Promotional Products Industry History And Overview

Promotional Products Industry History And Overview

Promotional products have been around for nearly 200 years. The Promotional Products Association International (PPAI), a trade association for promotional item distributors, points out that the promotional market came about when George Washington created buttons for his campaign. Although the promotions market has changed and expanded greatly since then, the original concept behind the message remains the same, get your message seen.

Promotional items are increasingly becoming a regular part of companies’ budgets. People are realizing that potential business growth can be directly related to the use of promotional products and creative advertising. Sometimes this means having to spend a little bit more on promotional products while creatively thinking outside the box for new ways to express your message.

The promotional products industry is currently one of the fasting growing industries in the nation with total sales exceeding $16 billion in 2003.

PPAI provided the following breakdown of promotional product sales by category and item:
2003 Category Sales

* Corporate Gifts 17.9%
* Employee Relations & Events 10.1%
* Tradeshows 9.1%
* Brand Awareness 9.0%
* Employee Service Awards 7.5%
* Dealer/Distributor Programs 7.5%
* Public Relations 7.5%
* New Customer/Account Generation 6.6%
* Internal Promotions 6.0%
* New Product/Service Introduction 5.3%
* Safety Education/Incentives 3.8%
* Not-for-Profit Programs 3.8%
* Customer Referral 3.7%
* Marketing Research 1.3%
* Other 0.9%

2003 Promotional Items Sales

* Wearables 29.5%
* Writing Instruments 10.5%
* Desk 7.7%
* Calendars 6.9%
* Glassware 5.5%
* Bags 5.4%
* Recognition 5.0%
* Sporting Goods 4.2%
* Buttons 3.5%
* Automotive 2.9%
* Computer 2.8%
* Textiles 2.6%
* Games 2.5%
* Other 2.4%
* Electronic 2.1%
* Food 2.0%
* Personal 1.7%


Connie O’Lane, a senior writer for Imprint, gives the following as beneficial reasons for using promotional items:

– They’re affordable and don’t have to be supported by more advertising
– Promotional items generate repeated impressions without repeated costs
– Logos can now be affordably rendered with four-color processing
– Promotional items constantly reinvent themselves; there are more than 250,000 promotional products currently available.
– Promotional items help to drive traffic to a website or somewhere with more information
– Promotional items are durable and they aren’t discarded like print advertising
– Business promotions appeal to customers as a way to get something for nothing, eventually generating business back to the company
– Promotional products are the only form of advertising that people don’t mind being subjected to
– Records show that 40 percent of people can remember the names of the advertiser as long as six months after receiving a promotional item and 31 percent still use the promotional item one year later.

The most obvious reasons for using promotional products include reinforcing your brand identity and establishing your name and logo in the eye of the consumer. Advertising professionals give the following as other potential reasons one might decide to use promotional products as an advertising medium:

Promote goodwill
Advertise goods and services
Build customer loyalty
Build/Increase store and trade show traffic
Celebrate an anniversary or grand opening
As a thank you to your employees and customers
Provide incentives for quality work or safety programs
Get your company’s name, phone number, or URL out and in front of current and potential customers

Promotional products are a unique alternative to your regular advertising. Whether it be your logo or url address, these marketing products can help brand your company and keep it top-of-mind.