Product Categories

The Top 100 ESP search terms are divided here into 14 product categories and displayed with their Top 100 rank. The size of the icons corresponds with the number of searches for each product relative to the most popular search term in all of ESP (which in 2020 was masks).


Even though (prior to 2020) T-shirts were the biggest-selling item in promo, they historically have finished lower than other products in ESP searches. The reason? Most distributors know where to find T-shirts outside of ESP, as opposed to other product categories.

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Bags have the second-most search terms in the Top 20 with a total of four (bags, tote bags, backpacks and coolers). Only drinkware has more.

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Desk & Paper Products

With employees working from home and the surge in kitting and at-home drop-shipping, custom boxes are on the rise.

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This remains a hot category and it shows in the ranks. No other category has more search terms (17 in total), or more in the Top 25 (six total search terms: mugs, water bottles, tumblers, bottles, Yeti and Koozie).

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Caps and hats are always popular items. Bandannas and gaiters? They surged in 2020 with the increased demand for face coverings.

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Health (Non-PPE)

Thermometers, touchless openers and other medical items all jumped last year, making this a popular and trending category.

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Who doesn’t enjoy a good blanket? With employees quarantining at home, blankets (which ranked 22nd overall) were a popular gift this past holiday season.

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Customization has been a noticeable trend for a number of years in the promo industry, and even as budgets disappeared last year, the demand for custom products (ranking 13th overall) remained strong.

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No trade shows? No problem. Demand remained for lanyards, which can be used in a number of ways, from keytags for uniformed personnel to mask accessories.

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On the backs of huge sales of masks and sanitizer, PPE accounted for nearly 30% of all products sold last year – a total of $6 billion. The lingering question: How will PPE sales shape up in 2021?

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Signs & Display

While affected by the lack of trade shows, sales of signage thrived in retail, corporate and medical settings with the need to reinforce social distancing protocols.

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At-home fitness was a huge trend in 2020, and is poised to continue rising this year as gyms struggle to stay open.

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Don’t sound the death knell for the USB flash drive just yet; it remains a Top 25 search term, defying notions that the product is antiquated.

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Writing Instruments

Pen sales were suppressed in the spring, but you can’t keep one of promo’s biggest categories down forever. The perennial favorite rebounded in the second half of 2020 and was nearly the equal in searches to sanitizer (the number-two item).

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Information gathered from:

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