“Swag” or “Stuff We All Get” are literally the freebies that companies giveaway as a means of promoting their brand. So yes, they are those pesky pens, note pads, tote bags, hoodies, jackets, USBs, folders with plastered on corporate logos and eye-roll inducing mottos. In 2020, we predict that the content of swag will change. Expect to receive no more of those useless items (phew!), or at least fewer of them, in favour of “greener” and more sustainable versions of corporate gifts as companies finally realise the environmental impact generated from these often landfilled useless promo items, and the fact that most people just don’t care for them anymore.
The practice originated in the .com era, where companies used these branded pens, drinkware, tees, bags, cups and whatnot as promotional mechanisms – and it became pretty widespread over the years. According to a 2019 study by the Advertising Specialty Institute, the average household in the United States has around 30 of these items, testament to how ubiquitous swag has gotten. Much of it has been driven by the tech sector, who use swag as a way to take up your desk space with a tangible, physical product – something that their actual digital product lines don’t really offer.
But as people have become more wary about the environmental footprint across all aspects of their daily lives, including these promotional gimmicks, corporations now have to change tack. Even the manufacturers are concerned – the ultimate swag item that’s meant to symbolise a spenny company, the Patagonia jacket, is no longer stitching on corporate logos except for companies that will “prioritise the planet,” the brand announced in April this year. Given these goodie bags are meant to be a physical embodiment of what companies are about, it doesn’t exactly look great if your corporation’s logo ends up on a plastic frisbee that gets tossed in a landfill.
Realising it’s pretty irresponsible to keep handing out USBs that never get used and logoed sweaters that get tossed in a landfill, goodie bags in 2020 will contain less useless crap and more personalised, eco-friendly things. So Branded Fruit is now a thing, even though it started out as a joke, according to the startup founder Danielle Baskin. The business now prints company names and logos on all kinds of fresh produce. Even avocados. Aside from “edible swag”, expect more things like potted indoor plants – especially the instagram-friendly succulent and non-thing alternatives like planted trees given to clients and customers on behalf of the corporate.
Lead image courtesy of Branded Fruit.