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Boosting your brand with promotional products and merchandise

Promotional products is a big business. It was recently reported that the promotional products industry did over $24 billion in sales annually. Given that we’re now living in such a digital age, this seems like a huge figure. In this article, we explore the value of promotional products and how to use it to your advantage.


If you ask me what the best piece of merchandise I’ve ever received is, I know the answer instantly; a helium-filled inflatable chicken at an agricultural event that I once attended (where our team had designed and built the stand for one of our clients). (Also I know what you’re thinking, another Turbine Creative poultry reference, I apologise).

On this day, those balloons were the must-have item of the exhibition hall. Their branded, inflatable bodies proudly bobbed around the hall, above the heads of their pleased new owners who were either going to take them home for their children, or to take them back to the office where their colleagues would laugh and then enquire as to who the genius organisation is, whose logo was boldly printed on the chicken’s wing.

Given that I wasn’t a delegate at the event, I wasn’t actually brave enough to swipe one of those sought-after helium handouts, but in hindsight I probably wasn’t missing out. If we want to talk about awesome merchandise we ought to take a look at the Oscars. In 2021, Covid caused many awards shows to scale back celebrations. But despite this, the goodie bags at the Oscars definitely did not take a hit.

Last year the bags included goods from companies who ‘embrace diversity, inclusion, health and philanthropy’ and included freebies such as: a four-night stay at the number one spa in the world, a plastic surgery procedure, and a “cookbook” which enables recipients to scan a QR code and have food delivered straight from local restaurants.

The list goes on and includes a huge and varied array of extravagant goodies including clothes, artwork and cosmetics. The goodie bags were put together by Distinctive Assets and despite their six-figure value Lash Fary, founder of Distinctive Assets, stated that the impressive figure was neither their focus or goal, as the positive messaging of the companies involved “represents a lot more than just a bag full of free stuff.”

It's worth taking a step back and considering why and how on earth these crazily extravagant goodie bags are put together and given away for free.

On their website, Distinctive Assets describe themselves as a “niche marketing company offering celebrity placement and branding opportunities within the entertainment industry.” They then go on to describe that they connect products and services with celebrities and influencers in order to create buzz-worthy content for the press.

And it’s clearly working. The organisations that they work with are seeing huge success and explain that the visibility of their products and services at events has resulted in whirlwind success,” “impressive ROI,” and impressive, quantifiable results through increased web traffic and product sales.


So you might not have £100,000s to invest, but how can you play a part in the promotional merchandise game, which is delivering such impactful results to organisations?

With events becoming more viable and increasing popular, we are loving the opportunity to meet people face to face. For too long, we’ve missed out on the opportunity to have real human interaction during conversations and we can’t wait to get back out at more events and exhibitions throughout the rest of the year. Three-quarters of consumers say that promotional products make their experiences more memorable, which explains why exhibition halls are always awash with branded merchandise.

Getting hold of free ‘gifts’ makes customers feel valued and increases brand memorability post-event, meaning that if the item is used time and time again it’s frequently putting your brand at the forefront of your customer’s mind.

On the flipside, we’re also aware that many customer interactions are still being conducted virtually and there are many prospective customers that, in our increasingly digital-world, we just haven’t met in person yet. For similar reasons, promotional products can be a great way of increasing brand awareness and building brand equity amongst your audience. In fact, it’s been reported that 85% of product recipients did business with the advertiser who gave them the item.

But what products work? The inflatable chicken is perhaps a bit niche and the four-night spa break maybe a bit out of budget. The market is arguably oversaturated with an overwhelming selection of products that can be customised and branded to market your organisation. From the more typical pens, stationery and mugs through to novelty stress toys and edible treats – the world is pretty much your oyster when it comes to branded merchandise.

Importance of Sustainability

With sustainability increasingly on everyone’s minds, 46% of consumers said that they’d have a more favourable view of organisations that use eco-friendly promotional products. And we totally support that; when considering merchandise for marketing campaigns, we want to use sustainable products wherever possible. For the customers that we work with, it helps show that as an organisation you’re making responsible choices and are contributing to a greener society.

In addition, we want you to be able to give your customers and prospective customers items that are genuinely useful or enjoyable, and add real value to their days – whether that’s their work life or personal life. Items that support working from home are going to continue to be useful for the foreseeable future – think desk items, calendars, phone and tech accessories. If Covid sticks around for a while longer, branded face masks and hand sanitisers might be worth considering, as they’ll certainly get used. And finally, it’s important to remember to consider your audience’s needs and habits, and what they’ll really appreciate. Delegates in sports might appreciate items that support their active lifestyle such as bags and good quality drinks bottles. And there may be ways you can add a little surprise and delight to your customer’s days - such as selfcare items for those in healthcare, like branded hand creams or lip balms. You don’t need to have large budgets to choose items that make customers feel valued and will bring about a smile.

So final thoughts from us are: make sure it’s relevant. Choose items that tie-in with your overall marketing campaign, that are genuinely useful to your audience and which are kind to the planet. If you get it right, chances are the recipient will keep hold of your product – whether that’s on their desk, in their kitchen cupboard or in their laptop bag – meaning that they have a constant reminder of your brand, the solutions you offer, and the conversations you’ve had so far.


Would you like to discuss how to increase brand or campaign awareness through promotional products? Drop us a line, we love to talk.

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