Have you taken a look at the market for promotional swag products as of late? The sector is in the midst of a massive shift that is bringing new opportunities for brands to interact with customers, to build a strong bond that will help them stand out in the market.

This week I spoke with Aiia, an international promotional products creator in the U.S., Poland and the U.K. to get insights on the promotional product trends that will lead the marketing agenda in 2017.

1. Design and quality are key.

Top companies invest heavily in powerful customer experiences to keep product fans coming back. Promotional products play a significant role in this mix. But the modern customer is increasingly hard to impress. Low-quality or ill-conceived gifts will not thrive. Instead, unique design and high quality are coming into their own.

How to harness this trend? Invest in high-end and unique ideas such as an endless puzzle or a unique high-end digital frame to hold the attention of customers, which will naturally lead to increased mind and market share for your brand.

2. Mobile apps will change the way people and companies use promo gifts.

High-quality promotional gifts will be increasingly bundled with companion smartphone apps. The crux of this trend is the opportunity for brands to use engaging and useful content to interact with customers long after the point of product giveaway. Select promo products with mobile app extensions and you will gain hundreds of opportunities to interact with target customers. As an example, consider a smart Bluetooth finder to keep track of items such as your keys.

3. Smart promo products are taking off in a big way.

The number of people who use smart devices--fitness trackers, smart speakers, connected gadgets for the home, work and pets--has grown dramatically. The majority of customers will soon (or may already) prefer smart gadgets as gifts. This trend is finally becoming affordable enough from a production point of view to be a viable gift at less than $20 per piece. To make your next brand campaign a real success in 2017, invest in smart devices to win your modern customer's health while also winning over their hearts.

4. The advent of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR)

It certainly feels like Snapchat is everywhere this year. Whether sponsoring Cannes Lions Innovation, releasing new features, or taking over older generations, there's no denying this social network based on Augmented Reality is ubiquitous. The monthly active user base of Snapchat has just hit 300 million according to the company's 2016 report, making it an attractive platform for advertisers. At this point AR and VR have broken into the day-to-day life of modern customers and advertisers. As marketers, then, it's time you take advantage of these technologies to arrange truly impressive promo campaigns. For example, Aiia suggests the "Teemoji," as a unique and new augmented reality tee.

5. Consider creating promo products from scratch to highlight your brand.

The best way to communicate the essence of a brand is to create a promo product from scratch. This level of personalization produces a more unique and better user experience and deeper engagement. A shower-hanging AM/FM radio. For a dental brand, a bendable desktop figure in the shape of a tooth. A measuring tape with a built-in BMI scale. Or something nobody would throw away, such as a target zone fly swatter with your company's logo affixed at the "eye." Top brands are unafraid to create gifts that differ significantly from the generic products that customers are quick to discard.

Embrace this trend to tailor a product that will clearly communicate your message as a company that is one-of-a-kind in 2017.