A time traveler from the ’90s would feel right at home these days. Retailers are hawking Friends-inspired merch – like the “Pivot” hoodie at Target, inspired from the iconic couch-moving scene in the 25-year-old sitcom – and fanny packs are cool again. Need further evidence? That once-ubiquitous hair accessory, the humble scrunchy, is back with a vengeance.
“Nostalgia has a strong pull, and we’ve seen the cyclical patterns of ‘what was old is new’ pop back up a number of times,” says Jesse Gray, marketing director at Pop! Promos (asi/45657). “But the lure of the scrunchy is also that it’s a fun, and useful, piece of promo that brands have found their customers wanting.”
Fabric-covered elastics are a big hit with the teen and early 20s crowd, Gray and other suppliers say. In fact, scrunchies are part of the unofficial uniform (along with Hydro Flask brand water bottles) of the latest flavor of Instagram influencer, the VSCO girl. “It seems the resurgence is real and here to stay,” says Karen Slabotsky of Martini-Vispak (asi/93987).
Schools and universities are a natural fit for scrunchy-centered promotions. “Tap into the school spirit,” Gray says. He suggests pairing branded scrunchies with items teens and college students view as valuable promos, such as drawstring bags and silicone sticky wallets for phones. “These are items that when bundled together make for great opportunities that will actually get their customers those valuable brand impressions they want from effective promo items,” Gray adds.
Other possibilities for scrunchy sales include dance studios, spas, camps, sports teams and gymnastics clubs, Slabotsky says. Scrunchies have also been popular with restaurants, according to Jonathan Shapiro of Harstan Ties & Accessories (asi/60080), whether for servers to wear or as giveaways.
Another winning sales strategy, Slabotsky says, is to position a branded scrunchy as a “gift with purchase” for makeup and skincare brands. “Who doesn’t tie their hair back when washing their face?” she asks.
Lest you fear that scrunchy styles are stuck in the ’90s, Kim Fisher, owner of Quashies (asi/80127), assures us that there are many fresh versions of the stretchy staple. Quashies, for example, is releasing a “double ruffle” scrunchy soon. Most suppliers that offer scrunchies have the ability to do full-color custom prints on the fabric. Consider also branding add-ons like a woven tag or custom hang tags, Gray says. “Our most popular option is the scrunchie packaging tree, which is a full-color packaging option that holds three scrunchies together for a retail-ready piece,” he says.