Products and Uses
The giving of gifts goes back throughout the history of man. Gifts would be, and still are, given for various reasons including: to welcome, for appreciation and for celebration. In the late 20th century a new industry evolved around the concept of giving gifts. As industry and commerce recognised the benefits that could be gained by a company & corporate organisation in giving gifts to existing and prospective customers. Promotional merchandise is now used globally to promote brands, products & corporate identity. They are also used as giveaways at events like exhibitions and product launches.
Almost anything can be branded with a company’s name or logo and used for promotion. Common items include t-shirts, caps, keychains, posters, bumper stickers, pens, mugs, or mouse pads. The largest product category for promotional products is wearable items, which make up more than 30% of the total.
Most promotional items are relatively small and inexpensive, but can range to higher-end items; for example celebrities at film festivals and award shows are often given expensive promotional items such as expensive perfumes, leather goods, and electronics items. Companies that provide expensive gifts for celebrity attendees often ask that the celebrities allow a photo to be taken of them with the gift item, which can be used by the company for promotional purposes. Other companies provide luxury gifts such as handbags or scarves to celebrity attendees in the hopes that the celebrities will wear these items in public, thus garnering publicity for the company’s brand name and product.
Brand awareness is the most common use for promotional items at 12.59%. Other objectives that marketers use promotional items and corporate gifts for includes employee relations and events, trade shows traffic-building, public relations, new customer generation, dealer and distributor programs, new product introductions, employee service awards, not-for-profit programs, internal incentive programs, safety education, customer referrals, and marketing research.
Promotional items are also used in politics to promote candidates and causes. Promotional items as a tool for non-commercial organizations, such as schools and charities are often used as a part of fund raising and awareness-raising campaigns. A prominent example was the livestrong wristband, used to promote cancer awareness and raise funds to support cancer survivor ship programs and research.
Collecting certain types of promotional items is also a popular hobby.
In 2009 the promotional merchandise industry was an established specialist sector of the promotions industry. Other sectors include incentive and motivation programmes, long services awards, on pack promotions, below the line promotions, and premiums.
The giving of corporate gifts vary across international borders and cultures, with the type of product given often varying from country to country.
Promotional merchandise is rarely bought directly by corporate companies from the actual manufacturers of the promotional products. A manufacturers expertise lies in the physical production of the products, but getting a product in front of potential customers is a completely different skill set and a complex process. Within the UK & Ireland for example promotional merchandise industry a comprehensive network of promotional merchandise distributor companies exist. This is the same for South Africa, with promotional companies being the distributors of these goods. A promotional merchandise distributor is defined as a company who “has a dedicated focus to the sale of promotional merchandise to end users”. (An ‘end user’ is a corporate company or organisation that purchases promotional merchandise for their own use.) These distributor companies have the expertise to not only take the product to market, but are also to provide the expert support required. The unique aspect of promotional merchandise is that on most occasions the product is printed with the logo, or brand, of a corporate organisation. In addition to this the promotional merchandise distributors also provide full support in processing orders, artwork, proofing, progress chasing & delivery of promotional products from multiple manufacturing sources.