The starting point for this is discussion is answering the question, what do you mean by work? For Pavilion this means scoring highly on three fundamental areas:

1. RECALL of the brand – does the product lead to high brand recall rate?

2. LONGEVITY of recall – does the exposure given provide long term or short term recall and exposure

3. FAVOURABILITY – does the product create a favourable impression which, most importantly, leads to a higher propensity to increased business.

 The US trade body for promotional products (PPAI) commissions regular research into this subject including a study of business people who were interviewed in person. The full report can be found at  . The results are impressive and are summarised below looking at the three principle drivers of success.


Those interviewed were asked about the promotional products they had received in the previous 12 months and a high percentage (71%) could recall receiving a gift and of those 76.1% could remember the brand name on the product. As stand-alone statistics this is impressive, but when comparison is made to other mediums, well….

In comparison, 80% of the interviewees could recall reading either a magazine or newspaper in the previous month, but only 53.3% could remember the name of a single advertiser. That after 1 month rather than up to 12months!

The comparison here with TV advertising is interesting. You will know from personal experience that there are some highly creative car adverts with slick backdrops and beautiful actors – but can you recall an advert and name the car brand – not easily, disappointing when one considers the costs. Being creative and flamboyant with the marketing is worth nothing of you cannot recall the name of the brand.


In the US survey 55% of recipients stated that they generally kept a promotional product for more than a year. Why are they held on to for so long? Well the primary reason for holding on to them was if the product was useful – the reason given by 75.4%. The other reason was if the product was deemed attractive (20.2) and interestingly for us here at Pavilion, sporting products were often in the perceived attractiveness category.

Why is the longevity important? Mainly cost effectiveness. A printed advert, TV advert or even the Facebook advert, gets only a few minutes of exposure, possibly a few seconds. Thus, to gain the sort of longevity that promotional items gets, the advert must be repeated with consequent cost. It is the reason that promotional goods are often said to have the lowest cost per impression.


The survey found that after receiving a promotional gift, 52.1% reported a more favourable in impression of the brand than before. Most of the consumers (88%) were already familiar with the brand they received a gift from but here is the really interesting statistic. After receiving the promotional product, 85% did business with the advertiser. This demonstrates that the favourability translates directly into increased business.

Advertisers were also able to increase business even among those who hadn’t done business with them before with 11% reporting a direct correlation with new sales.

So answer to the question do Promotional Products Work? The answer is surely a resounding, yes. Are they a panacea for all marketing, no. Other work has shown that promotional products work best when incorporated into a broader multi-faceted campaign – but that is the subject of another article.

So, what makes the perfect promotional product?

The BPMA have run research to find out what customers found to be the most frustrating with the promotional products they receive. 45% of people said that the problem was poor quality, whilst only 16% said it was down to pricing. This means that customers are more willing to spend a little extra on something if they know that it is usable and attractive.

Customers reported saying that the best promotional giveaways they get were pens, food/drink, and mugs, making up 50.1% of all the votes. The most distinct characteristic between all three of these is the fact that they are useful. However, whilst these might be the most popular products, the real question companies looking for promo goods should ask is: “Will this promotional gift help them to recall my brand and what we do?”. Pens and mugs are popular, sure, but are they actually conveying the correct message? I have half a dozen pens on my desk with different company names on them but right now, I cannot remember what any of those companies do.

Getting the right promotional product is not about selecting the most obvious or the cheapest. Real marketing is about making a lasting impression. Look for a product you know will catch the attention of your customers, look for something different. Above all, remember who your target audience is, and make it fun – they are human after all.

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