of CBD and self care items does that make this the ultimate trend? Either way, we love that our industry has embraced this!

A New Wave of Colours

It appears as though the Pantone colour of the year held some influence! This year, we see things shifting away from stark, limited "promo colours" and are being replaced by softer, muted tones.


 From beautiful pinks and purples to subtle greens and oranges, the options are there. These totes (see image) are a gorgeous golden yellow and soft pink. Those are colours we couldn't have imaged in our wildest dreams becoming available.All the more reason to experiment with colour OR have more options to match your signature brand colours.

Retail Detail

We hear it a lot, "I'd like something that looks retail", but what does this mean? Sometimes, it's just a matter of wanting a brand name. A lot of the time it's their way of politely saying "not that shitty promo stuff." We get it, the industry can be a little behind in design and style, but there are actually a lot of Promo people out there changing the game.


Manufacturers and vendors are starting to create purposeful, meaningful and "retail-inspired" collections.

For example, OrigAudio manufactures lifestyle accessories. They combine vintage-inspired design with modern functionalities. Not only are their collections well designed and branded, but of high quality as well. This gives it that retail feel that people are searching for.

Brand names are often sought after, and we've certainly noticed a lot more of them available to the promo industry.

Timbuk2 is a well-known lifestyle brand from San Francisco. They started exclusively as a bike messenger bags brand. Now they make backpacks, totes and more. They have retail stores all over the globe, including here in Toronto. These are quality bags that are fully brandable and customizable!


These super cute, mini backpacks are very retail-inspired. If you've been shopping recently, or just take a look around what people are sporting, you may have noticed the shrinking bags. It's been a fashion staple for some time, and the promo industry recognizes that.

Desktop Items

Move aside, pen cup! There are new desktop items in town. Seriously though, there are a lot of cool products we discovered that can spruce up your desk and break up the monotony of the usual suspects. We spend around 8 hours at our desk each day anyway so why not make it more fun. Introducing something like these as part of a welcome package is definitely a conversation starter!


Can't take care of a cactus of your own? Well, you can pretend while also stashing a bunch of your precious items in the base.

If you are responsible and can take care of a plant, a concrete planter/holder is actually perfect for you. It's modern it's functional - lookout desk!

Move Over S'well


The S’well bottle started a cultural phenomenon by becoming a bit of a fashion statement. Thanks to S'well, drinkware became sexy and cool. However, the S'well conversation has certainly calmed down with more people looking for what's new in drinkware. With brands like Camelbak, Nalgene and Arctic Zone, there are still a lot of brand name players in this landscape. Finding the right bottle for you comes down to size, design and purpose.What's most important is that by using a reusable bottle, you are cutting down on plastic waste and decreasing your carbon footprint! 



Something we noticed at the show was a lot of brands that have embraced reusing materials to make a brand new product, otherwise known as upcycling.  As a sustainable solution that re-imagines waste, and gives it a new purpose, that makes for a great story and a great product. Here are some of the brands putting that into practice.



Parkland is the sister company to Herschel, making quality bags out of recycled bottles. It takes 12 bottles to make one bag! Check out the process here.

Refresh Glass


Refresh Glass are devoted to repurposing discarded wine bottles. From this, they create glasses, candles, carafes and more. So far they've rescued over 1 millon bottles!


Record Remix

After receiving recycled vinyl records from stores, dealers and collectors they transform them into functioning products. Records are given a new life in the form of journals, bowls and coasters.


Our industry has an interesting reputation. There is often a stigma surrounding it and the “landfill waste” it produces. A few months ago, Fast Company released an article that outlined the harsh realities of the promo industry.  We agreed with that point of view and believe in sourcing high-quality, sustainable products. Yes, there is a call for more responsibility and less waste in the industry. Yes, there does need to be more transparency in the manufacturing process. Over time there have been more and more vendors, suppliers and industry pros out there who have been "doing some good".



Helping Hand Partner’s is a Chicago based non-profit that employs at risk or marginalized workers. HHP works with social enterprises, local charities and fair trade organizations to distribute unique artisan goods like luxury bath items and gourmet foods. They’re creating both socially responsible products and opportunities for underserved communities. 


is a sustainable clothing and accessories company. They use eco-friendly materials like organic cotton and hemp. Their manufacturing is both ethical and transparent. They donate 1% of their retail sales to environmental organizations that work on restoring and helping our planet.  

OOWEE Products

They make sustainable beverage accessories from metal, wood and leather. It’s all manufactured responsibly in North Carolina. They partner with a local Autism society to provide jobs for those on the spectrum, who experience limited options. OOWEE Products stands for a livable wage for all employees and currently have four individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder working with them.


PromoCares shares the stories of suppliers and distributors making a positive difference through corporate social responsibility initiatives. They are a connector in the industry, trying to inspire the industry to hold a meaningful standard. Check out some of the stories here.

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