Promotional products have a long history – George Washington is said to have created the first promo item in 1789 with an election button. 

It’s fair to say the industry has moved on just a little since then, but the concept is still the same; give customers, clients, and colleagues branded gifts to make them remember your brand in the long term. 

How effective is it as a marketing strategy? Is it worth investing in promo products, merch, and swag?

Data is the best way to answer these, and more questions, so we’ve pulled together a comprehensive list of promotional products statistics and figures to get you up to speed on the industry. 

We’re going to look at:

  • A market overview
  • How promo products breed recognition and loyalty
  • Branded good in the workplace
  • Product-specific data

So you can plan your swag campaign with confidence. 

Ready to crunch some numbers? Let’s do this.

Table of Contents

Promotional Products Market Overview

Market Revenue Statistics

Brand Recognition & Loyalty Statistics

Brand Success Statistics

Consumer Statistics 

Employee Statistics

Promotional Products Statistics

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Promotional Products Market Overview

The market for promotional products took a knock during the pandemic, with trade shows and events canceled and marketing budgets cut initially. 

The industry is resilient, however, and distributors and manufacturers can still expect to see growth in the coming years. 

How much growth and what products do people want?

We answer these and other burning questions for those in offline and digital marketing, non-profits, and large corporations alike. 

Here are the highlights of the industry statistics we’ve curated for you:

  • Between 2020 and 2024 the predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the promotional products sector is 3%. (Spend Edge
  • Globally, 85% of people who are given a promotional item will remember the advertiser that gave it to them. (ASI Central)
  • In 2020, 21.6% of marketers used online swag bags as a marketing tool to engage virtual event attendees. (Statista)
  • Choosing the right product is key – 72% of people say that a brand’s reputation is reflected in the quality of the promo products they receive. (Promotional Products Association International, PPAI)
  • Over a product’s lifetime, outerwear like coats and jackets gets the most impressions at 6,100. (ASI Central)

Want to know more? We’re starting by looking at market revenue statistics in detail. 

Market Revenue Statistics

The merchandise, swag, and promotional products industry is big and growing, with global demand for custom items. 

Here’s how the market stacks up in numbers. 

  1. The industry for promotional products in the USA alone is worth $17 billion. (Ibis World)
  2. In 2019, the annual sales for the promo products industry were $24.2 billion just for the USA. (Statista
  3. There are more than 40,000 businesses operating in the promo products and merch industry in the USA. (Ibis World
  4. Between 2020 and 2024, the predicted compound annual growth rate (CAGR) for the promotional products sector is 3%. (Spend Edge
  5. Globally, the market size for the promotional items industry breaks down as:
    • North America – $26.3 billion
    • Europe – $23 billion
    • Asia Pacific – $17.2 billion
    • Latin America – $16.2 billion

(Beroe Inc)

Clearly, it’s a lucrative market, but why? 

Let’s look at how this advertising medium translates into brand and business success. 

Brand Recognition & Loyalty Statistics

People like swag and promo items, so getting them into the hands of your potential customers and clients is a good move. 

Getting your name out there at trade shows, events, and through a host of other channels can do wonders for your brand reaching your target audience. 

Let’s see the facts and figures on this. 

  1. Before the pandemic, businesses in the USA would attend or sponsor an average of 55 trade shows per year; there is a big audience to reach. (Statista)
  2. At trade shows, 92% of people go to discover new products, meaning it’s a great opportunity to get branded items into peoples’ hands. (CEIR)
  3. Whether at trade shows or through other channels, promotional products are the most highly regarded form of advertising. (ASI Central)
  4. Globally, 85% of people who are given a promotional item will remember the advertiser that gave it to them. (ASI Central)
  5. Elsewhere, in the UK 95% of businesses say they see corporate gifting as a vital element of their business strategy. (OnRec)
  6. Corporate gifting isn’t just seasonal; two-thirds of British businesses give gifts to their clients throughout the year. (OnRec)
  7. A quarter of businesses say that offering corporate gifts to their prospective clients helps to generate new leads, showing that it’s an effective marketing strategy. (OnRec)
  8. In 2020, 21.6% of marketers used online swag bags as a marketing tool to engage virtual event attendees. (Statista)
  9. In the same research, 13.7% of marketers used direct mail swag bags as an effective marketing tool for online events. (Statista)

How does this recognition translate into brand success?

Brand Success Statistics

Marketers need to spend money on promotional merchandise, so it’s important to know that there will be a return on investment (ROI). 

Here’s the data you need to know about how successful branded swag for promotional giveaways and brand awareness can be. 

  1. However people receive their promo products, they do like to keep them – 57% of American consumers have kept a promotional product or swag item for more than five years. (ASI Central)
  2. At least 40% of consumers have kept hold of a promo product for more than ten years – that’s a decade of brand impressions. (ASI Central)
  3. Choosing the right product is key – 72% of people say that a brand’s reputation is reflected in the quality of the promo products they receive. (PPAI)
  4. When used in social media giveaways, 62% of marketers say branded items increase brand visibility. (EasyPromos App)
  5. The same study tells us that nearly two-thirds of marketers say that branded merch used in giveaways increases followers. (EasyPromo Apps)
  6. When people take part in giveaways, 30% are open to receiving more information from the brand – giving away swag in contests are a great way to open up conversations with your audience. (Kontest)
  7. Contests, including giving away custom promotional products, have a conversion rate of 35%.  (Formstack)
  8. Merchandise is a good money earner for businesses and influencers, too; early adopters of the YouTube Merch Shelf saw an increase in merchandise sales of up to 82%. (TubeFilter)

Moving on to how consumers interact with your swag, promo, or gift item.

Consumer Statistics

Knowing how your merch consumers and target audience interact with what you offer is important to help you plan your next move and the potential ROI of your logo items. 

We’ve pulled some data to show you how people handle and think about your merch to help you understand your marketing goals. 

  1. During 2020, nearly a quarter of all consumers in the USA bought a promotional item – it’s not just about giveaways, having a merch store can be valuable. (ASI Central)
  2. From 2018 to 2019, the number of women buying environmentally friendly products jumped by 31%, meaning this is a demand that you should try and meet with your swag. (ASI Central)
  3. What’s more, nearly half of all consumers – 46% – will have a more favorable opinion of your brand if your promo products are environmentally friendly. (ASI Central
  4. Households have, on average, 30 promotional products, with slight differences between generations:
    • Millennials hit the average with 30 promo items in their home.
    • Gen X are big buyers of promotional products, with 34 items in their home.
    • Baby boomers are least likely to have items for business services in their home, with only 28 in each home. 

(ASI Central)

While consumers and branding are massively important, what’s the power of promotional products in terms of your employees?

Employee Statistics

Promotional products aren’t just about brand marketing, they can be used to instill company values with new hires and your long-standing team members. 

Offering the right tools to do the job as well as other items as part of rewards and recognition schemes can be a great motivator and boost the productivity and bottom line of your business. 

The stats for this are coming up. 

  1. According to a Deloitte study, 94% of executives and 88% of employees believe that clear workplace culture is a key component of a business’s success, which can include giving rewards, recognition, and the right tools in terms of branded products. (Deloitte
  2. Not fitting into a workplace and its culture is a reason for an unsuccessful onboarding process cited by 65% of executives. (LinkedIn)
  3. A great onboarding process, which can include giving the right branded products to get the job done, means an employee is likely to still be with a company in three years’ time. (SHRM)
  4. Organizations that have a structured and clear onboarding process see a 50% higher productivity rate from their new hires. (SHRM)
  5. Even with that, 43% of UK businesses still spend less than £50 on gifts for their employees. (OnRec)
  6. Of Gallup’s 12 measures of employee engagement, two of them directly link to the company items you give to your team: 
    • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
    • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.

(Gallup)

Not all promotional products are equal, so knowing where to spend your marketing budget is our next topic.

Promotional Products Statistics

You want your promotional items and merch to be cost-effective, so you need to know what will generate impressions and increase your brand awareness. 

Cost per impression (CPI) is the measure of the value of a product and you want as low a number as possible. 

Here’s some product-specific information to help you make data-led decisions about your merch. 

  1. Over a product lifetime, outerwear like coats and jackets get the most impressions at 6,100. (Statista)
  2. The next three highest impressions for swag are dominated by wearables:
    • T-shirts get 3,400 impressions
    • Headwear such as hats also get 3.400 impressions
    • Bags like totes and duffle bags are just a little lower with 3,300 impressions.

(Statista)

  1. The three most common promotional items to find in a US home by the rate of ownership are:

(Statista)

Let’s get into some more product-specific data. 

Promotional outerwear

  1. Over two-thirds of consumers own at least one item of promotional outerwear, such as jackets and hoodies. (ASI Central)
  2. It has a long life in the home, with the average piece of promo outerwear being kept for 16 months. (ASI Central)
  3. If your company invests in promo jackets that cost $20 each, the CPI would be one-third of a cent. (ASI Central)

Promotional t-shirts

  1. T-shirts are popular and effective as promo items; we’ve seen that four in five people own at least one and they generate 3,400 impressions – they’re also kept for an average of 14 months, so you know people value them long-term. (ASI Central)
  2. With such a high impression count, a $7 tee will give you a CPI of $0.002, that’s not a typo, it’s 2/10th of a cent per impression. (ASI Central)
  3. People keep promo t-shirts because they’re attractive – 56% of consumers cite this reason and it’s the most common reason to keep hold of a t-shirt. (ASI Central)

Promotional facemasks

  1. Before the coronavirus pandemic, facemasks were the preserve of healthcare workers, yet at the height of the pandemic in October 2020, up to 93% of Americans were wearing facemasks sometimes, often, or all the time. (HealthDay)
  2. When choosing a facemask, 39% of consumers already have a branded facemask. (ASI Central)
  3. Over a third of people would be happy to use a branded facemask on a daily basis. (ASI Central)
  4. People appreciate brands that give out facemasks; 51% would have a favorable impression of a company that gave them a logo facemask. (ASI Central)
  5. Even better, 57% of consumers are more likely to choose to do business with a company that gives out promo masks. (ASI Central)
  6. In terms of the value of those face masks, each one generates 4,235 impressions over its lifetime. (ASI Central)
  7. If a facemask costs small businesses $5, they can expect to see a CPI of $0.001, which is very valuable indeed. (ASI Central)

Promotional tech items

  1. Tech items are becoming more popular with consumers but it seems they like to keep it simple, 56% would still choose a USB stick over a power bank. (ASI Central)
  2. An impressive 58% of consumers already own a promotional USB stick. (ASI Central)
  3. Why do they keep them? Because they’re useful! 56% of consumers said that usefulness was a reason that they kept hold of a USB. (ASI Central)
  4. Power banks still have a place in the tech product category, with a third of consumers owning a promotional power bank. (ASI Central)
  5. They tend to be kept for 12 months, on average and will generate 900 impressions during that time, giving a CPI of one cent for a $10 item. (ASI Central)
  6. In the UK, 28% of corporate gift receivers prefer tech-based items. (OnRec)

Promotional bags and totes

  1. We know bags like rucksacks and totes are popular  – and eco-friendly – and 73% of consumers own a promotional bag of some kind. (ASI Central)
  2. Promo bags get kept for around 11 months on average and we’ve seen that they generate 3,300 impressions over that time. (ASI Central)
  3. The CPI of a $5 bag will be as low as $0.002 – again, not a typo, it really is two-tenths of a cent! (ASI Central)

That’s 57 things you need to know about swag and promotional products, let’s wrap this up and jump over to some of your frequently asked questions.

Now Over to You

That’s a lot of information to take in, right? 

There are different aspects to consider when planning the promo products, swag, and merch that you want to give away or sell. 

Getting to grips with the promotional products industry to cater to your team, clients, or target audience is an advertising specialty that your marketing team will need a hand with. 

Here at PRG, we’ve been working in the promotional products industry for decades –  you can tap into our knowledge and expertise as well as this list of data to figure out your next swag step. 

Want to chat about your needs?

Contact us using the form below – after the FAQs – and we’ll get in touch to discuss how we can work together.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Hopefully, you’re a lot better informed about the promotional products industry now. 

If you’ve still got questions, we’ve got the answers. 

Q1. How big is the promotional product industry?

Globally excluding Africa and the Middle East, the promotional products industry is worth up to $85.5 billion. Across markets, it breaks down to North America worth $26.3 billion, Europe worth $23 billion, Asia Pacific worth $17.2 billion, and Latin America worth $16.2 billion.

Q2. How much money is spent annually on promotional products?

In the USA, annual product sales for promotional items totaled $24.4 billion. The industry is expected to have a CAGR of 3% between 2020 and 2024. 

Q3. What are the top promotional products?

The top promotional products when it comes to CPI are outerwear, t-shirts, hats, and bags. However, if you’re looking at the promotional products that people keep around the house, promotional writing instruments are in 89% of homes, t-shirts in 80%, and drinkware in 78% of American homes. 

Q4. What percentage of companies use promotional products to advertise their company?

There is no data on exactly how many companies use promotional products since they cover such a wide range of activities, both for internal business use and for marketing to potential consumers. 

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