The promotional products industry is unique because it doesn’t manufacture the items that it sells. Active firms will purchase magnets, calendars, mugs, T-shirts, and a wide range of other products which are then customized to meet the needs of a client’s advertising or marketing effort. It is like having a business card that promotes a company, but it offers the message on a usable product instead.
Since 2013, IBIS World reports that industry revenues have risen at an average annual rate of 2.4%. In 2018, the promotional products industry saw growth of 3.5%. Although the number of active firms has grown in the United States by 0.7% since 2013 to roughly 37,000 companies offering services, employment opportunities are down by 0.2% to approximately 131,000 positions.
Because of the promotional products industry, the advertising and marketing messages created by brands can continue to live on after the initial exposure. 88% of people can remember the advertiser specifically after viewing an item on an industry product. 47% of those who receive one of these items say that they have kept them for at least 12 months.
Brands purchase items from this industry to give to their future customers. It may be the only set of products where the advertising you offer to people is something for which they will thank you.
Important Promotional Products Industry Statistics
#1. The promotional products industry has a current value of $23.3 billion. This amount set a record for the industry in total sales volume, top in the previous record in 2016 by over $2 billion. (Promotional Products Association International)
#2. Wearables are the most popular product category for the promotional products industry today. 35.8% of all sales involved in this category, with 28% involving apparel. Drinkware comes in second with 8.4% of product sales. Writing items follow at 6.6%, then it is travel (6.3%), technology (5.6%), and automotive products (3.5%). (Promotional Products Association International)
#3. Business services are the top buyers of promotional products each year. The primary use for industry products is to promote brand recognition, product awareness, and to establish a corporate identity. (Promotional Products Association International)
#4. Over 40,000 companies are currently active in the promotional products industry today. This industry provides roughly 500,000 jobs in the United States. (Promotional Products Association International)
#5. 70% of brands say that they consider promotional products to “always” or “mostly” be effective when attempting to achieve marketing goals as an organization. (Promotional Products Association International)
#6. 89% of consumers say that they have received a promotional product in the last six months. That caused 79% of them to research the brand after receiving an item, while 83% report that the contacts made it more likely that they would do business with the brand that was offering items from this industry. (Promotional Products Association International)
#7. 90% of the people who receive a promotional product say that they can remember the branding when encountering it again. (Promotional Products Association International)
#8. 80% of people who received promotional products in the past six months said that they recalled the messaging offered by the brand, while another 70% said that they could remember the call to action that was given. Millennials remembered social media the most, whereas Generation Xers recalled the directional call to action or statements with definitive instruction. (Promotional Products Association International)
#9. 80% of people own up to 10 promotional products at any given time. 53% said that they use their promotional product at least once per week. (Sage World)
#10. 60% of consumers who received promotional products say that they keep them for up to 24 months. (Sage World)
#11. Only 20% of people will take a promotional product that they don’t want and put it into the trash immediately. Even when the item is unwanted, the average lifespan of an item from this industry is 6.6 months. (Sage World)
#12. 91% of consumer say that they have at least one promotional product in their kitchen at any given moment. Another 74% say that there is at least one promotional item in their workspace. (Sage World)
#13. Two-thirds of consumers who receive promotional product industry items say that they pass along the items to someone else when they don’t want to keep them. (Sage World)
#14. When asked why they keep promotional products, the top three answers given were that the products were fun, functional, and trendy. (Promotional Products Association International)
#15. 82% of people say that their impression of a brand becomes more favorable when they receive a promotional product as an advertising effort. That’s why this form of marketing is often rated as being the most effective way to prompt action across all generations and devices. (Promotional Products Association International)
#16. 41% of consumers who receive promotional items from a brand with whom they are interested in working will keep them for up to 5 years. 18% of consumers that they keep promotional products for over 11 years. (Promotional Products Association International)
#17. Bags are the most popular item distributed from the promotional products industry because they offer roughly 6000 impressions every time a recipient uses it. 31% of consumers in the United States own at least one promotional bag. (Sage World)
#18. Writing instruments and bags are the cheapest items to produce in the promotional products industry at the cost of just 1/10th of a cent per item. (Sage World)
#19. Mugs with a logo on them are more effective for advertising and marketing purposes than television or radio spots. 57% of consumers say that they can recall the messages offered on the promotional product compared to the 32% who say that they remember what they say in the media. (Sage World)
#20. 15% of people in the Midwest own at least one item of outerwear from the promotional products industry, which is the highest percentage of any region in the United States for this option. (Sage World)
#21. 77% of consumers say that the primary reason why they keep a promotional product, even if they don’t support the brand that gave it to them, is because the item proved itself to be useful in some way. (Sage World)
#22. 59% of employees who receive promotional products that reflect the branding and messages of their employer have a more favorable impression of their workplace when they are given an item. (Fully Promoted Franchise)
#23. 85% of promotional product recipients will eventually do business with the advertiser, which means 17 out of 20 people will become a customer at some point because of the efforts made to distribute industry items. (Fully Promoted Franchise)
#24. Adding promotional products to the mix of media advertising makes the effectiveness of each campaign up to 44% better because of the change in attitude that a consumer experiences when they receive an item they can use. (Sage World)
#25. Promotional products offered by brands working with this industry can draw up to 500% more referrals from satisfied customers compared to an appeal letter being sent out by the organization alone. (Sage World)
#26. Up to 15% of adults under the age of 35 say that they go out of their way to avoid traditional advertising services. (Microsoft)
#27. Over 61% of the calendars that people use at home, along with 76% of the same item at a business, come from the promotional products industry. (Promotional Products Association International)
#28. Although 77% of Americans say that they own a smartphone, 50% of them have never used the calendar function on their mobile device. These consumers will still use the calendar that they have on their desk or wall to organize their space. (Promotional Products Association International)
#29. The top 50 promotional products distributors generated over $5 billion in revenues in 2017, a figure that was up over $500 million from the year before. (Promo Marketing Magazine)
#30. There are 22 states and one Canadian province that has at least one of the top 50 promotional product distributors. Ohio has the most, with six firms appearing on the 2017 list. (Promo Marketing Magazine)
#31. The U.S. Midwest accounts for the most firms in the top 50 of the industry, with 42% of active companies making the list. In comparison, only three states in the West have one distributor as a top earner for the industry. (Promo Marketing Magazine)
#32. The top 50 distributors of promotional products in North America employ more than 15,000 people, with Taylor Communications responsible for 1/3 of that amount. 32 firms that appear in this list employed at least 100 people in 2017. (Promo Marketing Magazine)
#33. 48% of consumers say that they would like to receive promotional products from brands more often. (Sage World)
#34. 69% of consumers say that they would pick up a promotional item on their own without prompting if they felt like the item would be useful to them in some way. (Sage World)
#35. The promotional products industry is also shifting toward social media by creating specific hashtag marketing opportunities with their items to expand consumer reach. Over 43 million posts on Instagram use the #Adidas search, while #Nike has 69 million posts. Almost every item features apparel from the brand in the image. (Promo Marketing Magazine)
#36. The global promotional products industry currently has over 40,000 distributors and 7,150 suppliers offering products and services. The United States holds the greatest share of this industry with roughly 25,000 active firms, followed by Europe with about 12,000. Canada comes in third with 7,200. (Bic)
Promotional Products Industry Trends and Analysis
There is no doubt about it: the world is becoming a much smaller place. It is easier than ever before for a business to find customers internationally.
That means the average consumer receives more brand of messages every day in 2019 then arguably at any other time in history. Over 2,000 different messages are absorbed by potential customers. If you want to make an impact on someone, then you need to make your brand message rise above all of the white noise that people hear each day. You must become interesting as a brand and business right now to be relevant.
That is why the promotional products industry continues to grow at a steady pace in the United States and around the world. It is one of the easiest and most affordable ways for organizations to connect with potential customers. When they offer something that is useful without charge, then there is an excellent chance that the person will one day become a customer.
The future of company swag will continue to evolve as technologies keep developing. A preference for wearables will transition into smart tech that could help to monitor a person’s vital signs. More items will try to connect with consumers who are using their mobile devices to interact and shop online. Virtual reality and augmented reality are untapped resources where early adopters could create a lasting impression on consumers.
Over the next 5-year period through 2024, the upward trend for this segment should continue. Although it isn’t a recession-proof sector, a CAGR of 3% is a reasonable performance expectation of the promotional products industry.
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