Do Promotional Products Really Have an Impact?

When I’m out and about, I sometimes get asked the question about whether promotional products can actually have an impact in today’s busy marketplace.

There are so many channels in marketing now, sometimes promotional products can be overlooked in place of digital, social, and online tactics. Yet, using something physical and straightforward can work best in getting a brand out there and creating customer loyalty. Here’s one example…

If you saw any of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign in 2016, it was impossible to miss his now famed red baseball cap. Every campaign rally, there it was. The same hat with the embroidered slogan “Make America Great Again.”

That catchphrase ran through everything Trump’s team did, said, or issued, and the cap was one very visible part of the campaign. Ask anyone what his slogan was, and how he communicated it, and very few will not be able to tell you.

In fact, that slogan was so crucial to the campaign that at one point they were said to be spending more on making the caps (sold for $25 each) than on polling, consultants, or television commercials! 

Now, it’s so infamous that tongue-in-cheek spin-off merchandise is produced by opponents – red caps with the slogan “Make red hats wearable again”!

Whatever you might make of Trump and his politics, you can’t question the effectiveness of his canvassing and the use of promotional products. Yet, Donald Trump wasn’t even the first to do it.

Apparently, the very first use of printed merchandise was by Trump’s predecessor, George Washington, when he used promotional buttons in his own presidential campaign in 1789.

Fast forward to more recent times and some of the biggest promotional product associations – the British Promotional Merchandise Association, The Institute of Promotional Marketing, and the Promotional Products Association International – have shared some interesting data:

  • If giveaways are useful, 89% of people keep them. Pens, USBs, power banks, mugs, and wearable merchandise are all popular products.
  • 91% of customers who receive a logo-branded item of clothing would wear it. 
  • 87 % of people given something complimentary are likely to keep it for over 12 months.
  • 79% of people given a promotional product are more likely to do business with the brand.
  • 79% of customers feel ‘appreciated’ when they receive a piece of promotional merchandise.

These figures make for really interesting reading. The use of well thought out promotional products is growing globally. As such, manufacturers are becoming more and more focused on sustainability, environmental impact and logistics, and material reuse and recycling.

Today, the flexibility and cost-effectiveness of promotional merchandise are some of its biggest draws. It is a tool that can be scaled up and utilised by businesses of all sizes, from start-ups to global firms, and is a brilliant addition to any mixed marketing campaign.

Promotional products are used and passed on to others, lengthening the period of engagement. This exposure on a daily basis, extending the reach of a brand and its values, is hard to copy through other channels.

Here at Parkers, we have been involved with some fantastic projects, working with CEOs and Directors to boost their brands and increase revenue through promotional products and ultra-bespoke branded merchandise.

Working with Asda, for example, we helped the BBC Children in Need and Tickled Pink campaigns. We created a series of bespoke products to raise awareness of the causes, helping them drive revenue for charity as they sold the products nationwide. Fabulous results for a worthy cause.

So, the answer to the question above is, quite simply, yes! I’ll finish with my own favourite story about the use of products which is from a long time ago, but still worth telling.

I once sold a friend £60 worth of book matches with a picture of his JCB and his firm’s details on the front of them. I asked him to drop them into all the pubs in Silsden, which he did.

As a result of that action, someone contacted him using the contact details on the book of matches and went on to hire his digger for five years as they were building the Aire Valley trunk road at the time. Not a bad return on investment!