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Translating Consumer Needs Into Solutions

Vicki Ostrom, SanMar’s Trend Editor, joined REBOUND-20 to show how current industry trends can provide creative solutions for customers in today’s market. Vicki’s wealth of knowledge in trend forecasting, combined with her strong industry knowledge, helped her deliver an incredibly insightful and educational session.

The WGSN Macro Forecast Team made a 2021 trend prediction in late 2018, more than a year before the beginning of the pandemic,”The concept of home as a space for self-improvement, self-care and community will be a growing market…driven by the need for calm and comfort.” Interestingly, that line of thinking has been accelerated due to COVID-19 and we are already seeing those trends emerge. Coming out of the pandemic, consumer behavior will shift toward demanding higher-value products on a lower budget, with specific qualities like ease of use, safety and durability.

Vicki broke trends down into four categories based on the basic needs of consumers: collect, nourish, experience and protect. Focusing specifically on collect, consumers were beginning to put a greater emphasis on their life at home even prior to COVID-19. Well-being is a big focus, whether it’s through prioritizing sleep, gathering with friends, filling your space with plants or doing at-home workouts. The protect category centers around taking care of the environment through less water usage, attention to air quality and reducing the environmental impact of supply chains. Products that protect from the outdoor elements, such as rain, cold weather, or UV rays, will be big moving forward.

Looking at style trends, Vicki highlights several key categories including transseasonal wear and biz-leisure style. Transseasonal clothing items make the transition between seasons more smooth and don’t require an expansive wardrobe to piece together outfits. These items are neutral in tone and can be easily layered, depending on the season. Biz-leisure style has been showing up as an alternative approach to work-from-home wear. The increase in remote work has prompted this shift, with biz-leisure style as a hybrid between business casual and traditional athleisure. Clothing in this category pairs athletic wear, like joggers, with more business-appropriate pieces, such as a blazer or woven shirt.

Vicki enlightened us on current and emerging trends, while providing examples of patterns in consumer behavior to back up those predictions. Learning about trends from a basic-needs standpoint is a great frame of reference to apply to promotional products, especially with consumers on tighter budgets searching for products that bring them the highest value.