Promotional Products As a Marketing Medium: Frequently Asked Questions

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Q: What Are Promotional Products?


A: Promotional products—usually imprinted with a company’s name, logo or message—include useful or decorative articles of merchandise that are used in marketing and communication programs. Imprinted products that are distributed free are called promotional products. Imprinted items given as an incentive for a specific action are known as premiums. Business gifts, awards and commemoratives are also considered promotional products.




Q: Who Buys Promotional Products?


A: The following ranks the top 10 purchasers of promotional products according to the findings of a study by Louisiana State University and Glenrich Business Studies. Industries were ranked by distributors according to the volume spent on promotional products by each industry. 1. Education: Schools, Seminars 2. Financial: Banks, Savings & Loan Companies, Credit Unions, Stock Brokers 3. Health Care: Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Clinics 4. Not-for-Profit Organizations 5. Construction: Building Trades, Building Supplies 6. Government: Public Offices, Agencies, Political Candidates 7. Trade, Professional Associations and Civic Clubs 8. Real Estate: Agents, Title Companies, Appraisers 9. Automotive: Manufacturers, Dealers, Parts Suppliers 10. Professional: Doctors, Lawyers, CPAs, Architects, etc.


Q: How Are Promotional Products Used In Marketing?


A: Since promotional products can be used alone or integrated with other media, there are virtually limitless ways to use them. Popular programs cited most often by promotional consultants are business gifts, employee relations, orientation programs, corporate communications and at tradeshows to generate booth traffic. They’re also effective for dealer/distribution programs such as co-op programs, company stores, generating new customers or new accounts, nonprofit fundraising, public awareness campaigns and for promotion of brand awareness and brand loyalty. Other uses include employee incentive programs, new product or service introduction and marketing research for survey and focus group participants.


Q: What Kinds Of Promotional Products Are Available?


A: There are tens of thousands of different types and styles of promotional products. In many cases, it’s even possible to obtain custom items that aren’t found in any catalog. Examples of common items include: apparel, pens, coffee mugs, calculators, key chains, desk accessories and memory sticks.




Q: How Large Is The Promotional Products Industry?


A: Advertisers spent more than $18 billion in 2011 on products purchased through promotional consultants.


Q: What Products Are The Most Popular?


A: Of the more than $18 billion that was spent in 2011 on promotional products, the most popular category was apparel. The top 10 categories for 2011 were: 1. Apparel: Aprons, uniforms, blazers, headwear, jackets, neckwear, footwear, etc. 2. Writing Instruments: Pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, etc. 3. Calendars: Wall and wallet calendars, desk diaries, pocket secretaries, etc. 4. Drinkware: Glass, china, ceramic, crystal, plastic and stainless steel. 5. Bags, tote bags, shopping bags, gift bags, drawstring bags, cosmetic bags, etc. 6. Desk/Office/Business Accessories: Cases, pen sets, calculators, paper products, etc. 7. Recognition Awards/Trophies/Jewelry/Clocks & Watches: Plaques, certificates, etc. 8. Other items not included elsewhere 9. Games/Toys/Playing Cards/Inflatables: Kites, balls, puzzles, stuffed animals, etc. 10. Textiles: Flags, towels, umbrellas, pennants, throws, blankets, etc.


Q: How Effective Are Promotional Products?

A: Promotional products are extremely effective in reaching and influencing people according to PPAI and university research studies. Following are some examples:


Promotional Products: Impact, Exposure & Influence


A survey conducted by LJ Market 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. More than 71 percent of respondents surveyed indicated they had received at least one promotional product in the past 12 months. The study also showed that respondents’ ability to recall the name of an advertiser on a promotional product they had received (76 percent) was much better than their ability to recall the name of an advertiser from a print publication they had read in the past week (53.5 percent).


Promotional Products’ Impact On Brand/Company Image


An experiment conducted by Georgia Southern University shows that recipients of promotional products have a significantly more positive image of a company than consumers who do not receive promotional products.


Promotional Product Incentives Produce Valuable Referrals From Satisfied Customers


A survey conducted exclusively for PPAI by the Manship School of Mass Communication at Louisiana State University indicated that, among other findings, accompanying a request for referrals, an offer of a promotional product incentive, or an offer of a promotional product incentive plus eligibility in a sweepstakes drew as many as 500 percent more referrals than an appeal letter alone

Q: How Is The Industry Structured?


A: Promotional consultants develop solutions to marketing challenges through the innovative use of promotional products and are a resource to corporate buyers, marketing professionals and others wanting to increase brand awareness, tradeshow traffic, employee retention and more. There are more than 20,000 consultant firms in the industry. Supplier firms manufacture, import, convert, imprint or otherwise produce or process products offered for sale through promotional consultants. There are

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