A Lasting Impression
A Study Of American Consumers Reveals Promotional Products As An Effective Advertising Medium
Americans have spoken: They love promotional products. For more than 200 years, these vehicles of promotion have integrated their way into daily life, serving not only as useful tools, but as powerful, long-lasting advertising.
In an effort to better understand the effectiveness of this medium from the consumer’s perspective, PPAI designed and conducted a study which was fielded through MarketTools Inc. in San Francisco, California, to evaluate the action, reaction and relationship of promotional
products and their recipients.
The final sample consisted of a panel of 1,005 consumers who recalled receiving a promotional product in the past 24 months. If they had not received a promotional product in the past 24 months they were screened out of the sample. All questions were answered by 1,005 respondents.
• Of an audience consisting of the average American consumer, a little less than half (44% or 1,005 people) reported receiving a promotional product in the last 24 months
• What’s more, 90.4% reported either currently owning or possessing a promotional product received within the last 24 months
How do recipients feel about receiving a promotional product? Why do they think they were given the item? What actions do they take? These are crucial questions every advertiser should know and understand, as the answers can have a dramatic impact on their ROI.
How they feel:
• 83% of respondents like receiving a promotional product with an advertising message
• 48% would like to receive promotional products more often
• 30% like receiving personalized promotional products (i.e. with their name/personal info on it)
• 25% like getting promotional products to refer to the advertiser’s contact info if needed
• 38% feel promotional products serve as a constant reminder of the advertiser
• 49% are not bothered by seeing a corporate logo on a promotional product
• Only 2% dislike receiving promotional products
What they think:
• 73% of respondents think they were given a promotional product to promote a service, a product or a message
• 63% think it is to create brand/company awareness
• 63% think it is to serve as an advertiser/business service reminder
• 56% think it is an expression of gratitude for business/ action taken
• 53% think it is to solicit support for a cause
• 32% think it is to create good will
• 26% think it is to spread awareness of safety issues
• 25% think it is to commemorate person/event/occasion
• 23% think it is for prevention education
• 16% think it is to urge action
• 13% think it is in recognition of an achievement
• 3% think promotional products are a waste of money
• 2% other
Are more expensive gifts perceived differently than inexpensive ones? If a logo-imprinted promotional product perceived to be expensive was handed out, the majority of respondents say they would believe the item was given to them as both an advertising medium and a gift:
• 6% would believe the item to be a business gift
• 33% would believe the item was a form of advertising
• 59% would believe the item to be both
And, if a logo-imprinted promotional product perceived to be inexpensive was handed out, the majority of respondents say they would believe the item was given to them as an advertising medium:
• 2% would believe the item to be a business gift
• 66% would believe the item was a form of advertising
• 32% would believe the item to be both
The results show there’s a propensity to believe that an inexpensive promotional product is a form of advertising because 66% of consumers say so.
How they act:
- 69% generally keep the promotional product if they have a use for it
- 36% generally give the product to others if they have no use for it–ensuring additional exposure for the advertiser
- 35% generally keep the product if they like the advertiser
- 27% generally keep the product if they like the message it carries
- 20% generally throw away promotional products if they have no use for them
- Only 17% forget the types of promotional products they receive
- 16% of respondents say they prefer to do business with companies that give promotional products
- Only 9% forget the advertiser/product advertised after having the promotional product for more than six months
- 91% of consumers surveyed reported having at least one promotional product in their kitchen.
While consumers say usability is key when it comes to picking up promotional products at events/malls/ trade shows, a fourth of respondents would pick up the item regardless of what it was, which is an impressive number when it comes to spreading your message.
If free promotional products were being handed out by an advertiser at an event/mall/trade show which of the following actions would you most likely take?
- 23% (226 respondents) would pick up a promotional product regardless of what it was
- 69% (688 respondents) would pick up a promotional product if they found it to be useful
- 5% (52 respondents) would pick up a promotional product if they found it attractive
- 1% (11 respondents) would pick up a promotional product if they thought it was a collectible
- 3% (26 respondents) would not pick up the promotional product
- 83% of consumers surveyed reported they like receiving promotional products with an advertising message.
Consumers are split when it comes to patronizing one business that has given them a promotional product over another that has not.
- 40% said their actions would depend upon the promotional product they received
- 39% said they would patronize the business that distributed a promotional product
- 21% said they would not choose one over the other
Are you more likely to patronize a business that has given you a promotional product (when the need for the advertised product or service arises) rather than a similar business that has not given you one?
- 21% said they would not choose one over the other
- 40% said their actions would depend upon the promotional product they received
- 39% said they would be prone to patronize the business that distributed a promotional product
- 74% of consumers surveyed reported having at least one promotional product in their work space.
Top 10 Reasons Recipients Keep A Promotional Product:
- 92% – it is useful
- 30% – it is desirable
- 29% – it is attractive
- 19% – it serves as an informative reference tool
- 17% – it is fun
- 14% – loyalty to the advertiser
- 14% – it is unique
- 7% – it is of high value
- 3% – it is educational
- 3% – other
When it comes to promotional products, advertisers want to know that 1.) the method is effective and 2.) that the cost over time doesn’t outweigh the results. So, the question is: What is the cost per impression when it comes to this particular method of marketing? Consider this: More than half (58%) of respondents keep a promotional product anywhere from one year to more than four years. Even if the recipient uses the item only once per week, that’s a minimum of 52 impressions made over the course of a year with the possibility of more than 208 during a five-year window. And, this doesn’t factor in the countless number of impressions made by others who view the promotional product when in use by the recipient. In general, how long do you keep promotional products you receive from companies?
- 21% keep the promotional product more than 4 years
- 10% keep the promotional product 2-4 years
- 27% keep the promotional product 1-2 years
- 21% keep the promotional product 6-12 months
- 15% keep the promotional product 2-5 months
- 6% keep the promotional product 1 month0
Consumers are inundated with advertising messages and the challenge for businesses is to find a way to cut through the clutter and to not only reach their target audience, but to resonate with them. And, according to survey respondents, promotional products do just that.
We asked the 90.4% of consumers (909 respondents who stated they have a promotional product in their possession as referenced in “The Reach” section) to think of a promotional product they’d received in the past two years and to recall the specific product, the advertiser and the message:
- 94% (859 out of 909) of respondents could recall the promotional product
- 89% (808 out of 909) of respondents could recall the advertiser (WOW!!!!!)
- 78% (709 out of 909) could recall the message
Furthermore, we found that:
- 76.2% (or 693 respondents out of 909) could recall the advertiser, the message and the promotional product received (WOW!!!!!)
- 88.6% (806 out of 909 respondents) recalled the advertiser and the promotional product received
- 77.6% (706 out of 909 respondents) recalled the message and the promotional product received
So, what product did they remember?
A review of product types revealed the traditional range of products including pens, t-shirts, magnets, coffee mugs, caps, calendars, koozies, water bottles, tote bags, luggage, etc. When we evaluated further, to uncover unusual items, respondents recalled receiving: collapsible coolers, dog food scoops, Garmin GPS devices, logoed underwear, martini glasses, pruning shears, a screaming monkey toy and a horse-height measure tape to mention a few.
Who did they remember?
Responses regarding advertisers spanned the spectrum, including everything from universities, TV networks and physicians to food manufacturers, cruise lines and tobacco companies, just to name a few. A sample of specific listings include: American Heart Association, Apostolic Bible Church, State Farm Insurance®, Allstate®, AARP®, U.S. Army®, Bank Of America®, AXON, Battle Creek Health System and BlueCross BlueShield Association®.
What messages did they remember?
A quick snapshot of responses include:
- You are No. 1 with us
- Your home away from home
- Your world delivered
- Weight loss helps
- We care about the environment
- For the long run
- America’s propane company
- Blood donors save lives
- Do the math
- In Christ’s love, everyone is someone
- Invest in tax-free bonds
- It pays to save wetlands
- Keep it basic, your basic lite
- Listen to KROQ
- Lend a hand to veterans
- The next generation family car
Promotional products are powerful. They’re long-lasting, cost-effective and they work, both as effective forms of communication and as useable, necessary tools. The following results reveal just how seamlessly promotional products integrate into life, impacting the daily routines of the recipients.
Your Message: It’s All About Location, Location, Location
- 52% of respondents look to their wall calendar (an additional 12% use a desk calendar) when they need to check the date/day of the week
- 50% of respondents turn to their personal address book (rather than online or yellow pages) to look up information for their important service providers such as family physicians and insurance agents
- 42% of respondents prefer to have the information for their favorite pizza delivery restaurant on a magnet on their fridge
- 23% of respondents prefer to have their vet’s information on a refrigerator magnet
The takeaway? Put your message in places you know they’ll look!
Your Message: Room By Room
The Kitchen: Respondents were asked to provide their best estimate of the number of promotional products that were currently in their kitchens:
- The overwhelming majority (91%) had at least one promotional product in their kitchen, while an impressive 82% had anywhere between two and 11 or more.
Please try to recall and give us your best estimate of how many promotional products you have in your kitchen: Wanting to evaluate further the effectiveness of promotional products, we asked the 91% (828 people) who had at least one promotional product in their kitchen to provide as much info as possible about the product(s) and the advertiser:
Of Those Who Had One Item (9% or 83 people):
- Nearly 82% could identify the one promotional product and 42% could also name the advertiser Of Those Who Had Two Or More Items (82% or 745 people):
- 88.2% (657 out of the 745 people) could remember and identify one promotional product they had in the kitchen and 52.6% (392 people) could also name the advertiser
- 87% (648 people) could identify the second promotional product and 51.7% (385 people) could also name the advertiser
- 69.7% (519 people) could identify the third promotional product and 41.9% (312 people) could also name the advertiser
- 54.6% (407people) could identify the fourth promotional product and 33.2% (247 people) could also name the advertiser
- 44.6% (332 people) could identify the fifth promotional product and 25.6% (191 people) could also name the advertiser
Products Most Frequently Cited In The Kitchen:
Calendars, bag clips, coffee mugs/cups, bottle openers, hot pads, ice cream scoops, glasss, jar lid openers, koozies, mortar and pestles, pens, pizza cutters, note pads, water bottles and bags
The Office/Desk/Workspace: Respondents were asked to provide their best estimate of the number of promotional products that were currently in/on their work areas:
- 74% reported having at least one promotional product in their work area, while more than half (59%) had anywhere between two and 11 or more
Please recall and give your best estimate of how many promotional products you have on/in your office or desk or other workspace:
The 74% (675 people) who reported having at least one promotional product in their workspace were asked to provide as much info as possible about the product(s) and the advertiser:
Of Those Who Had One Item (15% or 139 people):
- 91.4% could identify the one promotional product they had in their desk or workspace that they received and 45% could identify the advertiser of that product
Of Those Who Had Two Or More (59% or 536 people):
- 90.3% (484 people) could identify the one promotional product and 49.4% (265 people) could also name the advertiser
- 89.6% (480 people) could identify the second promotional product and 47.9% (257 people) could also name the advertiser
- 65.7% (352 people) could identify the third promotional product and 35.6% (191 people) could also name the advertiser
- 47.2% (253 people) could identify the fourth promotional product and 25.7% (138 people) could also name the advertiser
- 36.8% (197 people) could identify the fifth promotional product and 19.8% (106 people) could also name the advertiser
Products Most Frequently Cited In/On The Office/Desk: Pens, calculators, calendars, bookmarks, bags, cap clocks, coffee mugs, binders, paperclip dispensers, hand sanitizers, highlighters, letter openers, magnifiers, magnets, sticky pads, mouse pads, note cubes, note pads, Post-it® notes. Staplers, squeeze balls, stickers, sticky notes, pencil holders, watches, water bottles, desk mats, flash drives, pennants, paper weights, rulers, candles, collectible beverages, fans, coasters, clocks,
notebooks, stress relievers, tote bags, sharpie erasers, computer bags, eye glass cleaners, key chains, tissues, return address labels, picture frames
The Bedroom Closet/Other Storage Spaces:
Respondents were asked to provide their best estimate of the number of promotional products that were currently in their bedroom closet or other storage space:
- 55% reported having at least one promotional product in their bedroom closet/other storage spaces, while 41% had anywhere between two and 11 or more
Please try to recall and give us your best estimate of how many promotional products you have in your bedroom closet and other storage spaces:
The 55% (500 people) who reported having at least one promotional product in their bedroom closet or other storage area were asked to provide as much info as possible about the product(s) and the advertiser:
Of Those Who Had One Item (14% or 126 people):
- 90.5% (114 people) could identify the one promotional product and 48.4%(61 people) could remember the advertiser
Of Those Who Had Two Or More (41.1% or 374 people):
- 89.6% (335 people) could identify one promotional product and 52.7% (197 people) could identify the advertiser
- 85.3% (319 people) could identify the second promotional product and 51.3% (192 people) could also name the advertiser
- 63.9% (239 people) could identify the third promotional product and 40.1% (150 people) could also name the advertiser
- 45.5% (170 people) could identify the fourth promotional product and 28.3% (106 people) could also name the advertiser
- 35.8% (134 people) could identify the fifth product and 23.3% (87 people) could also name the advertiser
Products Most Frequently Cited In The Bedroom Closet/Storage Area:
T-shirts, polo shirts, caps, beach towels, notepads, book bags, radio alarm clocks, bags, back packs, calendars, briefcases, caps, duffle bags, towels, key chains, tote bags, nail clippers, shirts, shoe spoons, luggage, visors, underwear, umbrellas, calendars, eye covers, fanny packs, lotions, MP3 players, jackets, pens, notebooks, stuffed animals, masks, sweat shirts, ear plugs, windbreakers, blankets, frames, luggage tags, lighters, nail files, lunch bags, pill containers, clothes brushes, bed night lights, book rests, bathrobes, hats, slippers, shoe horns
Gender? 56% Female 44% Male
What is your age?
Age 18-29 18%
Age 30-39 22%
Age 40-49 23%
Age 50-64 25%
Age 65 or older 11%
What is the highest level of education you have completed?
Bachelor s degree 13%
technical degree 22%
High school diploma 9%
12th grade or less (no diploma) 2%
What category best describes your annual household income?
$100,000 or more 19%
$50,000 to $99,999 38%
$25,000 to $49,999 29%
What is your ethnic background?
American Indian or Alaskan native 2%
Asian or Pacific Islander 4%
Black/African American 5%
White or Caucasian 84%
What is your employment status?
Employed by a company/organization 55%
Materials for reprint furnished by PPAI 2009.
A study conducted by PPAI Research and
fielded through MarketTools, Inc.