12 July, 2021

Corporate Gifts & Other Promotional Products: Are They Still Relevant in 2021?


The digital trend has made marketing all the more important in 2021, not only in Australia but worldwide. With more than half the population having access to the internet, digital marketing allows your business to reach more potential customers, who can see your ads, but also search your business online.  

The importance of digital marketing may be true for a specific target market, yet offline marketing is still beneficial and still relevant. About 377 million people take the train to commute to and from work each year, in Sydney only.  That’s as many people who can be exposed to offline marketing, including promotional products.

What is promotional product and what are the objectives of investing in them?

The branded merchandise strategy is simple and efficient: spend less, achieve more and remind people about the benefit of doing business with you. Branded promotional products are everyday life items that are branded with a company’s signature colour theme, logo, slogan etc. Investing in promotional merchandising is an inexpensive way to offer a gift to employees or customers, who become your brand ambassadors. These products will offer your business a great visibility and raise significant awareness around your brand.

So how much of an impact are these types of products still having on the marketplace?

1 – Effectiveness of Promotional Products – Numbers don’t lie


According to a 2020 study by the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) explains, promotional products are one of the most high-impact, cost effective advertising mediums.

The study proves that corporate promotional products are an efficient and cheap way of making a brand visible and of gaining potential customers. Across Australasia, studies show on average that individuals have seven promotional products in their homes and/or offices and nearly one-quarter of consumers reported that they purchased a branded merchandise in the last year, proving how desirable branded promotional merchandise is.

In a context where more and more companies a competing to be in the spotlight, it is crucial for brands to gain and retain customers, employees and suppliers, by thanking them with some corporate gifts. According to the 2019 APPA Awards, 90% of large corporates use promotional products to increase brand awareness. Marketers spend $1.5 – $2 billion dollars (AUS) a year on promotional products for one reason, they work.

52% of people interrogated affirm they have a more positive impression of a company and start doing business with them after receiving a corporate gift. Almost 80% of them can remember the brand advertised on the product.

In 2021, consumers expect brands to reach them on a personal level. What better way to connect with consumers at these events than with promotional products?


2 – Impact and popularity of promotional products


How the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the promotional products industry in 2020 and 2021?

According to a research by NAPCO Research and Promo Marketing, the promotional products industry, which had suffered a decline following the covid outbreak in April 2020, is picking up again in 2021.

Although the trade show and event space continues to struggle due to travels and gathering restrictions, some products’ popularity is rising rapidly, in particular the Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) which include:

  • Health care – The mask is a great example of popular and good value for money PPE product. According to the ASI study, with current covid regulations, 63% of consumers wear masks all of the time when in public. 31% of consumers who come in contact with over 50 people every time they wear a logoed mask. A promotional mask is expected to generate 4,235 impressions over its anticipated lifetime, making the cost per impression of a 5$ mask, only 1/10 of a cent.
  • Branded apparel – 80% of consumers who own promotional t-shirt. A promotional tee-shirt is expected to generate 3,400 impressions throughout their lifetime, making the cost per impression of a 7$ shirt, only 2/10 of a cent.
  • Drinkware – 78% of consumers own promotional drinkware, each of them is expected to generate 1,400 impressions over its anticipated lifetime, making the cost per impression of a 7$ drinkware, only 1/2 of a cent.


Which branded  promotional products do Australians find most useful?

According to a study conducted by Promo Australia, the ranking of most useful promotional products in Australia is:

  • Promotional USB – 25.5% of voters. A promotional USB is expected to generate 700 impressions throughout their lifetime, making the cost per impression of a 5$ USB, only 7/10 of a cent.
  • Promotional pens – 24.6% of voters. A promotional pen is expected to generate 3,000 impressions throughout their lifetime, making the cost per impression of a $1 logoed pen, less than 1/10 of a cent.
  • Promotional bags – 12.2% of voters. A promotional bag is expected to generate 3,300 impressions throughout their lifetime, making the cost per impression of a 5$ bag, only 2/10 of a cent.
  • Promotional stubby holders, mugs, bottles – 9.9%.
  • Promotional umbrellas – 9.2% of voters.
  • Promotional caps and balls – 7.1% of voters. A promotional headwear is expected to generate 3,400 impressions throughout their lifetime, making the cost per impression of a 10$ headwear, only 3/10 of a cent.
  • Promotional keyrings – 6.3% of voters.
  • Promotional stress shapes products – 5.2% of voters.


3 – Why are promo items kept?


According to the APPA 2019 and ASI Central researches:

  • Close to 2/3 of respondents keep a promotional merchandise between one and 4+ years.
  • More than half of them keep the corporate promotional product for more than a year
  • More than 40% of consumers keep their promotional item more than 10 years
  • Respondents who are finished with their item will typically give it to someone else, thus giving the product another life cycle and another impressions cycle.

In more concrete terms, how long and why are the most popular promotional items kept?

They are kept between 3 months and one year on average, according to the type of product, and a combination of three main factors: quality, attractiveness, and utility.

Here are the longevity and factors combination for the most popular branded merchandise:

  • Pens and other promotional writing instruments are kept for 9 months on average, mainly for their quality.
  • Promotional bags are kept for 11 months on average, mainly for their quality and their utility
  • Promotional apparels such as tees are kept for 14 months on average, mainly for their quality and their attractiveness
  • Promotional caps and other headwear are kept for 10 months on average, mainly for their quality and attractiveness
  • More than half promotional calendars are kept for 1 year or more on average, mainly for their utility and attractiveness.
  • Promotional USBs are kept for 13 months on average, mainly for their utility.
  • Promotional drinkware are kept for 12 months on average mainly for their quality and their utility
  • Promotional masks are kept for more than 3 months by more than half the consumers, for their quality



There is no need to spend large budgets to get a return on investment. Investing in business gifts and corporate promotional products is cheap and easy.

Engaging with your customers in a personalised way means you can convert them in brand ambassadors, visually because they are wearing your brand, and emotionally because they appreciate your gesture. These promotional merchandise will generate a large number of impressions at a cheaper cost than some digital marketing campaigns would.

These corporate gifts are also an amazing way of rewarding your employees and your suppliers. It’s all about retaining talents in a productive way: they get a business gift while promoting the brand.

Another advantage of promotional gifts is there is a large range for you to choose from, according to your budget: PPE (masks etc.), apparels, but also smaller items such as key chains, magnets, pens etc.

Giving away something for free—even if it costs you just pennies per item—can go a long way with your customers.

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