Creating promotional merchandise is rarely one of the first tactics that marketing teams turn to when tasked with the challenging prospect of building a brand. When approached correctly however, it is easily one of the most powerful ways to efficiently enhance brand recognition and memorability.

Building Brand with Promotional Products

Research undertaken by the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) shows a clear link between promotional product advertising, brand recognition, and increased sales. If that isn’t compelling enough, promotional product advertising can also yield a better return on investment (ROI) than other forms of advertising.

In 2017, the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) released a fact sheet containing important information pertaining to the state of the promotional products marketplace. The analysis showed that:

● 82% of people who had received a promotional product in the previous six months had a more favourable impression of the brand.

● 83% would be more willing to do business with the brand in the future.

● Promotional products are more effective than mobile, online, television broadcast and print advertising.

● Promotional product related recall is excellent. 90% could recall the brand and 70% could recall the specific CTA.

Promotional product advertising can thus yield a better return on investment (ROI) than other forms of advertising. The promotional product landscape in 2018 is an exciting one. The variety of products to choose from is diverse, allowing businesses of all sizes to explore their creativity and select promotional products that will genuinely appeal to their target audience.

With so many potential promotional products to consider, let’s take a closer look at some of the most effective options.


Pens are widely reported as the most-owned promotional product across the world and consistently make it into the top 5 products that generate the most impressions. For example, in the US, writing instruments deliver 2,805 impressions and in London, they deliver 3,449 impressions.

Writing instruments are particularly influential amongst consumers living in urban areas. Interestingly, as more than 90% of people hold on to pens because they are useful, although your design should be carefully considered, you might not need to invest in additional features to create an effective promotional product.


Since securing maximum exposure for your brand is reliant on providing promotional products that will actually be used, you must seek to provide something that is both useful and of a quality that will last. Promotional bags are an excellent choice for several key reasons. In addition to being an inherently practical product, they can also be used to hold a variety of smaller promotional products. So, if your strategy involves the creation of goodie bags, promotional bags should be at the top of your list.

2016 research by the Advertising Specialty Institute found that more than 50% of women and 47% of men in the United States own a promotional bag. Those in the 18-24 age demographic are most likely to own and use them, followed closely by those aged between 45-54. And, notably, promotional bags generate more unique impressions than any other item.


From mugs to reusable travel cups, many consumers love promotional drinkware. Although there are many extremely popular brands producing exceptionally high-quality products with price tags to match, don’t be disheartened! In fact, you might be surprised at just how many excellent options you will be able to source that will look striking when adorned with your branding.

As 50% of consumers in the US own branded drinkware and use it at least twice a week, there is the potential here to drive some seriously impressive results for your business. Just remember, focusing on your design is key. With so many options available, consumers expect practicality, quality, and great design. Yes, even if it’s free.


The ASI research shows that 85% of people who own promotional apparel can immediately recall the brand being advertised. Combine this with the fact that there are a variety of options ranging from t-shirts to hoodies and promotional headbands, apparel is an attractive promotional product for businesses across a range of industries. Notably, apparel consistently comes out on top as the most influential promotional product for consumers aged between 18 and 44, creating large impressions in the process, particularly in Paris and London.


USB sticks are one of the most useful promotional products. Equally popular in urban, suburban and rural areas, notably utility is key as more than 90% keep hold of USB drives simply because they are so useful. Occupying the top position for the most influential promotional product, USB drives are particularly popular amongst people living in suburban areas, and those in the 45-54 and 65+ age demographics.

Promotional products can be used in a variety of ways and often, for example, work especially well to enhance the success of a key call-to-action (CTA). Regardless as to how you choose to shape your promotional strategy, however, you can be confident that it will help you to increase the presence and memorability of your brand.

By Chakraborty

Dr Chakrabarty is the Chief Innovation Officer of IntuiComp TeraScience. Earlier she was Assistant Professor of Delhi University, a QS ranked university in India. Before that she has held research positions in IIT Mumbai, IIT Chennai and IISc Bangalore. She holds 2 patents and over 20 research publications in her name which are highly cited. Her area of research is in smart technologies, integrated devices and communications. She also has a penchant for blogging and is an editor of Business Fundas.