Marketers spending more on promotional merchandise

Nearly half of marketers have increased spend on promotional merchandise since the last financial year, according to new research to be unveiled at Marketing Week Live.


The study, carried out by an independent research company on behalf of the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA), involved polling marketers across a range of sectors.

Key findings include the fact that 83% of senior marketers plan to increase or maintain spend on promotional merchandise from this year to next, and that 49 per cent of respondents increased spend on promotional products since the last financial year.

When asked about the main reasons why merchandise is used in sales and marketing campaigns, as opposed to other incentives, 69% said that it is because it targets customers effectively” and 46% because the “brand message lasts longer.”

Nearly three quarters of the poll said that promotional merchandise was bought for use at conferences and events and 63% for “brand awareness and rebranding.”

The top three promotional items bought by marketers are:

  • Pens
  • Pads, notebooks and Post-Its
  • Canvas shopping bags or eco bags

BPMA board director Stephen Barker says: “The fact that useful products top the list of those items most purchased highlights that there is widespread recognition among marketers of the ways in which merchandise can bring longevity to promotional campaigns and is therefore and effective brand awareness tool.”

Learn more about this research at Marketing Week Live on 27 and 28 June. The event at London Olympia is free for registrants. Click here to learn more.

Readers' comments (10)

  • The British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) publishes research that says that 83% of senior marketers plan to increase or maintain spend on promotional merchandise from this year to next.

    Call me cynical, but...

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  • but what?

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  • Promotional merchandise is such an unsophisticated form of marketing, particularly in the B2B space.

    It encourages sales people to demand it from their marketing department but nothing about promotional merchandise allows a business to demonstrate that it is an expert in its field.

    I me cynical, but.....

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  • I didn't think promotional merchandise was about showing you have an expert in the field but was about keeping your name in front of your prosepects and customers. Surely once given the opportunity to provide the product / service you are offering it's up to the business giving them out that to prove they are the best in their field.

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  • There will always be a place for promotional merchandise. If used effectively, it can become a strong talking point. Not to mention a collectible if clever and unique by design.

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  • The BPMA's latest research suggests that, during recession, promotional merchandise is a cost effective way of raising brand awareness.

    Indeed, popular items like pens, pads and shopping bags can be used or passed onto someone else at home or in the office, helping to keep the brand alive. With the right shape and the right artwork, a simple post-it can be extremely effective.

    However, promotional merchandise often falls short of its potential ROI because of a lack of planning and unrealistic timeframes for development. If it materialises as a mere afterthought, the week before an event for example, this will push up production costs significantly and limit room for creativity.

    The best campaigns are on the agenda at the first meeting, and come from a collaborative approach between brand, creative and production experts who do their homework, share their ideas and work together to ensure that the product is not only attractive, but also cost effective and aligned to the proposition.

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  • I think anyone who visited Marketing Week Live over the past 2 days will see that Promotional Merchandise is now very much part of the Marketing Mix.

    The industry no longer wants to be an after thought, when marketers are planning there projects, we want to be involved from the beginning so we can show just what can be achieved with a well thought out, targeted campaign.

    I would like to challenge the poster who called merchandise "unsophisticated" to contact one of the many distributors, the BPMA or myself so we can show you just how "sophisticated" we can make a give away.

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  • Promotional merchandise just like any other form of marketing activity is just another part of the mix. Used correctly and in the right format it can be a highly successful way in which to promote your brand.

    Recently, so many companies have focused on social media etc. however there is nothing better than for example a well designed mug, featuring your logo and brand message which sits on your customers desk day in day out. Every time they take a sip of their favourite beverage they will be seeing your message - and all this for around a pound - great value I would say.

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  • It's exactly the same as using social media to get 'in front of the audience' - the more people see your name/brand the more likely they are to remember you when they need your products or services.

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  • More thought should be given to promotional merchandise and how to actually tie it into a marketing campaign, not just for the sake of buying it or giving it away because thats what you do. What does it actually say ?

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