MONDAY 14 SEP 2015 3:33 PM


14 September marks the beginning of Promotional Products Week. An event hosted by the British Promotional Merchandise Association (bpma), it aims to encourage promotional branded products to become a more integrated feature of company marketing campaigns. 

Freebie items and take-home gifts are a popular way of advertising a product or service. From items on magazine covers to complimentary bathroom supplies during a hotel stay, the public are drawn to largely any branded product which they can receive for absolutely free. If anything, this trend is exacerbated through the world of corporate promotion.

With three in 10 consumers purportedly willing to change from their regularly bought products to gain access to free promotional items, the UK population enjoys a branded freebie. Recent research published by bpma indicates that, across the UK, the total amount spent on promotional products by companies during 2014 was in the region of £1bn. Furthermore, 150m pens were given away at promotional events over the past year. With research suggesting that around 89% of people will keep a free branded product if it proves a useful asset, how integral these free products can become to the lives of consumers is clear.

But with some companies also willing to spend up to £5 per branded item, the lucrative rewards they can offer corporations as well as potential customers ensures items such as pens are as attractive to the producer as they are to those who receive them.

The brand recognition gained from wide availability and distribution of branded and company-specific products is invaluable in expanding the business. Co-ordinating desirable products such as tote bags and mugs with the logo and branding of a company ensures a presence in work, home and even social lives of potential customers.

Such is this infiltration that 66% of customers surveyed by bpma indicated that they could recall a brand on a promotional product as much as a year after seeing it. Economically, further research suggests a direct correlation between increased brand recognition and eventual sales. It is generally considered that the better the product, the more well-regarded the brand; thus the higher likelihood of securing a business opportunity. However, it is not just pens and mugs which prove popular to the discerning freebie collector.

While branded bags, mints and mouse mats are among the top ten most popular items the UK, more unusual products are also making their mark. Shoes polish and ice-cream are examples of other free merchandise created with a brand direction in mind, marking a decisive shift away from the monopoly of pens in promotional corporate advertising. Perhaps the most well-known giveaway toys of recent times are the meerkats associated with the Compare the Market brand, which have proved so popular that some customers are now buying them online to complete their collection.

Another television advertising campaign fronted by a collectable toy feature is insurance comparison website Brian the electronic robot was introduced by the company in 2013 in a move to enhance business through promotional toys. It too offers a free small robot toy upon purchase of new car or home insurance policy. As Gordon Gleinster, director general of bpma, says, “ Promotional gifts work.”

Promotional Products Week runs until 18 September.