What are the most popular promotional products?

What are the most popular promotional products?

What are the most popular promotional products?

Well, I don't think you'll be surprised with the answer - t-shirts. You probably have a few at home right now. According to the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) about 35% of all promotional items sold fall under the apparel category with t-shirts being the largest winner by far. I mean who doesn't love a cool t-shirt with an awesome graphic or catchy quote.

Adam Nash, on his blog about psychohistory, had an interesting take on the classic t-shirt. He argued that companies should definitely be using t-shirts for incentives, creating limited editions to establish seniority, and to help foster what he calls "Tribal Cohesion":

...people want to wear the brand of their tribe. They will wear [t-shirts] everywhere if you let them. Let them...make shirts for your developers, your fans, your early adopters. Long before they become vocal advocates for your brand, they will gladly showcase it if you let them.
— https://adamnash.blog/2010/11/29/why-t-shirts-matter/

T-shirts will always be a powerful promotional item. But enough about the power of the almighty t-shirt, that's not why you are here reading this article. You want to see the latest, buzz-worthy promotional items that will make you look like a marketing genius. So what are the most popular promotional products?

Look at Retail Trends

Yep, you can always bet that if something is trending in the retail space then it is definitely going to be a big hit on the show floor.

One example this year was how popular S'well reusable water bottles became, first in retail then in promotional items market. What makes their product stand out how the bottle allows beverages to be hot for up to 12 hours and cold for up to 24 hours because of the vaccuum insulated design. Pretty soon I saw similar products in the advertising specialty industry everywhere. Not exactly the same as S’well but the concept was there.

 Stainless Steel Outer And Inner | Double Wall Construction For Insulation Of Hot And Cold Liquids | Vacuum Insulated | Screw On, Spill-Resistant Lid | Wide Mouth Opening | Keeps Drinks Cold Up To 24 Hours And Hot Up To 12 Hours | Meets FDA Requirements | BPA Free | Hand Wash Recommended   Go to Item

Stainless Steel Outer And Inner | Double Wall Construction For Insulation Of Hot And Cold Liquids | Vacuum Insulated | Screw On, Spill-Resistant Lid | Wide Mouth Opening | Keeps Drinks Cold Up To 24 Hours And Hot Up To 12 Hours | Meets FDA Requirements | BPA Free | Hand Wash Recommended

Go to Item

Pop-Sockets are another retail product that hit the promo products market big this year. In case you haven't seen one, it's an expandable device that sticks flat to the back of your phone or tablet as a media stand or easier grip for taking photos or video chat. And yep, you can definitely brand your logo all over their product. Some companies even use them as a promotional gifts to their clients.

 A PopSockets® sticks flat to the back of your phone, tablet or case with its rinsable, reposition-able gel. Once extended, the PopSockets® becomes a media stand for your device, a photo or texting grip, or lower it for a video chat. The possibilities are endless with PopSockets®, and with full color imprinting, so are the imprint possibilities. The back of anyone's phone is prime real estate for any promotion, and the best part is that PopSockets® can be used on almost any brand of phone or phone case. *For best results, use in conjunction with a phone case.

A PopSockets® sticks flat to the back of your phone, tablet or case with its rinsable, reposition-able gel. Once extended, the PopSockets® becomes a media stand for your device, a photo or texting grip, or lower it for a video chat. The possibilities are endless with PopSockets®, and with full color imprinting, so are the imprint possibilities. The back of anyone's phone is prime real estate for any promotion, and the best part is that PopSockets® can be used on almost any brand of phone or phone case. *For best results, use in conjunction with a phone case.

Believe it or not, fanny packs starting becoming super popular in the last year. According to the Boston Globe in 2018 in an article entitled, "Fanny Packs: They're In Vogue. We're Not Lying",

In case you haven’t heard: After decades as the poster accessory for the binoculars-and-tall-white-socks crowd, fanny packs have now been blessed by the beautiful people...So many celebrities have bowed to the pack’s power — Kim Kardashian West, Rihanna, Jaden Smith, NBA star Russell Westbrook, to name just a fraction...
— https://www.bostonglobe.com/news/nation/2018/07/24/fanny-packs-are-front-and-center-again-for-stylish-and-brave/aEUQTsvwxucrgRlfesmGcM/story.html

Why not consider staying on trend with a fashionable custom fanny pack of your own?

 Looking for a fanny pack you can custom print with your own unique design in full color? Then this custom sewn dye sublimated fanny pack is exactly what you've been looking for to rep your awesome design.

Looking for a fanny pack you can custom print with your own unique design in full color? Then this custom sewn dye sublimated fanny pack is exactly what you've been looking for to rep your awesome design.

These are just three examples but chances are if you want to buy something in retail, you can bet your target audience would love to get one for free with your brand logo all over that trade show giveaway. My suggestion, find something in retail you think connects with your target audience and then get your own version branded for your business.

Find Attention Grabbers

Okay, you might already have your personal opinion about how silly some promotional giveaways seem. But before you get all high and mighty and judgmental don't slam those wacky, fun attention grabbers you see all over the convention floor.

I remember during one trade show seeing a promo item called the flying shrieking monkey being used by hundreds of people on the trade show floor. Can't tell you how many trade show attendees lined up to get their own monkey to try out. It's fun, it's crazy, and sometimes you've got to lighten up a bit. Don't be afraid to try something silly as long as it fits your brand.

 Why monkey around with boring promotions, when our Flying Shrieking Monkey will help your message soar?! Shoot it across the room and it screams back at you!

Why monkey around with boring promotions, when our Flying Shrieking Monkey will help your message soar?! Shoot it across the room and it screams back at you!

Right now I can think of a few branded items that would be awesome attention grabbers:

Fidget Spinners - don't slam it until you try it.

 Spin Between Thumb And Middle Finger. Perfect For Reducing Stress And Boredom. Encourages Focus And Self-Soothing For Users With Anxiety, Attention Disorders And More. Fun For All Ages (5+). Small Size Is Great For Pocket Or Purse.

Spin Between Thumb And Middle Finger. Perfect For Reducing Stress And Boredom. Encourages Focus And Self-Soothing For Users With Anxiety, Attention Disorders And More. Fun For All Ages (5+). Small Size Is Great For Pocket Or Purse.

MopTopper Pens - it's wacky but fun to write with.

 ABS plastic click-action ballpoint pen with smiley face, tie-shaped clip, and mop-top hair. Long-lasting microfiber hair functions as a screen cleaner. Soft silicone tip for use with touchscreen devices. Includes black, medium-point ink. MopTopper® is patented.

ABS plastic click-action ballpoint pen with smiley face, tie-shaped clip, and mop-top hair. Long-lasting microfiber hair functions as a screen cleaner. Soft silicone tip for use with touchscreen devices. Includes black, medium-point ink. MopTopper® is patented.

Sublimated Socks - sublimated with full color graphics.

 Add your brand to an everyday wardrobe essential - Sublimated Blackout Socks - and spread your advertising message. Add your logo and start your promotion. Optional sock packaging now available at $0.30 per pair.  Graphic prints side to side as opposed to front and back.

Add your brand to an everyday wardrobe essential - Sublimated Blackout Socks - and spread your advertising message. Add your logo and start your promotion. Optional sock packaging now available at $0.30 per pair. Graphic prints side to side as opposed to front and back.

Think Practical

One trick to help you find practical giveaway items is to ask yourself if you would be excited to get one yourself. And would you actually use it if you picked it up from a convention?

Awhile ago, I picked up a customized journal book from a booth during a conference that made it's way back to the office. I ended up using it for meeting notes at the office. Very simple but I got a lot of use out of it.

Try thinking about what your typical consumers like to do out-of-the office. If they are into working out, there are several products that are very practical for an athlete:

Protein shakers - it's an essential to every athlete.

 Shake up your favorite protein powder, sports drink powder or water flavor additive with the colored, shaker ball. Non-spill, snap-closure lid. BPA free. 24oz.

Shake up your favorite protein powder, sports drink powder or water flavor additive with the colored, shaker ball. Non-spill, snap-closure lid. BPA free. 24oz.

Running belts - keeps them safe and helps them not worry about that pesky smart phone.

 Large Front Zippered Pocket | Inside Key Pocket | Built-In Slot For Earbuds | Adjustable Elastic Waist Strap | 41" Maximum Belt Size | Spot Clean/Air Dry

Large Front Zippered Pocket | Inside Key Pocket | Built-In Slot For Earbuds | Adjustable Elastic Waist Strap | 41" Maximum Belt Size | Spot Clean/Air Dry

Drawstring Bags - I use mine all the time to carry my gym clothes and shoes.

 Open main compartment with drawstring closure. Zippered front pocket with accent stitched. Hidden pull out mesh water bottle pocket. On trend graphic print on bottom.

Open main compartment with drawstring closure. Zippered front pocket with accent stitched. Hidden pull out mesh water bottle pocket. On trend graphic print on bottom.

Or if your target audience travels frequently, these promotional products work well:

Travel pouches - super useful for throwing in charging cables, loose coins, even business cards

 Full color imprint on both sides of this zippered travel pouch make it the perfect promotional product for anyone who travels. Great for carrying everything from business cards, keys, make-up, lip balm, snacks, etc. Starts with a white fabric that is custom dye sublimated to give it a retail look.

Full color imprint on both sides of this zippered travel pouch make it the perfect promotional product for anyone who travels. Great for carrying everything from business cards, keys, make-up, lip balm, snacks, etc. Starts with a white fabric that is custom dye sublimated to give it a retail look.

Fold-up tote bags - very helpful when traveling since it's something portable and reusable.

 Pack it in with this fun, unique tote that's perfect for the grocery store or farmers market. Tote folds into a carrying pouch with drawstring, has 18" shoulder straps and is PVC free. When folded, pouch dimensions approx: 5"H x 12" dia. This product is kid-friendly/CPSIA compliant.

Pack it in with this fun, unique tote that's perfect for the grocery store or farmers market. Tote folds into a carrying pouch with drawstring, has 18" shoulder straps and is PVC free. When folded, pouch dimensions approx: 5"H x 12" dia. This product is kid-friendly/CPSIA compliant.

Luggage spotters - definitely useful for those who travel often

 Your bags will stand out with this neoprene wrap for luggage handles and it will make the grip more comfortable.

Your bags will stand out with this neoprene wrap for luggage handles and it will make the grip more comfortable.

Umbrellas - when it rains there is no better companion.

 Manual opening. Polyester canopy with matching color case. 3-section folding metal shaft. Ergonomic matte black plastic handle with wrist strap. Folds to only 9" long.

Manual opening. Polyester canopy with matching color case. 3-section folding metal shaft. Ergonomic matte black plastic handle with wrist strap. Folds to only 9" long.

Everyday life activities like going to the store, making coffee in the morning, or writing notes at your desk may seem mundane but people will be more prone to use and reuse your marketing swag like the following products:

Reusable grocery bags - it's almost a staple these days.

 Made Of 80 Gram Non-Woven, Coated Water-Resistant Polypropylene | Recyclable | Reusable And Hand Washable | Reinforced 20" Handles | 10" Gusset With Matching Covered Bottom Insert | Great For Grocery Stores, Markets, Book Stores, Etc.

Made Of 80 Gram Non-Woven, Coated Water-Resistant Polypropylene | Recyclable | Reusable And Hand Washable | Reinforced 20" Handles | 10" Gusset With Matching Covered Bottom Insert | Great For Grocery Stores, Markets, Book Stores, Etc.

Coffee mugs - who doesn't need a great coffee mug?

 Cozy ceramic mug with matte finish body. Natural wooden lid also works as a coaster. Choose between color imprinting or our new cutting edge dishwasher safe laser decorating method. . 14oz.

Cozy ceramic mug with matte finish body. Natural wooden lid also works as a coaster. Choose between color imprinting or our new cutting edge dishwasher safe laser decorating method. . 14oz.

Sticky notes - I love jotting down quick things I need to remember.

 Sticky Flags In 5 Neon Colors | Sticky Notes | Tuck In Closure | Compact Case

Sticky Flags In 5 Neon Colors | Sticky Notes | Tuck In Closure | Compact Case

Promotional pens - don't know about you but I use a pen everyday.

 Classic design meets corporate needs in this dual ballpoint stylus pen. Soft rubber stylus tip is integrated into the end cap of the pen for use on touchscreen devices including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android OS tablets or Smartphones. Also ideal for ATM or retail payment pads. Includes premium blue ballpoint ink cartridge.

Classic design meets corporate needs in this dual ballpoint stylus pen. Soft rubber stylus tip is integrated into the end cap of the pen for use on touchscreen devices including iPhone, iPad, Blackberry and Android OS tablets or Smartphones. Also ideal for ATM or retail payment pads. Includes premium blue ballpoint ink cartridge.

I bet you didn't know that 81% of consumers report keeping their promotional giveaways for more than a year according to the Promotional Products Association (PPAI) consumer study. Handing out practical products goes a long way for brand recognition.

Be Instantly Helpful

During any event, some of the most popular promotional items are the ones that are instantly helpful to the attendees.

Nimlock, a large manufacturer of exhibits gave some great advice on their blog regarding this subject:

One of the most important functions of a trade show giveaway is its ability to resonate with your clients and prospects. While unique and fun trade show giveaways are always a great way to generate interest in your brand, practical giveaway items can present more value to visitors, creating greater long-term impact.
— http://nimloktradeshowmarketing.com/top-10-trade-show-giveaways/

Thinking about the details of the consumers business trip will help you figure out how to provide something instantly helpful like:

  • the show venue,

  • the local weather,

  • scheduled event activities

  • how extensive travel will be

Putting yourself in their shoes makes some otherwise boring products seem like winners.

Here are a few popular promotional items I think get overlooked to generate some brand awareness:

Sports Bottles - so much cheaper to fill up then paying $4.50 for a bottle of water at the convention.

 BPA Free Proposition 65 Compliant Contains No Lead Made With PET Material Meets FDA Requirements Flavor Your Beverage With Your Choice Of Fresh Fruit Or Herbs Easy Carry Handle Screw On, Spill-Resistant Sip Top Lid Usable With Or Without Infuser Chamber Does Not Retain Odor Or Taste Not For Hot Liquid Use Made In The USA Hand Wash Recommended

BPA Free Proposition 65 Compliant Contains No Lead Made With PET Material Meets FDA Requirements Flavor Your Beverage With Your Choice Of Fresh Fruit Or Herbs Easy Carry Handle Screw On, Spill-Resistant Sip Top Lid Usable With Or Without Infuser Chamber Does Not Retain Odor Or Taste Not For Hot Liquid Use Made In The USA Hand Wash Recommended

Journals - they should be writing down what they are learning at the convention anyways right?

 Flexible cover with built in elastic closure. Ribbon page marker. Document pocket on interior back cover. Includes 80 sheets of lined paper.

Flexible cover with built in elastic closure. Ribbon page marker. Document pocket on interior back cover. Includes 80 sheets of lined paper.

SmartPhone Wallet - so easy to stuff a few business cards in the back for those networking after hour events.

 Adheres To Back Of Your Phone With Strong Adhesive | Perfect For Carrying Identification, Room Keys, Cash Or Credit Cards | Silicone Material

Adheres To Back Of Your Phone With Strong Adhesive | Perfect For Carrying Identification, Room Keys, Cash Or Credit Cards | Silicone Material

Tote bags - let's face it they need something to carry all that material they receive. My advice would be that the biggest promotional bags will always win, hands down! Besides being walking billboards, they are super useful.

 This item features our innovative sublimation printing process that allows for  photo quality  design across the entire bag. You can either create your own design, or choose from our selection of stock patterns  The Full Color Sublimated Non-Woven Tote features long handles with large size, and a large 8" gusset.

This item features our innovative sublimation printing process that allows for photo quality design across the entire bag. You can either create your own design, or choose from our selection of stock patterns

The Full Color Sublimated Non-Woven Tote features long handles with large size, and a large 8" gusset.

Hand sanitizer - hey, these are key for us germaphobes out there.

 Features a convenient clip top, light scented, FDA Approved, and fits in your pocket or purse.

Features a convenient clip top, light scented, FDA Approved, and fits in your pocket or purse.

Lip Balm - very useful for some conference destinations

 If you are looking for a full color wrap logo on a flavored SPF 15 lip balm, this is the product. Your brand can be labeled on 6 different flavors:  •Peppermint,  •Natural,  •Cherry, •Spearmint,  •Tropical  or •Vanilla  Each custom imprinted full color lip balm is safety sealed.

If you are looking for a full color wrap logo on a flavored SPF 15 lip balm, this is the product. Your brand can be labeled on 6 different flavors:

•Peppermint,
•Natural,
•Cherry,
•Spearmint,
•Tropical
or •Vanilla

Each custom imprinted full color lip balm is safety sealed.

Create an Experience

Have you ever attended a concert where you get those goose bumps running down your arm? Sounds cheesy but people in large crowds love connecting with each other as a tribe with something in common. Whether it is everyone singing a favorite song together or wearing the same items, the affects can be memorable.

Here are few items that you can not only put your logo on but that will also create an experience and brand recognition:

Light up bracelets - they can really liven up an outdoor networking event.

 Stay Safely Visible While Running, Walking, Biking, Etc. Two Different Light Settings One Size Fits Most Push Button To Turn On/Off Button Cell Batteries Included

Stay Safely Visible While Running, Walking, Biking, Etc. Two Different Light Settings One Size Fits Most Push Button To Turn On/Off Button Cell Batteries Included

Flip Flops - give them some permission to relax

 Add your full-color design to these sublimated flip flops for a truly unique promotion. Your company is sure to stand out with this unique idea- customize now!

Add your full-color design to these sublimated flip flops for a truly unique promotion. Your company is sure to stand out with this unique idea- customize now!

Sunglasses - maybe try the glow-in-the-dark version

 All Glass Frames Glow Green Clear Lenses For Visibility Anytime! Made Of Polycarbonate Material UV400 Lenses Provide 100% UVA And UVB Protection Great For Night Events And Parties! Expose To Normal Light For 30 Seconds To Charge Before Use

All Glass Frames Glow Green
Clear Lenses For Visibility Anytime!
Made Of Polycarbonate Material
UV400 Lenses Provide 100% UVA And UVB Protection
Great For Night Events And Parties!
Expose To Normal Light For 30 Seconds To Charge Before Use

Multi-functional buffs - great item for team building

multi-buff.png

Wine tumbler - sure to help some conversations go smoother

 10 Oz. Double Wall Tumbler | The Perfect Partner for Boating, Golf, Pool, Beach or Any Outdoor Activity! | AS Material | Meets FDA Requirements | BPA Free | Wine Glass Shaped Inner Wall | Hand Wash Only | Double Wall Construction For Insulation of Liquids | Snap-On Lid with Thumb-Slide Opening

10 Oz. Double Wall Tumbler | The Perfect Partner for Boating, Golf, Pool, Beach or Any Outdoor Activity! | AS Material | Meets FDA Requirements | BPA Free | Wine Glass Shaped Inner Wall | Hand Wash Only | Double Wall Construction For Insulation of Liquids | Snap-On Lid with Thumb-Slide Opening

Rally towels - get that crowd cheering!

 Hand Towel with full sublimation. measures 11" x 18", made of 55% microfiber polyester / 45% polyethylene.

Hand Towel with full sublimation. measures 11" x 18", made of 55% microfiber polyester / 45% polyethylene.

Be Your Brand

Social media has connected consumers with the brands they love on a whole new level. In a way, companies can have so much more personality and dimension to their audience then in years past with Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and Facebook. The company can connect and build relationships on a completely personal level.

You might find some inspiration from other companies doing this really well. Hannah Abrams and Brendan Menapace, both bloggers for Promo Marketing Magazine, have pointed out a few companies doing this really well.

For example, Taco Bell sold onesies and ugly sweaters for fans (see original post). KFC upped it's game for street wear (see original post). Pepsi did it's own limited edition branded footwear (see original post). NASA did some killer Vans exclusive shoes (see original post).

Photo Gallery of Corporate Merch

One favorite of mine is a Geico Bobble Head I received at a trade show. My whole family got a kick out of seeing our favorite reptile’s head bounce around.

 Geico’s Genius Custom Bobble Head Merch  Credit:  Geico Store

Geico’s Genius Custom Bobble Head Merch

Credit: Geico Store

But by creating limited edition corporate gifts, companies generate brand recognition and loyalty with their existing fans and potentially consumers on the fence. Let them join the crew by repping your logo on unique, fun branded merch.

My suggestion is to come up with your own line of corporate swag. Start with the basics:

Hats - personally I’m a fan of the New ERA Mesh Back.

trucker-cap.png

T-Shirts - Love the 50/50 classic cotton t-shirt.

 5.5 Oz. | 50/50 Cotton/Poly | Made With Up To 5% Recycled Polyester From Plastic Bottles | Safety Green And Safety Orange Are Compliant With ANSI/ISEA 107 High Visibility Standards For Background Color   Go to item

5.5 Oz. | 50/50 Cotton/Poly | Made With Up To 5% Recycled Polyester From Plastic Bottles | Safety Green And Safety Orange Are Compliant With ANSI/ISEA 107 High Visibility Standards For Background Color

Go to item

Hoodie - essential for anyone.

 Customize this tagless Delta Adult Unisex French Terry Fleece Zip Hoodie from Bagmasters by adding your silkscreen design to the left chest. Customize now!   Go to item

Customize this tagless Delta Adult Unisex French Terry Fleece Zip Hoodie from Bagmasters by adding your silkscreen design to the left chest. Customize now!

Go to item

You'll be surprised how many clients are willing to wear branded promotional products from you.

To sum it up, look at retail for product trends that might work, don't be afraid of using wacky attention grabbers, think practical, be instantly helpful, and most important of all - be your brand.

Still want more ideas? Check out our Top 100 products at Bagmasters.com.

Why Use Custom Branded Backpacks In Marketing?

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Customer Spotlight: Plan Uno - Reusable Food Bags Promote Branding During Home Deliveries

Customer Spotlight: Plan Uno - Reusable Food Bags Promote Branding During Home Deliveries