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Predictions for The Year Ahead

Every December, ASI’s holiday party is highlighted by Chairman Norman Cohn’s crystal ball predictions. He traditionally warns that Philly sports teams will continue to be lousy, forecasts economic and stock market gains, and optimistically predicts a mild winter in the Northeast.

Channeling my inner Norman, here are six predictions for 2016. I’ll look forward to you reminding me how I did at this time next year.

1-Mobile buying will become the norm. Have you noticed anything different about cell phones lately? Sure, they’re thinner, but they’re also bigger. Cell phone makers are realizing that younger generations are talking less on their phones and surfing the Web more. I’ll say mobile phones will be used for 40% of all online purchases in 2016.

2-Fantasy sports will keep surging. Even with daily sites like FanDuel and DraftKings under regulatory scrutiny, fantasy sports are more popular than ever. More than 51 million Americans played fantasy sports games this year and that number could easily jump another 20% in 2016. I’ve long believed there’s intriguing potential for promo products in the fantasy market, especially as bars and restaurants try to attract draft parties.      

3-There will be two women on presidential tickets. Hillary Clinton will win her party’s nomination and will face GOP Senator Marco Rubio in November. Rubio’s running mate will no doubt be a woman, likely Kelly Ayotte, Nikki Haley or Susana Martinez. There will be an uptick in women’s pride, offering an avenue for related logoed items.

4-Ad specialty companies will embrace wearable tech. Industry suppliers have been cautious about wading into high-end wearable waters, fearing end-buyers will balk at the price. But I’ll argue the market opportunity is just too great for caution to win out. A rise in wellness programs will only spur demand. Fitness trackers are already in the promo market, but the choices in this category will grow rapidly next year. Smart shirts that measure body metrics will be next.

5-Drones will make deliveries. The Federal Aviation Administration hasn’t given the go-ahead yet, but it will. Watch for drones to deliver products in rural areas first, but metropolitan drops are coming soon. Frankly, Amazon is spending too much money on drone prototypes for this not to happen.

6-Interest rates will hold. The only person in the world who’d blame Fed Chair Janet Yellen for raising rates too soon is Janet Yellen. She’s the ultimate dove. The Fed will raise rates only once in 2016, with a key rationale being tepid inflation.