Although Baby Boomers dominated retail trends for decades, Millennials have officially taken over as the largest living generation and therefore the one with the most consumer clout. Their influence is felt across all categories, including beverage consumption and, as a result, drinkware. 

To fit into their fast-paced lives, drinkware needs to be multifunctional and built for mobility. Tami Wainscott, national sales manager for supplier The Allen Company (PPAI 113879), explains, “Young professionals expect to use high-quality, reliable and convertible products at work to match their home use.”

Toni May, marketing manager for distributor Fully Promoted (PPAI 240143), agrees. “Promo drinkware is also trending toward multitasking. We’re seeing a demand for high-quality, multifunctional design with multiple compartments, such as
[one] to hold a cell phone.”

Take a look at some of the shifts in the beverage and drinkware industry prompted by Millennials and the upcoming Generation Z. 

Invest In The Experience

Whether they’re downing coffee on the morning commute or tasting a flight of craft beers, today’s consumers desire products that elevate day-to-day activities to authentic experiences. In other words, instant coffee from a plain Styrofoam cup or generic beer served in a red Solo cup isn’t going to cut it.

The National Coffee Association (NCA) reports that the percentage of Americans drinking coffee on a daily basis increased from 57 percent in 2016 to 62 percent in 2017. “More of us are drinking coffee, and younger consumers appear to be leading the charge,” says Bill Murray, NCA president and CEO. “A steadily growing taste for gourmet varieties is also driving a wider trend toward specialty beverages.”

The trend toward specialty products applies to beverage across the board. Craft beers continue to rise in popularity, premium distilled spirits are enjoying a resurgence, wine lovers are giving bourbon-barrel aging a try, and specialty non-alcoholic beverages, such as handcrafted sodas, are gaining traction.

A Pitcher Of Perfect Health

The global focus on wellness, diet and exercise affects all retail categories, and most notably drinkware. As more and more people strive to get their nutrients in a convenient manner and on-the-go, juicing has become an international craze. If gulping down broccoli for breakfast doesn’t suit your taste, fruit smoothies, protein shakes or green tea are popular, less extreme options.

Melissa Ralston, marketing vice president at supplier BIC Graphic (PPAI 114187), says, “Fitness is more than a trend, it’s a lifestyle. As health and wellness awareness has increased, so too has the variety of products to support it. We carry shaker bottles, athlete’s bottles and vacuum-insulated drinkware to keep drinks cold through the whole workout.”

Green Is The Word

With the rise of conscious consumerism, merchandise that is non-toxic and environmentally friendly is a must. Reusable drinkware reduces the consumption of single-use plastic water bottles and provides a healthier alternative.

For 2018, May predicts, “Trends will continue to follow the consumer demand for environmentally-friendly products like reusable water bottles. The future will bring design changes to the stainless-steel bottles that are clearly still very popular. Look for black and rose gold with engraved logos as an elegant piece that you can bring nearly anywhere.”

In addition, consumers are looking to reduce their carbon footprint by purchasing local products. Local craft beers and wines are gaining popularity, as are locally sourced spirits, coffee, tea and juices.

Make It Your Own

In our society today, there is a cultural shift away from conformity and toward the adoption of individuality and creativity.

For example, the wine industry took note over the past several years as customers dismissed the historic snobbery toward rosé wine, transforming it from passé to chic. Another out-of-the-box idea was the hot-weather invention of the wine slushy—a modern concoction of ice, fruit and wine mixed in a blender.

New restaurant and bar concepts celebrating originality are also cropping up. Drink, a modern underground speakeasy in Boston’s seaport district, is fast becoming one of the most popular bars in the city—but you have to find it first. Hidden in a basement without signage, the only indication that it exists is the number of beautiful people entering this nondescript building and lining up on the narrow stairway. If you’re lucky enough to get in, don’t bother asking for the drink menu. You are assigned a bartender who asks you about your tastes, and then he creates a custom cocktail just for you. 

Just as important as the unique drinks is the glassware in which they are served. Presentation is everything, and customers want their drinkware to be as much of a reflection of their personality as the beverages they are consuming. 

And don’t even think about skimping on quality. May explains, “Customers are asking for higher-end products since end users are keeping logoed products longer than in the past. Clients want to give away something that will be more of a keepsake, with long-lasting quality.”

So now if someone asks you, “What are you carrying?” they may not be talking about your designer bag—they’re probably admiring your drinkware.


What’s Bubbling Up

BIC Graphic Marketing Vice President Melissa Ralston gave PPB a sneak peek at the top five drinkware trends for 2018.

  1. Popular retail brands such as Bubba®, pubWAREand O2COOL® crossing over into the promotional products market.
  2. Vacuum insulation technology, which keeps drinks at the perfect temperature—hot or cold.
  3. Can/bottle coolers with new materials, styles and functionality. For example, KOOZIE ® will soon introduce a leather-like can/bottle cooler with a premium textured finish and a can/bottle cooler that changes color with the touch of a warm hand.
  4. Fitness-inspired designs to keep the user hydrated and well-nourished.
  5. Full-color imprints—to take drinkware to the next level with the appeal of more sophisticated graphics.

“Beyond the five key trends described above, we have also identified the upcoming trend of marble, wood and gradient/ombre finishes,” says Ralston. “These new finishes are starting to gain in popularity and will continue to grow next year.”


Celebrities And Their Drinkware

Over the past couple of years, celebs have been flocking admirably to the eco-cause craze of reusable water bottles, trying to do their part in reducing the over 200 billion plastic bottles that are dumped into landfill sites each year. Whether it’s on the yoga mat, walking the boulevard and or strolling back from the gym with hair stylishly disheveled, no celeb worth their Twitter following would dare to be caught in disposable plastic this year.

So it’s no wonder a brand will pay hugely for an Instagram or Pinterest endorsement from one of these uber-influencers. It’s a practice that has hit a fevered peak over the past few years. But the ensuing popularity of these bottles allows manufacturers to charge a premium for their wares. This has certainly opened up an opportunity in the promotional products world, with the retail-inspired versions of the bottles shipping at less than half the cost. Drinkware has been the industry’s hottest growth category for a couple of seasons now, and there doesn’t seem to be an end in sight.

It’s dovetailing perfectly with the corporate health and wellness trend, too. Glass and stainless steel water bottles are shipping out in droves to fill company-store shelves, with employees snapping them up as quickly as they appear. Fabulous new full-color decorating techniques and classic standards like laser-etch engraving are making them look good doing it. The connection someone has with their daily drinkware piece is truly a personal one—a great thing for quality and value of the branding impression ROI. And for promotional products, that kind of cachet is akin to a red carpet appearance at the Oscars. —Daniel Baker, marketing manager, Debco Solutions (PPAI 317015)

As published in Wellth magazine, June 2017,


Case Studies

3D Is The Key
When the Wurth Group was looking for unique items to commemorate the celebration of its 45th year in business, the company approached its promotional products distributor with an idea in mind. Wurth wanted to incorporate a new logo that communicated the anniversary as well as the range of products that Wurth manufactures—and the company wanted it printed in 3D on a quality drinkware item.

Since Wurth is one of the top suppliers of automotive fasteners, electrical supplies, chemicals and hardware, the logo depicted a large array of the products the company sells. As a result, capturing the detail in the logo was of utmost importance. The distributor approached supplier Clearmount to see if it could meet the challenge.

Kate Plummer, Clearmount vice president, says, “When you do 3D printing, some details and fine lines can be lost. The process is complicated, as it involves printing layers of white ink.  Any problem with the bottle or printer means the registration is off and the white will show through.”

Clearmount recommended the SIGG Hot & Cold Bottle with the ONE lid, and dove into the detail so that everything from the threads in the lightbulb to the springs on the windshield wipers could be seen on the imprint.

The client was thrilled with the end product, and the job went from a small initiative for Wurth executives to an employee recognition program of over 2,000 pieces.

Source: Clearmount Plastics Limited

Ingenius Ice Breaker
According to the National Institutes of Health, falls are the No. 1 cause of fractures, trauma, loss of independence and death by injury among older adults. During the cold weather season, many of these accidents are the result of icy steps and walks. 

A hospital’s trauma department wanted to introduce an easy-to-use tool to help seniors reduce their risk of falls during the winter months. American Solutions for Business (ASB) worked with the hospital’s trauma department and identified several options for water bottles with an easy-pour spout that could be repurposed to hold rock salt. The bottle needed to be small enough for seniors to handle easily, yet large enough to hold a useful amount of salt. The hospital evaluated the options  and selected a bottle that fit the need and brand standards. 

Although the expense was minimal, the finished product helps protect the health
of elderly community members, reflecting favorably on the hospital’s brand. The solution also helped to solidify ASB as a go-to partner for creative problem solving.

For individual products, please visit our flipbook.

Terry Ramsay is associate editor of PPB.