Brands often underrate promotional products whereas they are the most powerful form of advertising with the highest reach among all advertising mediums. They possess the qualities consumers value and provide success across the board in reach, recall, resonance and reaction performance metrics. In this article, we’ll explain why promotional products are important for your marketing results and give you insights on how to effectively use them in your campaigns. 


What’s the value of promotional products?

According to a 2017 study conducted by the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), promo products are considered as the most effective form of advertising across all generations. For instance, Millennials, Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and Silent Generation have all classified it as more effective than broadcast, online, print and mobile advertising mediums. But why is this ancestral advertising method so valuable?

Firstly, it’s the least avoided and best-received advertising vehicle with only 20% of people discarding promotional products. On the other hand, online video ads (68%), TV commercials (66%) and web ads (57%) are the top three most avoided advertising forms. 

Secondly, people retain for many years products they appreciate and find useful. 81% of people keep promotional products between one and five years, with men keeping them longer than women. Consequently, the longer people keep a promo item, the more impressions your brand gets. 

Moreover, promotional merchandise enhances brand resonance by transferring a favourable attitude to recipients. This emotional connection is subconsciously steering buying behaviour. Indeed, the 2015 Nielsen Consumer Neuroscience Internal Study divulges that this emotional response increases sales volume by 23%.

Lastly, promo items create high brand recall and therefore high brand awareness. According to the PPAI study, 83% of people recalled the branding from a promotional product they received and 23% recalled the messaging.


When should you give away promotional products?

Like any campaign, the reason why you are giving promotional products away is the first thing to determine. Once you’ll know the ‘why’, it will be much easier for you to define what messages and call to actions are to be associated to the promo items, and ultimately what type of products will most effectively achieve results.  Promotional merchandise can achieve many different business goals. Here are the top ten uses.

  • Brand Recognition 
  • Brand/Product Awareness 
  • Corporate Identity 
  • Public Relations & Goodwill 
  • Customer Retention & Appreciation 
  • Generate Sales & Referrals 
  • Employee Communications & Recognition 
  • New Product Introduction 
  • Motivate Behaviors & Incentive Programs 
  • New Customer Acquisition.

As you can see from the list above, the use of promotional products is not strictly for your external stakeholders. Employee gifts are very efficient in improving staff engagement. So, if you want your workforce to stay loyal and work hard for you, you should show appreciation through corporate gifting.


What to give away to who?

Once you know the objective of your promotional products, you need to define who you are going to give them away to. As showcased before, the most important thing to consider is the emotional connection they’ll create with the end-user. As a result, you need to make sure that the product matches what its recipient cares about. 

Selecting products that reflect your business is another key thing to consider. If you are trying to promote a sport-related brand, water bottles or fitness related products are good options. If you want to showcase an IT company, technology items such as USBs or power banks would better suit. 

Let’s now look at what products make the greatest impact so you can already shortlist items that you know will work. Overall, according to the 2017 PPAI study, the most sought promotional products by consumers are wearables (35.8%), drinkware (8.4%), writing (6.8%), travel (6.3%) and technology (5.6%) items. But let’s break that down further to understand what’s appealing to consumers.


1. Kitchen related products

Items such as reusable grocery tote bags, mugs, oven mitts or timers have the longest lifespan as people don’t throw them away because of their utility even if they got them for free. 

Among these items, the tote bag is the most popular and effective, with 5,700 more impressions generated than any other promotional items. Keep in mind that tote bags are better addressed to a woman rather than a man as women are more likely to own a bag. 

Drinkware products also have a great reach since half of the people who own promotional drinkware use it two to three times a week or more. Vacuum drink bottles and reusable coffee cups being the most popular items because they combine quality and sustainability features.

2. Office-related items

Pens, sticky notes or calendars to name a few are also great exposure items as they are commonly used in the workplace or home office.

Writing instruments are the most popular as they provide the best ROI out of all promotional items. A study conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute reveals that the cost per impression of a pen is less than 1/10th of a cent.

Another quite effective promotional product is a custom desk accessory such as a potted plant. Consumers who own one report that they will keep it for at least 14 months. Think about the number of impressions this will make, especially in a busy office.

3. Tech products

The younger generation of Millenials and Gen Zers especially favours technology-related items such as USB drives or power banks. With utility being one of their key concerns, these promotional products are very effective and appealing to them because they are handy. Indeed, 91% of people keep USB and power banks because they are useful.

4. Sport and Fitness

With the ever-growing number of gyms and fitness facilities in any city, it’s no surprise that promotional products related to this market are very trendy. As a result, sports bottles, towels, armband phone cases, caps or towels to cite a few should be on the list of products you need to consider for giveaways.

5. Attractive design

It’s great to have a useful product but it must be attractive to maximise the chances of the end-user to use it often and in public places. Here are design trends you can’t hide from in 2019!

  • Minimalism: Less is more! Letting the colour and typo shine, we remove everything non-essential to expose the substance of the object.
  • Vintage: We employ manuscript lettering or retro colour patterns to convey the feeling of age and pedigree.
  • Bright Gradients: Previously used as background decor, gradients are now the main component of design to create something that feels fresh and revitalising.
  • Tactile Design: Texture is becoming central to enhancing customer experience and is now equally important to visual appeal.

6. Quality merchandise

This is quite obvious but the quality of your promotional products will automatically reflect the quality of your products and services in the eyes of the recipient and anyone else who is exposed to the recipient using the product. Consequently, you should always prioritise quality over quantity. Moreover, giving away durable items will ensure that they are used longer and will, therefore, create more impressions.

7. Sustainable items

Last but not least, eco-friendly and sustainable products are increasingly popular, especially among the younger generations. From recycled plant fibres that can be made into cups or notebooks to stainless steel that can be used for traditional plastic items such as drinkware or pens, there are a lot of options for ethically sourced and sustainable products today. Not only will the products be appealing to recipients but they will also convey your commitment to corporate social responsibility.


How to give out your promo products?

Once again, we go back to the emotional connection your recipient will feel with your brand through the product you are giving away. The most effective way to create a positive feeling is to personally hand them the item. 

It doesn’t necessarily have to be in person though. For instance, it could be a personalised package that outlines your key messages and call to actions whilst being tailored to the end-user. 

Doing this will certainly make the recipient feel very special, thus creating an unforgettable experience that will go a long way in enhancing brand awareness, customer loyalty and satisfaction.



To conclude, promotional merchandise produces great ROIs, enabling the repetition of the imprinted message many times without added cost to the advertiser. Combining clear goals with useful and appealing items that reflect your business will make your promotional products very powerful for achieving your marketing results.


We are dedicated to your success.

The Yah Marketing team.  

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