2010 Top Trends

Looking at the trends for 2010, you may get the feeling that you’ve been here before. That would be because you have, seeing as many of the upcoming trends are reincarnations of things from the past.

Bringing back familiar in an unstable time, many companies are going for the classics — from retro looks to movie remakes and sequels — in hopes of rekindling that spark for sales. But even with the old sneaking in, there are still a few new things on the horizon, so buckle your seatbelt and head on in to the Top Trends for 2010.

Whether it’s the fabulously awful big hair, tacky clothing or the unforgettable music, it seems that the ’80s have become a fabulous decade to recreate.

Yes, everything old is new again and a lot of trends from the ’80s are finding themselves firmly entrenched in pop culture today. Expect to see bright colors and a continued interest in generational parties from the ’70s and ’80s.

“Retro is an influence on modern fashion that spills onto the Halloween design, and current demands and trends are driving the market,” said Warren Burkowitz from Forum Novelties. “The nostalgia of Michael Jackson and the success of Broadway shows such as Mama Mia have all made retro a trend again.”

And this is good news for retailers, as it’s not just Halloween having all the retail success. Retro themes are great for class reunions, retirement parties, anniversary parties or birthday parties — just about anything — which means year round sales.

Awesome, dude.

Borrowed Times
With an unstable economy, it’s no surprise that people are a bit more hesitant to make the same purchases they may have made a few years ago. Often the excitement of a new costume is overshadowed by the practicality of paying for something they might only wear once, for example. And when it comes to prime party products, how many people really own a cotton candy machine or a helium tank?

The solution? Rentals.

“The most important motivation for this trend is cost reduction, but there are also other reasons,” said Clinton Patterson, director at erento, an online rental marketplace. “By renting instead of buying, consumers have the flexibility to change the product each time they use it and they don’t have to worry about maintenance or depreciation.”

Many people also view renting as a more sustainable and environmentally friendly approach to consumption, as they are sharing products they don’t often use. Furthermore, renting gives everyone the opportunity to experience almost anything — no matter how luxurious.

“We’re seeing such an increasingly diverse array of products and services available for rent,” Patterson said, “which hopefully means every party is different!”

Targeted Age Groups
From those under the spell of Harry Potter to those over the hill, retail is about knowing your consumer and how to target their interests. As the biggest population boom of the 20th century moves through their 40, 50 and 60 birthdays, expect strong sales in the adult birthday categories. While black will still be popular, many retailers report customers are opting to add a bright splash of color to the decor.

As for those still “under” the hill, so to speak? They’re another group to keep a sharp eye on. In fact, Jayne O’Donnell, author and reporter for USA Today, said today’s tweens, teens and twentysomethings “were the least likely to cut back spending after the onset of the 2008 recession.”

So how many of them are there and how can you lure them in?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, tweens — that group of kids roughly between the ages of eight to 12 — will number about 20 million in 2009, and are projected to reach nearly 23 million by 2020. And to broaden that a bit, Generation Yers — that group born from 1978 through 2000 — will number close to 84 million.

And according to O’Donnell, they like attention, Web sites with overnight or second-day shipping (quick service), limited edition items and products that resonate with them. What they don’t want is heavy-handed advertising. They know what they want and they want it right now.

In other words, if you build the window display, they will come — especially if it involves a license they recognize.

License To Sell
It’s been said before, but it has to be said again — anything making it big on the screen will make it big in your store. From costumes and wearables to plates and balloons, licensed product will continue to exert its influence on the party industry in 2010.

In fact, according to the 2009 Party & Paper Annual Survey results, licensed products make up 53.8 percent of our readers product mix.

“Licensed character balloons offer the greatest opportunity to get the sale from a broad range of customers,” said Robin Oxley of Anagram Intl. “2010 will provide retailers with a year full of opportunities to leverage licensed character events, movies releases and celebrations from a few of the all-time favorite/evergreen characters.”

Write On
Even in our technologically driven society, greeting cards and stationery remain important tools for communication and sales. New innovations for 2010 will remind consumers that it can be much more than a letter or card, but rather an experience.

When it comes to stationery, Sarah Schwartz, editor of Stationery Trends, shared that in terms of design, she’s seeing a lot of traditional motifs — e.g. brocade, quatrefoils — updated via color to create fresh presentations for a 21st century audience.

“Product, regardless of category, should have an element of utility to it,” Schwartz said. “In this digital-driven age slowed down by a recession, traditional correspondence has never been more helpful to job-seekers or simply those seeking to enjoy the simple pleasures in life — connecting with an old friend, writing down one’s thoughts, thanking a colleague and so on.”

And cards can be just as utile as stationery, as new cards with sound, lights and interactive elements hit the shelves. For example, American Greetings has launched a new line of multi-sensory greeting cards with lights and audio and Swing Cards come ready assembled and open out to form 3D shapes. Retailers can take this opportunity to market them not only as a card, but also as a collectible.

What a Bride Wants
Times are tough and many brides want their bachelorette parties to be focused on affordable fun and friends. Jill Meister of shared that brides are asking for invites and themes that bring out the fun girlfriend side of the party—little black dress themed, champagne and strawberries themed—and that they’re seeing lots of black, white and hot pinks for decor and party favors.

When it comes to the big day, retailers should carry invitations in a variety of price points and styles. And whether the couple has a small budget or wants something designed specifically for them, there are a few things to keep in mind.

“A few colors emerging are
teal, coral, vintage purple and sky blue,” said Brenda Boyer of Carlson Craft. “Popular color combos are still black/white and black/ecru, but a few color combinations for 2010 are emerald and cream, mauve and wine, lilac and sky blue, wine and blush pink, sky blue and light yellow, mocha and blush pink, platinum warm gray and any pink/coral or blue/purple tones, olive and mauve pink and mint and vintage purple.”

In addition to their budget-priced invitations, they’ve also seen increased demand for four-color invitations, ensembles with ribbon adornment and pockets to hold all the pieces of the ensemble.

“Pocket folders that hold the invitation and other cards will continue to gain in popularity,” she continued. “In response, Carlson Craft is adding lavender (the biggest requested color for backer cards), spice, sky, bronze and pewter pockets, as well as more four-color items that include a color photo of the couple.”

All About Me
When it comes to gifts, favors and even balloons, make it personal. While a journal or pen make thoughtful offerings, adding a name or initials to the mix add in that personal touch that can set it apart. As independent retailers, you have the opportunity to focus on things that big-box retailers and mass merchants are unable to offer, such as personalization and service.

“Personalized products are a fantastic way to differentiate from big-box stores,” said Dana Schleicher of Palm Tree Paperie. “A gift that is customized with a name or monogram adds value in the eyes of both the giver and the receiver. Take it a step further and make your store known for fast its fast personalization service.

“Today, we live in a world that thrives on instant gratification,” she continued, “so speak to that desire. If your store personalizes stationery in-house, perhaps you can guarantee a two-day

Originally posted Tuesday, Dec. 1, 2009