Branding Beat - Cut Through the Noise

13 Promo Products People Want and Need But Won’t Buy Themselves

When I tell people I work for a promotional products company, the first thing they usually say is, “Oh, that’s cool.” And then there’s a short pause, followed by some variation of the question, “What’s that?” After I explain exactly what Quality Logo Products® does, they’ll usually nod along as if to say they understand, but still sometimes look confused. Promotional products are items just about everyone has seen, but don’t always know what they are called.

Really, promotional giveaways are items we tend to use on a regular basis. We know that people use the pens given to them, but they also buy pens for themselves. Still, that got me thinking: are there products that people want or need, but they tend to not buy? So I came up with a list of products people didn’t know they needed/wanted. A lot of the product ideas come from personal experience or the anecdotes of co-workers and friends.

A list like this is valuable for businesses looking to give out something new to customers. Let’s face it, I’m always going to take that free pen, but if there’s a business giving out pocket tools or refrigerator magnets, you can bet I’m looking forward to bringing those home.

On to the list!

1. Bag Clips

chip-clipsYou’ve probably used these before. We actually have at least a dozen in our snack room that mainly keep our chips, frozen burritos, and other goodies sealed up for the week (even if we have to send out reminder emails). Can you remember the last time you bought one, though?

Chip clips are one of those items that save the day simply because no one wants to go to the cupboard and find their chips are stale. Despite the advantages, we never seem to remember to grab one when we’re at the store. Remind your clients and customers they need these handy clips by giving them out.

2. Rubber Jar Openers

jar-openersTwo of my co-workers told me they’ve received rubber jar openers as promo items and both use them all the time. One said her boyfriend got it while volunteering and it “changed my life.” My other co-worker said she’s used the same jar opener for years.

Whether a jar opener can change a life or not is debatable, but when all you want at the end of the day is a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, that jar opener can be a lifesaver. It’s one of those products you never knew you needed until that stupid jar of grape jelly won’t open. Choose from a variety of different styles to fit your industry including: classic circle, ones shaped like a house, and even ones in the shape of a jar.

3. Lanyards

lanyardsBeing in the promotional products industry, we know a thing or two about tradeshows. At tradeshows you see a lot of name badges hanging around people’s necks by lanyards. Since we tend not to wear lanyards on a regular basis (although you might for work), they aren’t an item we think about buying.

Today, lanyards come in a bunch of different varieties: there are ones that breakaway, ones with USB drives in them, and even lanyards for your water bottle (gotta stay hydrated during those conventions). Provide a personalized one for your employees (or tradeshow attendees) or hand them out to passersby, and you’ll be the hero of the expo. After the tradeshow people can attach them to their keys, or use them for company IDs around the office.

4. Mouse Pads

mouse-padsMouse pads are kind of like power steering for your computer. Using one makes operating your computer a lot easier, and you notice that it’s missing from the moment you try to move the mouse across a wooden desk. My work mouse pad currently advertises a Florida-based auto parts business.

A lot of mouse pads come with a full color imprint, so customizing it to your business it very simple. It’s one of those office supplies that can be easily overlooked if you’re not thinking about it, but if you’re given one from, say, a Florida-based auto parts business, you’d probably use it every day.

5. Silicone Cell Phone Sleeve/ Stands

cell-phone-sleeveDuring a small get together with friends in Madison over the summer I noticed one of my friends had the Silicone Phone Wallet with Stand. She got some strange looks when she put her ID and credit card in the wallet. However, when I saw it, I’m pretty sure I exclaimed, “Promotional products in the wild!” She told me she got it from a vendor at a conference she went to for work.

It makes sense because cellphone sleeves are part of a category of tech items that are gaining popularity. Plus, it can save both men and women money by not having to replace their wallets every year.

6. Stadium Cups

stadium-cupStadium cups might be one of the most popular promotional items at sporting events. Every stadium seems to have some deal where you pay just a little more and you get a souvenir cup. But you can also find these kinds of cups at music concerts and festivals as well.

It stands to reason that people like to bring something home from these types of events, aside from the infinite number of selfies saved on our phones. Plus, fans are probably more likely to spend money on a T-shirt than on a cup. So why not give one out for free?

7. Tote Bags

tote-bagTote bags are increasing in popularity partly due to more cities banning plastic bags. You might have a stack of them sitting in your house right now. Some grocery stores are handing out reusable bags for free, which is a great idea for any business.

Tote bags are an item people are only beginning to buy themselves partly because of the phasing out of plastic bags. You can bet people will love to get a free one as opposed to having to buy one for all those groceries. It’s an inexpensive product that you can afford to get a lot of so you can spread out that marketing budget.

8. Refrigerator Magnets

magnetsWhat came first, the refrigerator magnet or the fridge? OK, so it might not be as complicated as the chicken and the egg question, but it’s probably safe to assume most of the magnets in any given household are on the fridge door. All the magnets on my fridge have been given to me, either by a restaurant, auto mechanic, dentists, and even a landscaping business.

Each one is holding up photos of family members, menus, and this month’s calendar. Every time I open and close the door, I see those magnets staring at me like tiny billboards.

9. Luggage Tags

luggage-tagMy sister got her bright purple luggage set thinking it would be easy to pick out at the airport. Only she was proven wrong when she almost picked up someone else’s similarly colored bag. It’s true, these days some suitcases already come with a luggage tag attached.

However, for those of us who have waited at baggage claim for our suitcases to come sliding to us, having a unique-looking tag might have helped us locate our bag a little more quickly. Otherwise we’re reduced to checking every bag that might look like ours only to inevitably be intercepted by the rightful owner grabbing it just before it reaches us.

10. Ponchos

ponchosThese types of ponchos aren’t used to make a fashion statement. Instead, you’ll usually find them at stadiums covering spectators during a downpour. I can say from personal experience that being handed a free poncho when my socks are starting to get wet is always welcome.

Maybe I’m not very good at planning for inclement weather, but I can’t remember a time when I actually bought a poncho. I’m pretty sure (at least I hope) I’m not alone. Ponchos are not only an inexpensive promo item, but they come in very compact cases. We have ones that attach to your keys just waiting for that unexpected rain storm.

11. Drawstring Backpack

drawstringI think the first drawstring bag I remember seeing was a Six Flags Great America branded one at the park (the one in the northern suburbs of Chicago) when I was younger. My university gave me a drawstring bag that I used to put all the other free stuff they give incoming students: pens, notebooks, a planner, and even a stadium cup (see above!) branded with the football team’s name.

It kind of became my storage place for extra supplies I would need throughout the school year. There’s a reason the Cinch Up Backpack was No. 1 on our Top 25 Promo Items in 2015 and 2014. People love using them, and they really like getting them.

12. Anything Mood/Color Changing

mood-colorchangeMood rings were pretty big when I was in middle school and even into my first year of high school. The fascination with everything that changes color simply by touch continues to this day. And pretty much anything you can think of comes with a color-changing cousin: pencils, cups, stress balls, and more.

While just about every girl in my eighth grade class would disagree, these aren’t necessarily items people need. They are items that a lot of people want, and are pretty fascinated with. When we had a bin full of stress balls in our office, the first thing a few of us did (including me) was check out the color-changing ones.

13. Tech Cleaners

tech-cleanersIf you were to look down at your keyboard, in between the keys, you’d probably notice some dust and grime. We’ve all noticed the fingerprints on our smartphones when they catch the right light, too.

And that’s one of the reasons people will thank you when you give them some sort of keyboard duster or tech cleaner. Micro-fiber cloths are great for cleaning those pesky fingerprints off our smartphones and tablets. It beats using our T-shirt to clean all the germs off our devices.


Now, it’s true you may have bought one of these items before, but I bet the chances are just as good that there’s at least one product here you haven’t bought but received as a giveaway. That just might be the item you’re looking to hand out and one people are looking to get. The truth is promotional products can be just about anything, and imprinting a product that people need (or don’t know they need until that have it) is a great way to create even more brand recall.

What did you think of the list? Did I leave anything out? Let me know your suggestions in the comment section below!

expand your brand


Bubba is the Quality Logo Products mascot. He may have started out as "just a stress ball," but he's come a long way since the company's launch in 2003. Bubba has been immortalized in numerous vector artwork designs for internal and external promotions, and you can see him change outfits on the Quality Logo Products homepage whenever a holiday rolls around. Oh, and he thinks pants are for the birds. You can connect with Bubba on


  1. Bret Bonnet

    If it’s raining at/during a Bears game, given how bad the Bears are, I think the organization should giveaway free ponchos instead of charging fans $20 for a poncho!

  2. Anthony

    All of these items are great! Not to mention, people will use these for a good amount of time and just having your brand on the them is HUGE! 🙂 I do think that the USB Chargers/Power Banks are an essential item that our generation would love to use nowadays since everyone is using a smartphone! Festivals and concerts are great for these if you are taking tons of pictures and videos. 🙂 Not to mention they last a while so it is a great long lasting product! Great post! 😀

  3. Stacy

    Mouse Pads, Chip Clips, Magnets… three things that I have in my home, but I did not purchase (and not because I work here). I love these promo items, they get your brand in the clients hand and they will use it way more than they think they will! Who doesn’t have tech stuff? bags of chips? computers? And these items are sturdy and pass the test of time. Keeping your brand in their hands for a long time 🙂

  4. Chase

    Whenever I go to explain what promotional products are to a friend that really doesn’t know or have the attention-span to learn, I can just bring up one of those random items you mentioned and of course they have those at their home that they were given by someone and the light bulb clicks on and they realize just how useful to a business or their customer a promotional item can be, especially when given under the right circumstance or time like life-saver jar openers that people will never forget, hah.

  5. Jason

    Great list! I only disagree with 1 of them. Mouse Pads. Who uses mouse pads anymore? If someone gave me a mouse pad, I would throw it away.

  6. Jeremy Quinones

    Right on point with the items you selected! I cannot tell you the last time I bought a tote bag. Tote bags to me are by far the most popular item I seen being handed out, and let me tell you, I have more bags than I can even count! Companies are always looking for that product that will add customer value over time. With these products, your name is in front of the customers for years and can definitely make a huge impact. I have a poncho that was given to me years ago and I still use it! Think about when wearing that at a sporting event/concert constantly, the company gets that exposure each time it is worn! Promotional items can make a big impact on certain people (trust me I am one of them), and with the correct product, value can be added to the company for years to come! Great article, and I will never get rid of my products I received (at least until they break, which then I will tape back together)!

  7. Ashley

    Chase made an awesome point about promotional products. People outside the industry may not be able to define them easily, but you would be hard-pressed to find one person who doesn’t have tons of promotional products that they use every day laying around their homes! For me, I know I rely exclusively on promotional products for my lunch bags. The easiest ones to forget about are the pens and pencils. I am sure everyone has a catch-all drawer that could double as makeshift yellow pages, with an abundance of companies’ contact information and branding.

    Bag Clips are definitely one of those household products that are easy to forget about. Refrigerator magnets are key, too. But bag clips that can double as refrigerator magnets? Major players for me.

    Silicone cell phone sleeves aren’t necessarily commonplace in the world yet, but I really enjoy them. It makes for easy and accessible storage of all the necessary cards without lugging around everything else in my wallet on a night out. And you can attach them to your phone so it makes for one less thing you need to account for.

    Promotional products definitely extend beyond the catch-all drawer. This is a great list of the more unique promotional products that we don’t realize we constantly use!

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