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What Are the Most Popular Promotional Items? [Infographic]

on March 31, 2016, updated on June 13, 2020 3 min read

What Are the Most Popular Promotional Items? [Infographic] What are the most popular promotional items? [infographic]

Editor's Note: This blog post was originally published in March of 2016 and has since been updated to incorporate ASI's 2019 Impressions Study and 2020 promotional trends.  

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 ASI's 2019 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.

1. Promotional Drinkware

78% of consumers own promotional drinkwareSay hello to the most often owned promotional product by U.S. consumers: promotional drinkware! Over 70% of U.S. consumers own some type of promotional drinkware. How's that for high-staying power and repeated impressions?

Quick Tip: Remember, the category of "promotional drinkware" covers a vast range of items that includes water bottles, ceramic mugs, glassware, and more.

2. T-Shirts

Promotional T-shirts generate 3,400 impressionsT-Shirts have a long staying power—63% of consumers keep their shirts for an average of 14 months. Plus, they have one of the highest numbers of impressions because they’re worn in public settings. 

Quick Tip: Notice how shirts generate some of the highest impressions out of any other promotional item in the U.S.? To understand the weight of this finding, you must first know exactly what “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.

3. Custom Tote Bags

50% of consumers more likely do business with advertiser that gave them promo bagPromotional tote bags are extremely prevalent marketing tools, especially when it comes to trade shows. It’s not hard to figure out why – promotional bags are extremely useful to consumers. Whether they’re a trade show giveaway or a custom reusable grocery bag, promotional bags are insanely popular promotional items, and the statistics above prove it.

Quick Tip: Bags also have such a high number of impressions because they are most often used in public places. They have multiple usages which makes for an item with high-staying power. 

4. Promotional Power Banks

Power banks are kept average of 12 monthsHere's a promo item that will literally charge up your marketing! Promotional power banks are influential due to their functionality and high-staying power.

Quick Tip: I find it beneficial to look to trends outside of the marketing world to indicate which promotional products will be a hit among consumers. For example, since two thirds of people in the U.S. are smartphone users according to PEW Research Center, power banks make sense to give away because they are compatible with smartphones.

5. Promotional USB Drives

47% would give usb away if they didn't want itHere’s a product that is an embodiment of the 2019 promotional product trend that “usefulness is key.” Recipients even said it themselves: 58% keep their promotional USB drive because they’re useful. 

Quick Tip: USB drives have way more styling options than you’re probably aware of. USBs can be made custom to your company with a variety of different colors, materials, and sizes.

6. Apparel

Outerwear is kept average 12 monthsApparel items can be as simple as your company’s logo on a jacket or a creative design that reflects your company’s message on a pair of socks. Either way, consumers are fans of apparel: 70% of consumers keep their outerwear for a year or longer and 65% own polo shirts. 

Quick Tip: Apparel items include everything from sweatshirts to dress shirts to socks. The options are unlimited to find what best matches your company—and what your consumers want to wear. 

7. Custom Desk Accessories

67% millennials favor adertiser who gave out desk accessoryPromotional desk accessories have a high-staying power of 13 months. Think of all the repeated impressions these items will make. These impressions will ultimately lead to strong brand recognition among consumers.

Quick Tip: Promotional desk accessories are great for creating a sense of brand unity in office environments. Deck out your employees’ work spaces with promotional desk accessories such as pens, calendars, and notepads to brand your office.

8. Headwear

Headwear generates 3,400 impressionsHeadwear is a great example of the promotional product trend that consumers appreciate the “attractiveness” of a product. 63% of consumers keep their promotional hats because they’re attractive. This means 3,400 impressions over their lifetime of 10 months.

Quick Tip: The category “headwear” includes baseball caps, beanies, bandanas, and headbands. 

Key Takeaways

So what makes a promotional item popular? Here are the key factors why these popular promotional items worth ordering:

  • High-staying power
  • Usefulness
  • Number of impressions

Remember these key takeaways and above items when it comes time to order effective promotional items for your brand. With these key factors in mind, you're sure to pick a product that will resonate with recipients.

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