Promotional products are various products used to promote or advertise organizations. Common promotional products include t-shirts, pens, stickers, silicone wristbands, etc. These products are often printed with the organizations logo or decoration and then used as giveaways, gifts and sometimes merchandise. Different decoration methods include digital print, embroidery, dye sublimation, engraving and more. Promotional products fit into different categories such as wearables, writing instruments, drinkware, bags, computer products and many more. The organizations that utilize promotional products extend far beyond just companies and include universities, athletics, non profits, etc.
The most common use for promo products is brand awareness, in which the goal is to increase overall customer loyalty. There are many fun products that help companies achieve this and also many creative ways to apply a logo on items. Brand awareness accounts for 14.43% of all promotional promotional product uses.
Following brand awareness is business gifts which accounts for 11.72% of the usage. There are many creative gifts such as logo cookies and branded gift baskets that are popular in this area. A business gift, however, can be something as small as a pen. It doesn’t have to cost much to be effective.
Trade Shows account for 10.03% of promotional product usage. Every tradeshow, convention or conference has vendors that uses promo items as a tool to increase both sales and branding.
More uses broken down by category:
- Employee Relation and Events – 9.68%
- Dealer / Distributor Programs – 8.07%
- New Customer Retention – 7.27%
- Employee Service Awards – 5.99%
- Internal Promotions 5.95%
- New Product – 5.71%
- Non Profit Programs – 5.27%
- Public Relations – 4.99%
- Safety Education – 3.83%
- Customer Referral – 3.75%
- Marketing Research – 1.04%
- Other – 2.29%
Although there are plenty of uses it can be argued that any and all promotional materials are used for brand awareness – both internally and externally – to vendors, employees and customers.
According to the PPAI, the promotional products industry did $20,042,228,931 in 2014, which was up from $19,826,873,723 in 2013. Of those sales 30.62% came from wearable products, 8.99% from writing instruments, 7.63% from drinkware and 7.45% from bags.
Sales Breakdown of Previous Years:
Effect on Consumer Behavior
- 7 in 10 consumers recalled receiving at least one promotional product in the past 12 months.
- Recall of the advertiser and message behind promotional products recalled are very high. 88% recalled the advertiser from a promo product received in the past 12 months. This speaks volumes about what promotional products can do for your branding efforts.
- The 4 most common industries recalled as giving promotional products are financial services, retailers, apparel brands and electronics manufacturers
- 8 in 10 consumers own between one and ten promotional products, six in ten keep them for up to two years.
- The main reason for keeping a promotional product is usefulness
- 54% of promotional products are kept at home.
- Before receiving the promotional products, about half of the consumers had done business with the advertiser.
In 2002 Kathleen H. Gruben, PH.D. came out with a comprehensive examination of loyalty between distributors and end-buyers of promotional products. A few key takeaways from the research are:
- Most purchasers of promo items are more loyal to their sales representative than they are to their company. This is not much of a surprise given the amount of contact they have with the sales representative.
- There are seven dimensions when it comes to developing customer loyalty within the market.
- Operating Procedures
- Expected Technology
- Service Offerings
- Service Performance
- Loyalty to the Rep
- Loyalty to the Firm
- The biggest errors made in the industry have to do with inventory management and turn around time, so it is essential that you set the right expectations.
Internal and External Usage of Promotional Products
It can be said that most custom promotional goods (especially giveaways) are bought by companies for either internal or external usage.
Internal giveaways for team and vendor happiness
Making the purchase of branded items to giveaway to your employees or as a gift to your suppliers is what is known as the internal usage of promotional products. When people talk about having a vision or strategy within a company they often leave a couple very important things out: energy and fun. Items that have your organizations logo on them will inject fun into your meetings and events like you wouldn’t believe. There are many creative ideas out there, you don’t just have to go with a t shirt or a pen. Giving out these items out, however, is not just a matter of fun. It does one of the most important things you can possibly do – give employees a sense of meaning and the feeling like they are a part of something. Is your company being represented properly by its internal promo items?
External giveaways for sales and customers loyalty
Whereas internal items are used for improving the inner workings of your internal branding, external promo giveaways are used to generate brand recognition and most importantly – more sales. Just like you want good employee retention you also need good customer retention and externally giving out promotional goods does that for you. Especially when you do it in creative ways. Key events such as product launches, trade shows and conventions are the type of places you can really prove yourself.
- Promotional Products Association International
- Advertising Specialty Institute
- Promota (UK)
- British Promotional Merchandise Association(UK)
More Resources on Promotional Products
- What is Swag and Why You Need It
- The Influence Of Promotional Products On Consumer Behavior
This study looks at how promotional products are used to support companies in their business growth efforts. The study has been conducted in 1999, 2004, and 2012.
- Released June 2012: A Study Of Writing Instruments In U.S. Households
An look at writing instrument usage (pens, pencils), purchasing habits and an in-depth look at effectiveness of pens as a promotional vehicle.
- Education and Promotional Products
- Released December 2011: High End, Low End: Which Promotional Products Work Best?
A look at consumers and promotion buyers preferences for promotional products in four representative price ranges.
- Released March 2011: A Study Of Calendar Usage In The Workplace
An in‐depth look at the usage of calendars in the U.S. workplace, particularly the use of advertising calendars.
- Released December 2010: A Study Of Calendar Usage In U.S. Households
An examination of calendar usage, purchasing habits and an in-depth look at advertising calendars.
- December 2009: Effectiveness Of Promotional Products As An Ad Medium
Consumers’ recall of advertisers and messaging on promotional products.
- Released December 2009: Why End Buyers Choose Promotional Products And Other Media:
Buyers’ purchasing habits and rating of various advertising media.
- December 2009: Promotional Products And Other Media-How The Media Compare On Reach, Recall And Reaction
A study that compares consumers’ reach, recall and reaction to advertising via several media.
- 2009: Promotional Products-Launching Brand Innovations To Market
The use of promotional products in launching a new branded product and service.
- 2007: Promotional Products-The Key Ingredient To Integrated Marketing
How promotional products, print and television impact consumer perception.
- 2005: Promotional Products: Impact, Exposure and Influence. A Survey of Business Travelers At DFW Airport
Research reveals the power of promotional products by measuring how end users respond to organizations that use promotional products as part of their marketing mix.
- 2005: Promotional Products Impact On Brand And Company Image
Astute business people seek methods to enhance brand image.
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