All through 2020, brands found new ways to connect to their customers and employees; specifically, the merchandise they delivered into their homes. As such, 2020 was our biggest year for brand merchandise. With everyone engaging in social distancing and quarantine, we’ve been focused on making the experience of brand merchandise a more holistic and enjoyable one. People couldn’t exactly collect their merchandise at SWAG tables and events, so we brought the experience to our clients’ audiences as best we could—starting with the box itself. With full-color branding, creative packaging, colorful custom tissue paper, and included various cards with QR codes. We’ve found that special custom packaging extends the gifting experience beyond the actual contents of the box. The very act of unboxing merchandise has become a delight during a time of uncertainty and a climate in flux.

With a combined 30 years of experience, ADVOC8’s brand merch team understands that personal, useful brand merchandise is what most people are looking for. Seeing as how packages and mail are now a leading source of connection between brands and consumers, our out of the box thinking ensures our merchandise is surprising and novel, so as to combat ‘Gift Box Fatigue’. On the whole, people appreciate merchandise that is catered to them, things that are useful in everyday life, like water bottles, ‘selfie lights’ for online and remote meetings, and even personal protective equipment like masks and hand sanitizer. As such, our entire merch, warehouse, and fulfillment teams have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic to bring these little joys into people’s homes and home offices; from creative production all the way to their front doors.

Consumers are also more cognizant of where their merchandise is coming from, and who they are supporting with it. With the push to buy local and support small businesses, it is important to buyers that they purchase from companies that align with their own values—supporting Black-owned businesses, eco-friendly businesses, and businesses with sustainable partners is more important now than ever.

In the same vein, showing appreciation for employees via internal gifting is trending in a big way. It was a very hard year for everyone, whether working remotely or on the front lines, and gathering employees together for parties and appreciation events wasn’t possible. As such, many companies compensated for that by sending merchandise to their employees personally.

A similar shift will need to be taken into account as we move back into the office. What do people need? What brings them joy and connection during times of fluctuation? Moving forward, this kind of fluid thinking will keep companies current with the changing needs of their brand supporters. With quarantines lifting and human contact now a safe certainty for many, the unboxing experience has to stay current and accessible for all, especially now that we can incorporate these unboxing experiences into in-person events. We found a lot that we like about unboxing little presents in 2020, and we’re looking forward to bringing that back with us to our events and SWAG tables far into the future.