Promotional products are an increasingly popular advertising channel that many businesses are beginning to take advantage of. Despite their growing presence, promotional items are still vastly underutilized and underappreciated in most marketing strategies. You can unlock the full potential of this creative and cost-friendly advertising channel today with the help of Display Sales. This blog post covers common questions and misconceptions about promotional products and their effectiveness.

What is a promotional product?

First things first, you may be wondering what exactly the the term “promotional product” includes. The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) defines promotional products in the following manner:

“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”.

Simply put, promotional products include merchandise such as pens, mugs, and apparel printed with a company logo or message for marketing purposes. They are often given away at trade shows and fairs to attract people to the company’s booth. Using promotional products for advertising or marketing is called specialty advertising.

Why does my business need promotional products?

In this day in age, your business is far behind the crowd if it is not utilizing specialty advertising. Even for a small business that doesn’t do much marketing/advertising, promotional products can still greatly improve your bottom line. They are very effective at reaching consumers you have never done business with or even tried to reach before. Companies use promo items in many ways, the most common being as giveaway items at trade shows and other events. But it is important to remember that more than 48% of consumers wish they received promo products more often.1 So, people clearly like promotional items, and there are plenty of other ways to use them other than trade shows. Promotional items can be extremely beneficial in circumstances such as an employee incentive, closing a deal with a client, social media giveaways, or simply giving to employees to use on their own time. When a team wears cohesive promotional apparel, it creates a sense of uniformity while still making impressions outside the office. When given to consumers, they build brand recognition and loyalty. 54% of consumers reported that receiving promo items from a specific brand increased their loyalty to that brand.1

Silver promotional product (mug) with Display Sales logo

Placing your company logo on mugs and other items will build brand recognition everywhere they go with ease.

Do people remember the company on promotional products?

It may seem like nobody would pay attention to the brand that is printed on a promo product because of how many we see nowadays, but such is not the case. In fact, promotional items ranked as the #1 most efficient way to build brand awareness among consumers. According to a study done by PPAI, 9 in 10 people who receive a promo product will recall the brand name or logo that was on it, 8 in 10 will remember the message or slogan, and 7 in 10 remember the call to action. With 89% of consumers reporting that they have received a promotional item in the last 6 months, that is a lot of people being exposed to and remembering your business. In addition to all this, nearly 8 in 10 people who receive a promo item do further research on the company it is from. This number is even higher among younger people. 87% of millennials report that they typically do additional research on a brand after receiving a promotional product.1

Do people keep promo products?

A major misconception about promotional items is thinking that people just throw them away. The vast majority of people not only keep the promotional products they receive, but they hold on to those items for more than a year. Products kept the longest on average include calendars, USB flash drives, bags, water bottles, and mugs. In addition, when consumers feel finished with a promotional product, they are more than likely to pass that item along to another person. 63% of people said they are more likely to give a promo item they don’t want to a friend than to simply throw the item away.1 This is important because it means the product will continue to make impressions even past the first consumer.

The key to consumers wanting to keep your promotional products for a long time is their usefulness. Consumers are obviously more likely to keep a product that they feel is useful to them than one that isn’t. This is the reason many of the promotional products we see are things like bags, writing utensils, and mugs. They are products that the average person can and will use on a daily basis. Other important factors when it comes to product longevity include enjoyment from owning it, design or look of the product, and the content relayed through it, such as a slogan or motto.

Do promotional products have an impact on consumer opinion?

Because promotional merchandise cannot convey the same amount of information as a TV or newspaper ad can, it is not uncommon to think that they will have less of an impact on consumer opinion. What people fail to consider about commercials and other ad types is that consumers simply don’t want to watch them. We all try to avoid annoying advertisements whenever possible. Studies completed by the PPAI report that 68% of people avoid online video ads, 66% avoid TV commercials, 57% avoid web ads, and 50% for direct mail.1 Examples like this show where specialty advertising can be especially powerful.

Woman writing with promotional product that is a pen

Promotional pens are a simple and effective way to spread brand awareness.

Promotional products were rated as the #1 most effective advertising channel for calling consumers to action. In comparison to the other ad types, only 20% of consumers will either discard a promotional item after receiving it or avoid receiving it altogether. 82% of consumers agreed that receiving a promo item has a positive impact on their perception of a brand. Most importantly, nearly 83% of consumers reported that they were more likely to do business with a company after they receive a promotional item from them.1 These numbers show undoubtedly that promotional items are efficient in spreading brand awareness and affecting consumer opinion positively.

What’s the ROI on promo products?

Promotional items have a lower Cost Per Impression (CPI) than ads in national magazines, newspapers, or prime time TV. The cost per impression for a 1-page ad in a nation-wide magazine is $0.033. For a half-page, black and white newspaper ad or prime time TV ad the cost is $0.019 while regular cable TV is $0.007. The CPI for specialty advertising comes in at a whopping $0.004 per impression, cheaper than all advertising channels except billboards.2 Even with this low cost, promotional items will still manage to make several hundred impressions per month over their lifetimes. Impressions are extremely valuable, and getting them for cheap will obviously benefit your bottom line.

With how competitive the marketing and advertising industries are in today’s world, promotional products offer a new and exciting way to get your message out there. Consumer attention is becoming harder and harder to capture through typical advertisement styles. Don’t wait any longer, incorporate the power of specialty advertising into your marketing strategy today!


  • PPAI Research. (2016). Mapping out the Modern Consumer, 2017 Consumer Study. Retrieved July, 2017, from
  • Advertising Specialty Institute. (2008). The Power of Promotional Products. Retrieved July, 2017, from

Display Sales is an experience creation company. We deliver custom flags, banners, holiday decor, and premium promotional products to help personalize and convey brand messages. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or contact us at

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