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The ASI Impressions Study provides key insights into the behavior and perception of the most promotional products in 2021.

One of the most surprising findings in this year’s promotional product impact study is one-quarter (23%) of consumers reported that they PURCHASED a promotional product in the last year.

I get it – choosing the perfect custom products to promote your brand can be intimidating once you realize the magnitude of promotional items that are out there. I’ve found that the best way to relieve the stress of selecting the perfect promotional products for your business is to look at which products consumers keep and repeatedly use.

So, let me help you out. Thanks to the latest ASI Impressions Study, I know which promotional items are currently owned and kept by consumers in the United States. Here are the most popular promotional items that consumers say were given away free by companies.

Download the Most Popular Promotional Items Infographic Here

1. Custom Face Masks with Logo


company branded face masks

Topping the list this year is the logged mask. ASI found that 57% of consumers would be more likely to do business with the advertiser who gave them a custom face mask. Over 80% of consumers say they wear all or most of the time in public. Given the fact that they aren’t expected to disappear as the fashion norm any time soon, masks are both a smart promotional product to invest in and a useful and needed product for consumers. 

With an estimated 4,235 impressions per promo mask over its lifetime, consumers aren’t going to throw this product out. A high quality, attractive, and trendy mask has the opportunity to give your brand a huge boost in visibility.

Quick Tip:

Wondering what exactly “impressions” are? The average number of impressions each promotional product receives is calculated by multiplying how long a recipient has the product and how many people come into contact with it each month while using it.

 

Trending Custom Face Masks and Face Coverings 

2. Environmentally Friendly Promotional Products

Environmentally Friendly Promotional Products

Environmental friendly products have been a steadily increasing trend throughout the past few years. And it keeps getting stronger. ASI found that the sustainability trend continues to dominate consumer behavior and values. Last year, nearly a third of women say they purchased more sustainable items than they did the year before. 

With 46% of consumers proven to have a more favorable opinion of an advertiser if the promotional products they receive are environmentally friendly, it’s a wise investment for companies wanting to improve brand favorability. Sustainable products will have a halo effect over brands. 

Trending Environmentally Friendly Products

3. Tech - Promotional USB Drives

USB drives vs power banks

Thought they were things of the past? Think again. Data finds 56% of consumers would choose a USB drive over a power bank. And it’s not just a trend we see with older generations. The ASI survey finds that at least half of Generation Z and Millennials would still choose a USB drive. 

Our biggest takeaway from these findings is that it’s not always about what’s cool and new when it comes to technology. There are items that are continuously best sellers for a reason, and it’s important not to forget that. USB drives are versatile, useful and people hold onto them. 

So don’t count them out when planning your promotional tech items. 

Popular Promotional USB Drives

4. Promotional Outerwear

promotional custom jackets

Promotional outerwear is kept by consumers for an average of 16 months. That’s a pretty long shelf life. Over that time, they’re reported to generate 6,100 impressions. That’s 6,100 eyeballs that will see your brand for each logoed outerwear product you give out. 

If you decide to invest in outerwear, you’ll want to keep the following style trends in mind for 2021: 

  • Jackets - All inclusive sizing matters. Consider offering extended size choices, or invest in jackets with belts, allowing for more size versatility. 
  • Synthetic down - Puffer jackets are the latest trend among consumers. Allergies and animal rights have steered many consumers away from real down products. Synthetic down is seen as a convenient, easy to care for alternative.
  • Lightweight - Consumers are looking for lightweight outer layers. There’s a demand for lighter weight knits as well as water-repellent fabrics.

Trending in Outerwear

5. Custom Tote Bags

custom tote bags with logo

Going hand in hand with the sustainability trend, it’s no surprise that custom tote bags remain one of the most popular promotional items. They are kept by consumers for an average of 11 months, boasting 3,300 impressions in that time period. 

What makes a consumer more likely to keep your promotional bag? ASI’s study says quality, utility, and attractiveness are the top factors to consider. By investing in a tote bag that has these three characteristics, your bag is much more likely to be used more frequently. The top places they might be used are crowded areas like grocery stores or the mall - making them an item with high-staying power. 

Consider this - a logoed bag that costs $5 will have a cost-per-impression of under 2/10 of a cent! 

Trending Custom Tote Bags

6. Custom Printed T-Shirts

custom printed tshirts for companies

Consumers hold onto t-shirts for an average of 14 months - making them a promotional product with one of the longest staying powers

The rising demand for individuality is likely a testament to why t-shirts continue to remain in high demand. Consumers currently crave and wear products that make them stand out, which has led to the customized trend

Consider going bold and incorporating a message with custom printed t-shirts. With 63% of consumers preferring to purchase products and services from companies that stand for a purpose, promotional t-shirts can be a great way to showcase those brand values and beliefs. 

Trending Tees

7. Custom Promotional Drinkware

promotional mugs with logo

Custom promotional drinkware is another popular promotional item that will always have a use. With the average consumer holding onto drinkware for 12 months - it has a high ROI with the average product CPI under ½ cent

Again, as we see the focus on sustainability bring about concerns like single-use plastic products, reusable bottles are surfacing as a trending drinkware item. Also popular, are vacuum insulated tumblers that keep beverages hot and cold, eco-friendly wheat tumblers, and stainless steel mugs. 

Trending Drinkware

8. Work From Home Products 

home office promotional products

With the shift to remote working, office items are a hot promotional item that will continue to be in high demand. The most important factor to consumers? Utility. 

64% of work from home products will be kept by consumers if they deem them useful. 

So what makes a useful remote office item? Think of products that keep workers: 

  • Organized
  • Productive
  • Comfortable

Think about products that employees might have easy access to in the office, but not necessarily at their homes. If it’s supplying them with everything they need to conquer their workday, your promotional item is much more likely to be seen as a must-keep item.

Trending Work From Home Items

9. Custom Printed Hats and Headwear

promotional hats with logo

Customized headwear offers longevity and optimum brand exposure. With an average of 3,400 impressions over a lifetime of 10 months, you really can’t deny the power behind promotional hats. 

What’s more, is the unique way hats generate these impressions. Hats can be worn inside and out, day after day. This allows them to be exposed to different audiences, at different times in different places. Plus, hats can be worn for consecutive days. Not always the case with other branded apparel. 

The main focus for consumers is attractiveness when it comes to headwear. So consider what’s in style for 2021: 

  • The Trucker Hat - The top trending hat of the year, this style features a structured front bill with a mesh back. 
  • The Dad Cap - This is another popular style with an unstructured, low profile, twill-based cap style. 
  • Embroidery and Patches - Consider branding your hat with a laser-cut patch or embroidery. This style fits in with a more subtle design trend.

Trending Custom Printed Hats and Headwear

So which promotional product trend for 2021 is right for your business?

It’s important to remember that every industry, business, and customer is different. Not all of these trending products, styles, or ideas will resonate with your ideal buyer persona. Be sure to select the products and trends that align most closely with your brand’s values. 

Here are some of the key factors to keep top of mind: 

 

  • High-staying power
  • Usefulness
  • Number of impressions

Keep these takeaways in mind when it comes time to order effective promotional items for your brand. By being intentional and smart about your products, you’ll be one step closure to delighting your customers and activating your brand. 



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This post was originally published February 11, 2021

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