Promo University

What Are Promotional Products?

Alyssa Mertes

Published: July 23rd, 2020

If you've ever gone to the bank and grabbed a pen from the cup, or taken a drawstring bag home from a 5K, you've held a promotional product in your hands. These logo printed items are part of our lives almost every day, even if we don't always realize it!

According to the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI), the most popular promotional items include:

  1. 1. PPE products (face masks, hand sanitizer, etc.)
  2. 2. USB drives & chargers
  3. 3. Apparel & outerwear
  4. 4. Drinkware
  5. 5. Writing instruments
  6. 6. Bags
  7. 7. Calendars
  8. 8. Desk & office supplies
  9. 9. Umbrellas
  10. 10. Power banks

A variety of businesses, from restaurants to non-profits, love to use promotional products like these to make an impression. Here's everything you need to know about this marketing strategy!

What Are Promotional Products?

Cup and apples

Promotional products are custom items that businesses, non-profits, bands, sports teams, realtors, and other organizations use to advertise. These items are printed with some kind of identifying mark like a name, contact information, slogan, or logo.

The logoed glass you drink from at a restaurant, the band t-shirt you buy at a concert, the foam finger you hold up at a football gameā€¦ all of these can be thought of as promotional products!

Cup and apples

What is the Promotional Products Industry?

The promotional products industry consists of over 40,000 companies and is worth an estimated $23.3 billion. It's operated by two different types of businesses: 1) suppliers and 2) distributors.

Suppliers

Supplier - A supplier's products are featured on a distributor website, and once an order is placed, they get the products printed with the design. In other words, they are the keyholders who do the actual customization of the items.

Distributors

Distributor - A distributor is the face of the promotional products industry and works directly with the customers. They will send a customer's order to the supplier and work with them on making sure it's right.

Think of it this way - the distributor is the middleman. They find out what the customer needs, communicate that to the supplier, and get the custom items shipped back to the customer.

What Are the Best Promotional Products?

The most popular giveaways are the ones that are useful and stylish. They're items that people are genuinely excited to receive and hold onto for years. This includes:

  • PPE products
  • USB drives & chargers
  • Apparel & outerwear
  • Drinkware
  • Writing instruments
  • Bags
  • Calendars
  • Desk & office supplies
  • Umbrellas
  • Power banks
Infograph This infographic shows the most popular promotional products of all time. These items are used by businesses of all sizes for trade shows, fundraisers, and as company swag.

1. PPE Products

39% of pepole own a face mask that's printed with a logo.

PPE products boomed in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic. Hand sanitizer, sneeze guards, and other medical equipment saw an influx in sales volume. By far, the most popular items were face masks, with 39% of people owning a logoed one!

2. USB Drives & Chargers

A reported 58% of consumers own a promotional USB drive or charger.

The Cloud may have taken over how we save files and data, but many people still like to have a backup. For this reason, USB drives and chargers remain one of the most popular promotional products to this day. In fact, 58% of people own a custom USB item.

3. Apparel & Outerwear

An average of 70% of people own logoed apparel like t-shirts, hats, and jackets.

If you take the average number of people who own promotional t-shirts, hats, polos, jackets, gloves, and other apparel, you'll get roughly 70%. That's a ton of folks out there who have logoed clothing hanging in their closets!

4. Drinkware

78% of people sip thier beverages from promotional drinkware

5. Writing Instruments

89% of consumers own promotional pens, pencils, and markers.

We all love our cell phones, laptops, and other tech gadgets, but writing by hand still hasn't gone out of style! Pens, pencils, and markers are extremely popular as 89% of consumers own some kind of promotional writing instrument.

6. Bags

1 promotional bag will result in about 3,300 impressions.

Bags that are handed out for promotional purposes will yield about 3,300 impressions in their lifetime. That's a ton of people noticing the logo printed on the outside. It's basically like a walking billboard for your organization!

7. Calendars

53% of people hold onto promotional calendars because they're useful.

You'll get a year's worth of impressions if you use calendars to advertise your business. A reported 53% of people keep them because they're useful at school, home, and the office.

8. Desk & Office Supplies

64% of people own logoed desk accessories of some kind, whether it's decorations or office supplies.

Desk accessories and supplies, like stress balls, hardcover journals, and potted plants, are well-loved by about 64% of people. They use these items to bring some personality to their office space.

9. Umbrellas

Promotional umbrellas are kept for an average of 14 months.

Rain or shine, custom umbrellas are always a great giveaway for your organization! People will hold onto these gifts for 14 months or longer and use them in the winter, spring, summer, and fall.

10. Power Banks

A power bank that is printed with a logo will be held onto for about 12 months.

Watch this video to learn more about the best promotional items of all time!

Nothing is worse than a battery that's almost at 0%. That's why everyone loves power banks, especially if they receive them for free at trade shows. These portable chargers are held onto by people for an average of 12 months.

What Are Promotional Products Used For?

You can give promotional products away for free, use them at your business, or sell them to bring in some extra funds or revenue. They can be used for any of the following:

  • Daily business operations
  • Employee uniforms
  • Branded merch that's purchased by fans
  • Free giveaways at events
  • Fundraising items for a non-profit
  • Souvenirs at hotels and tourist attractions
  • Spirit wear of a team or school
  • Holiday gifts
  • Community awareness giveaways
  • Party favors for weddings and other events
Daily Operations

Daily Operations

Promotional items come in handy for your day-to-day work. For instance, restaurants often use custom printed napkins and glasses to serve their customers.

Employee Uniforms

Employee Uniforms

Grocery stores, banks, fast food restaurants, retail stores, and many others purchase logoed apparel or aprons as employee uniforms. It's an easy way to unite your team and look official to your customers.

Branded Merchandise

Branded Merch

If you've ever been to a concert, you know all about the merch tents! Many organizations sell branded merch, not limited to podcasts, movie studios, pop-up shops, and of course, bands.

Free Giveaways

Free Giveaways

Whether it's a trade show or grand opening, logoed items make excellent free giveaways. Many organizations look for something cheap, simple, and under $1 each.

Non-Profit Fundraisers

Non-Profit Fundraisers

You can get a ton of great fundraising items from a promotional products company, including volunteer shirts, table covers, and little swag bags and gifts for the attendees. They're also great ways for local sports leagues to spread the word and raise extra money.

Souvenirs

Souvenirs

Popular destinations, like resorts, theme parks, and tourist spots, sell promotional souvenirs in their gift shops. They're also commonly found at sports stadiums, live shows, and museums.

Spirit Wear

Spirit Wear

Colleges and sports teams use spirit wear as a way for students and fans to show their pride! Logo hoodies, keychains, pom poms, and other products help create a strong sense of community.

Holiday Gifts

Holiday Gifts

When you need holiday gifts in bulk, a promotional products distributor is the way to go! You can get nice, premium items, such as wireless speakers and stainless steel travel mugs, that are printed with a logo or design.

Community Awareness Items

Community Awareness Items

Churches, schools, libraries, and other local businesses often use promotional products to raise awareness. These can be handed out or sold at village picnics, community art shows, or town fairs.

Party Favors

Party Favors

It's not all about advertising! You can also order personalized favors like KOOZIES® and sunglasses for your wedding, birthday, family reunion, or baby showers.

Do Promotional Products Work?

Promotional products help raise awareness about businesses, bands, non-profits, events, schools, and more. Sometimes it's at a subconscious level, and you don't even realize the products are making you think of the organization!

The numbers don't lie when it comes to how well promotional products actually work:

Hourglass icon

40% of customers who own promotional products keep them for longer than 10 years.

quarter icon

Nearly one quarter of consumers have purchased a logoed item in the last year.

Calendar icon

53% of people use a promotional product at least once a week.

hands shaking icon

About 85% of people have done business with a company after receiving one of their promotional products.

people icon

8 in 10 people own between 1 and 10 promotional products.

Award Icon

Promotional products are the #1 form of marketing across all generations.

Cup and heart icon

70% of people would like to receive promotional products more often.

Cellphone icon

It pays to be active on social media! 96% of people want to know about promotional products ahead of time.

100% icon

Nearly 100% of people are willing to go out of their way to get a promotional product.

The Bottom Line

Who doesn't love cool stuff like t-shirts and water bottles? You use these items anyway, so they may as well be decked out with a cool design or logo from your favorite organizations. For this reason, and many more, promotional products will always be one of the best marketing strategies out there!

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa Mertes

Alyssa is the Lead Copywriter at Quality Logo Products. As a promo expert, she's uncovered the world's first custom tote bag, interviewed the guy behind rock band ACDC's logo, and had a piece published by the Advertising Specialty Institute, a leader in the promotional products industry.

References

Promotional Products Association International (PPAI). 2018 Promotional Products Fact Sheet. Retrieved from, http://www.promotionalproductswork.org/media/1217/law_2018propro-factsheet.pdf

Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI). Global Ad Impressions Study. Retrieved from, https://media.asicentral.com/resources/2020-Global-Ad-Impressions-Study.pdf

Sage World. (2015, April 30). 25 Insane (But True) Facts About Promotional Products. Retrieved from, https://www.sageworld.com/blog/index.php/2015/04/30/25-insane-but-true-facts-about-promotional-products/

Sage World. (2017, March 9). Let the Facts Do the Talking: 25 Stats About Promotional Products. Retrieved from, https://www.sageworld.com/blog/index.php/2017/03/09/let-the-facts-do-the-talking-25-stats-about-promotional-products/

Promotional Products Association International (PPAI). The Promotional Products Industry Strategy Notes: Highlights From the 2019 Consumer Study. Retrieved from, https://www.ppai.org/media/5482/ppai2019consumerstudysummary.pdf