Promo Direct has launched a comprehensive whitepaper on the promotional product industry. titled “Decoding the Promotional Products Industry”, this document is an engaging read and provides exciting insights.
Promotional Products Logo Apparel
Business Gifts Marketing Materials
1. Promotional Products: A Genesis
2. Promotional Products Association
3. How does the promotional industry work?
4. What are promotional products used for?
5. Who buys promotional products?
6. Tips for choosing a promotional product
7. Why business owners prefer promotional
products over other advertising media?
8. When should you give away promotional
9. The most successful product categories products?
10. The items customers love to receive!
Promotional Products: A Genesis
Barack Obama's 2012 Presidential Campaign deployed an arsenal
of promotional products to get his message across to American citizens. Car magnets, stickers, bands and t-shirts are some of the promotional products that were used to highlight his campaign. A dedicated site (https://store.barackobama.com) allowed visitors to
browse a purchase political merchandise.
Obama, however, wasn’t the first President to use promotional prodthe first President o
ucts. The reliance on promotional giveaways is a practice that dates
back to the first American President – close to 300 years ago. In
1789, supporters of George Washington – the Father of the Nation –
handed out attractive commemorative brass buttons when he was
successfully elected as President. The buttons displayed the message:
“GW: Long Live The President”.
These buttons caught the fancy of several entrepreneurs – they realized that products could be customized and deployed as marketing
tools for business growth. As a result, the 1800s witnessed the introduction of advertising calendars, wooden specialties and the Farm-
Jasper Meeks: The Revolutionary
Jasper Meeks is regarded by many to be the Father of the modern
promotional industry. In the late 1800s, he convinced a local shoe
store to imprint their name on school bags and supply them to needy
children. This triggered a promotional frenzy and several other businesses started imprinting their names on anything they could lay
their hands on – calendars, caps, fans and even aprons!
Thus, the late 1800s became the launching pad for the promotional
industry as it is known today.
Promotional Products Association
By 1903, America was host to a number of promotional products
manufacturers. But they lived in difficult times and business was
mostly unpredictable. They needed a common platform to boost the
perceived value of promotional products to achieve buyers' objectives.
On November 20, 1903, a group of 12 manufacturers got together to
form the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI).
Ever since its inception, PPAI has been highlighting the use of promotional products as an advertising medium across the world and
especially in the United States.
Some interesting facts about PPAI:
Since 1903, PPAI has undertaken more research and surveys than
any other entity in the promotional industry. PPAI Research is
renowned for its valuable insights and surveys on the industry
PPAI regularly felicitates the industry’s top performers with awards
for categories such as customer service, creativity and ingenuity
PPAI is responsible for the PPAI Expo, the industry’s biggest and
most relevant tradeshow that attracts thousands of people from the
USA and across the globe
PPAI Publications serves as the leading communication
network for the promotional industry. PPAI is behind several renowned magazines such as Promotional Consultant
Today and PPB Newslink
How does the promotional industry work?
The promotional products industry is powered by an efficient
supply chain that has the manufacturer as the starting point and the
buyer at the end. Sandwiched between these two are the industry’s
most important entities – the Suppliers and the Distributors.
The Suppliers source the promotional products from the manufacturers and make them available to Distributors. The distributors, in
turn, offer these products to business owners or individuals.
The arrival of Internet several decades ago resulted in a fierce battle
online between Distributors for customer supremacy. As a result,
several websites offer fabulous deals and discounts on products and
Today, an individual can place a bulk order for promotional products
from the comforts of home itself with the products being delivered to
1. The buyer visits the Distributor's website and places an order for a product.
He provides a logo and/or message for imprint on the product.
2. The Distributor gets the artwork ready and provides it to the
supplier who imprints it on the product.
3. The order is finally shipped out from the supplier's warehouse.
What are promotional products used for?
Promotional products are primarily used to highlight a product,
service, cause or an individual. This is achieved by giving away business gifts, awards, prizes, commemoratives and other imprinted or
The 2009 PPAI Program Category Study lists the following as the
Top 10 Uses for promotional products:
New Customer/Account Generation
Employee Relations & Events
New Product/Service Introduction
Employee Service Awards
Who buys promotional products?
Hundreds of American firms and institutions place bulk orders for
personalized products each day. They imprint their logo or message
on products and distribute them among their target audience,
whether its customers, students, employees or the general public.
A 2007 survey by PPAI sheds some light on the Top 10 buyers of
Education: Schools, Colleges, Universities
Financial: Banks, Savings & Loan Companies, Credit Unions
Health Care: Hospitals, Nursing Homes, Clinics
Construction: Building Trades, Building Supplies
Trade, Professional Associations and Civic Clubs
Real Estate: Agents, Title Companies, Appraisers
Government: Public Offices, Agencies, Political Candidates
Professional: Doctors, Lawyers, CPAs, Architects
Restaurants and bars
Which sector do you belong to?
Tips for choosing a promotional product
The process for choosing a promotional product is an art and
requires attention to detail. There are thousands of products available
online and it is important to choose one that matches the advertiser’s
branding requirements best.
When an advertiser searches for a product, he will be keen on the imprint area, which is the space where the text or logo is printed on promotional products. An imprint area’s dimensions primarily depend
on the size of the product. If you are placing an order online, share
your logo with the Distributor’s design team and ask them to provide
a sample to judge how well your logo will look on a product. You
should finalize a product only after you are satisfied with the way
your logo is projected.
A survey conducted by PPA on recipients of promotional products
shed some light on what people look out for while choosing a promotional product:
1. Usefulness: How useful is this giveaway? For example, a pen,
clock or calendar can be put to great use by recipients.
2. Quality: Is the product high in quality? Will it stand the test of
time? For example, a set of elegant wine glasses will efficiently attract
your customer to the brand.
3. Attractiveness: How appealing does the product look? An visually t-shirt or pen easily endears itself to recipients and they will use
it for long, giving your brand valuable visibility.
4. Tastefulness: The product should be in good taste and not
offending the recipient’s sensibilities in any manner. Stay away
from products with vulgar overtones.
5. Convenience: How convenient is the product to use?
6. Uniqueness: Is your product unique or is it similar to other
products given by competitors?
7. Longevity: Will your product serve the recipient for a long time?
The below graph provides the results of the survey:
Attractiveness Tastefulness Convenience Uniqueness
Why business owners prefer promotional
products over other advertising media?
Advertisers believe in the power of promotional products and its
ability to launch an effective and memorable marketing campaign.
The final objective of advertisers is to establish a strong connect with
their target audience. In a 2009 PPAI survey of buyers, participants
ranked promotional products over other media such as TV, newspapers and the Internet.
The different attributes that went in favor of promotional products
1. Cost flexibility: Most buyers will testify that the majority of promotional products are available in cost-efficient prices that fit within
2. Long-term promotion: If the quality of the product is good, there
is every chance a recipient will use it for a long period. This provides
long-term brand recall at the cost of a single exposure.
3. Boost repeat business: Many companies believe that promotional
products help them bond with their existing customers better, thus
facilitating repeat business
4. Audience-friendliness: A promotional product - whether it’s a
bag, pen or shirt - is mostly handy in nature and will not be considered a nuisance.
5. Traffic generation: Products can be given away to attract traffic at
tradeshows, events and stores.
Some interesting PPAI facts:
• 44% received a promotional product in the last 24 months
• 89% could recall the name of the advertiser on a promotional
product received in the previous 24 months
of respondents like receiving a promotional product with an
• 48% would like to receive promotional products more often
• 69% generally keep the promotional product if they have a use
generally give the product to others if they have no use for
it–ensuring additional exposure for the advertiser
• 35% generally keep the product if they like the advertiser
When should you give away
There is no doubt that the holiday season presents an ideal
opportunity for companies to give away some quality products to
serve as reminders of their brand. However, products received by
customers at the most unexpected times are the most effective.
Here are some pointers on when to give away promotional products:
1. To mark an occasion associated with the business such as an
anniversary or product/service launch. This way news about the
product or services spreads far and wide
2. To thank customers for their business
3. To support community events, social causes, sport teams, and
4. To recognize employees for their hard work and length of service
to the company
The most successful product categories
While choosing a giveaway, it will be useful to know the products
that have been regularly sought by advertisers. A 2009 sales study undertaken by PPAI identifies Wearables (t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps,
etc) as the most sought after category. Writing instruments, bags, calendars and drinkware follow in that order.
1. Wearables :
Scoop Neck Shirt
Ladies Silk Touch
2. Writing instruments
Easy Flow Gel Pen
Zip Hooded Sweatshirt
Reversible Sleeveless Tee
Bic® Brite Liner Grip
The items customers love to receive!
Even though Wearables are the most successful category, they are a
distant 3rd in the list of products customers love to receive. As part of
a 2011 survey of recipients of promotional products conducted by
PPAI Research, food items (chocolates, mints, etc.) were found to be
the most desired items by customers.
It is important that advertisers choose a product that will strike a
chord with their customers. For this, it is important to be familiar
with the promotional products that are most sought after by individuals.
The top 10 products customers love to receive include:
Food items (chocolates, mints, etc.)
Time-related giveaways (watches, clocks, calendar, etc.)
Wearables (t-shirts, sweatshirts, caps, etc.)
Writing instrument (pens, pencils, markers, highlighters, etc.)
Electronics (mouse pads, flash drives, pouch for handheld
6. Fun (toys, puzzles, stress relievers, etc.)
7. Healthcare (walking pedometers, first aid kits, exercising
8. Beauty (combs, manicure sets, etc.)
9. Compact items for personal use (wallets, money clips, etc.)
10. Tool kits
11. Bags, notebooks, briefcases
With every passing year, the distribution of promotional products
has grown by leap and bounds.
As has been demonstrated by facts and figures in this whitepaper,
there is no doubt that promotional products are eagerly looked forward to by customers.
If you are on the lookout for an effective advertising product, you will
do your brand a world of good by choosing a promotional product.
At Promo Direct, we are committed to providing buyers with quality
reference material on promotional products. If you have any queries
on promotional products, do get in touch with our team.
PPAI - High End, Low End: Which Promotional Products Work Best? A Study of
Consumer and Buyer Reactions
PPAI - The 2010 Estimate of Promotional Products Distributor Sales
PPAI - Business Gift Practices
PPAI - Effectiveness of Promotional Products As An Advertising Medium
PPAI - 2010 Promotional Products Fact Sheet
PPAI - Promotional Products: The Key Ingredient to Integrated Marketing