The Science Behind Promotional Products

The Science Behind Promotional ProductsYou love the smell of a good cup of joe in the morning. In an early morning haze, when you’re still getting your head together, strong coffee provides a needed pick-me-up. As you gaze at that cup of brew, what is staring back at you, apart from the steam of the hot beverage? Is it the brand logo of a well-known coffee chain, the artistic design of a china set, or a memento of a recent trade show that promotes an up-and-coming brand?

If you are like 53 percent of Americans, you own drinkware with a logo on it. Chances are, you remember that company’s name, and not just because you see it on your early morning trips to the kitchen for cafe au lait. Studies show that out of the five senses, scent makes the most powerful impact on the brain. So while your eyes may see the logo, smelling the coffee makes that corporate brand all the more unforgettable.

Senses Make Advertising Successful

Advertising is intended to make a brand memorable. In order to reach that coveted spot in the consumer’s psyche, the advertising medium must appeal to the senses — sight, smell, touch, taste and sound. Promotional items, such as coffee mugs, pens, T-shirts and desk accessories, form the only advertising medium that reaches all five senses. Reaching more senses means the advertising sticks with the consumer longer.

Increasingly, brands are attaching their logos to items such as headphones and download cards. This is one way to link the sense of sound, along with sight and touch, with the brand. Because of all the ways that a consumer may interact with a branded product — by holding it, listening to it, or passing it on to a friend — the company’s information is creating a lasting impression in the consumer’s psychology.

In a consumer culture, rarely are brands that give away free items with their logo seen as “cheap” or “cheesy.” In particular, if the items provide some lasting benefit, such as a desktop accessory or a source of entertainment, consumers are likely to form positive associations with the brand that gave them the gift.

Even those items that engage smell and taste, like edible items such as candies or chocolate bars, create a lasting impression. By definition, these items are consumable and won’t live for several months in the pen receptacle in a cubicle. But in the moments before and after eating the gift from the brand, consumers will remember the company more readily than if they had merely glanced at a web ad or spotted a television advertisement. An awe-inspiring 75 percent of the Fortune 100 use edible promotional products because of this phenomenon.

Useful Items Have a Longer Shelf Life

Compared to other forms of advertising, such as online or television spots, promotional products have the power to influence consumers over a greater period of time. When consumers receive a useful product, such as a pen, USB drive, calendar or other accessory, they keep it close to them in their home or office. This long-term contact means the customer is slowly gaining familiarity with the brand. In fact, 84 percent of customers remember the name of the advertiser that gave them a product with some utility.

In addition, some items such as bags, are used in public spaces. This increases the brand impact, as random individuals are exposed to the logo on the item. Of all promotional products, bags have the greatest potential to create impressions because of their utility and the general acceptance of using a branded product in a public space. Bags make an estimated 1,038 impressions per month, followed by hats at 476 impressions. Among non-wearable products, pens made the most impressions at 363 per month.

Whether it’s drinkware, a bag, a pen, or a notepad, branded products are often appreciated by customers. The reactions they have when receiving free stuff from companies typically include gratitude and happiness. The fact that 56 percent of promotional items are kept at home, compared to a 28 percent in the office demonstrates their value to consumers.

Advertisers Receive Greater ROI on Promotional Products

Because of the extreme effectiveness of promotional products as an advertising tool, it is not surprising that a 2016 study found 50 percent of brands intend to increase their spending on these items in the next 12 months, while 47 anticipated that their spending would remain constant.

Because promotional products have such an impact on long-term brand recognition, businesses and organizations budget up to 20 percent of their marketing budget for these items. Companies use promotional products to promote specific events, day-to-day marketing, and general brand recognition.

Given that companies insist on seeing a demonstrated return on investment from their marketing spends, promotional products must be giving business increased brand recognition and revenue. According to one study, 59 percent of companies want to see that the items have met marketing objectives.

Why Does It Work?

Advertising overall is designed to enhance awareness of a company. At the same time, it should create a positive association in the mind of the consumer with the brand logo. Giving consumers a tangible, positive experience with no strings attached, is a great way to get a leg up on the competition. When thoughtfully planned out, your promotional products will connect your brand to your consumers, keeping you at the top of their minds.

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Patrick Black
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Patrick Black, MAS, is the founder of Perfectimprints.com and has been in the promotional products industry helping businesses and organizations since 1999. When not geeking out over the newest and greatest promotional items, you can find him paddleboarding at the beach or hanging out by the pool with his wife, three kids, and his basset hound in Fort Walton Beach, FL.