Chicago Conference Recap: 2023 Branded Merchandise Trends

mstrack bubbleWritten by Michael Strack
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Last month we jetted off to the Windy City because we figured it couldn’t possibly be hotter there than it was here. And also to attend a conference exploring branded merchandise trends, but mostly the former. And we were right! Even if only slightly. But I digress…

It was a great opportunity to explore the city, catch up on industry trends, network with other branded merchandise distributors, and most importantly, hunt down all the new products for YOU!

I am happy to report that we were successful on all fronts. We have put together a slideshow on this page of all the best items we came across, as well as a digital showroom of everything that can be shopped here.

Fans of the great city of Chicago, or the tv show The Bear in particular, might find a couple easter eggs hidden among the slideshow, too!

Some key trends from the show:

  • Everybody and their mama has released a knock-off Stanley tumbler.
  • Focus on sustainability: Across the board, we saw an emphasis on ‘going green’ from most suppliers – recycled or sustainably sourced raw materials or some type of give-back program tied to the environment.
  • Apparel: Wow, so much apparel! From dye-sublimation to new heat-transfer techniques to crazy cool embossing, apparel is huge right now. Which leads me to:
  • Junk in, junk out: Led by consumer trends, most suppliers are trending away from ‘cheap’, throwaway items and leaning more into products that will stand the test of time. Not only does this reflect better on your brand, but it also drastically increases the length time that your brand is top-of-mind. Examples: Kitchenware, towels, soft coolers, etc.

Our Chicago trip will quickly become a distant memory. Hopefully, the crazy hot weather will soon be gone as well!

In the meantime,  let us assist you in finding the right products that will last and help you remain top of mind for your audience. Let’s Market Smarter!