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UK – The British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) has revealed the results of a new study: Senior marketers from across the UK have been questioned about their purchase and use of promotional merchandise – with very promising results for the industry.

Here is some New Research on the Use of Promotional Products. The study follows the 2011 research findings, which showed that promotional merchandise can deliver a higher or equal ROI than most forms of advertising. Interviews were carried out in April and May 2012 by an independent research company with marketers from a range of sectors including finance, IT, retail, professional services, insurance, charity and education, with 92% of respondents being between 25 and 44 years of age.

One of the most significant findings of the survey is that spend on promotional merchandise in 2012 is increasing or remaining stable in comparison to 2011, with 49% of respondents stating that their spend on promotional products has increased since the last financial year while an additional 30% have maintained their budget.

The survey also showed that promotional merchandise is a frequent and regular purchase, with 33% stating that they made a purchase every month, 33% buying every three months and 13% purchasing it twice a year. When asked about the main reasons why merchandise is used in sales and marketing campaigns as opposed to other incentives, 69% stated that it is because it “targets customers effectively”, 52% because the “brand message lasts longer” and 46% said it’s because of its “ability to create loyalty”. Further comments from respondents were “It’s an excellent way of getting the clients’ attention.

We can demonstrate the brand attributes we want to get across,” and “It builds relationships and goodwill”. The survey also asked about the purpose for which promotional merchandise is bought. Nearly three-quarters stated that it is for use at conferences and events, and 63% for “brand awareness and rebranding”. Merchandise is also used to “cause awareness” and because “promotional merchandise is often highly effective for getting attention and driving sales”.

Practical, reliable, useful According to the study, marketers are much more likely to choose practical products that have proven to work well in the past: asked about the top three items which they purchased, over a third said a pen, 13% pads, notebooks and Post-Its and 10% listed canvas shopping bags or eco bags.


Half of buyers preferred to use tried and tested products and 33% use a combination of new products and tried and tested with the reasons for the dominance of tried and tested including proven effectiveness (16%) and reliability (13%).

Pricing also plays an important role: four-fifths (79%) named price as an important factor in the decision-making process, with other factors mentioned including usefulness of product to the target audience (59%), relevance to brand (23%), attractiveness to target audience (23%) and ability to meet deadlines (16%). Looking ahead to Christmas, just under half of the respondents said they sent promotional items at Christmas with most products being food-or-drink related such as chocolate, hampers, port and Stilton.

When asked specifically about promotional clothing, approximately half of buyers (53%) said that they used it, with T-shirts and polo shirts often being bought for staff to wear at events. Some of the more unusual products purchased throughout the year were rubber ducks, spinning tops and inflatable ice cubes. When discussing the sourcing of items of merchandise, nearly 70% said that their top source of information was their current supplier and over half use catalogues, with others turning to the internet (33%), their creative department or agency (26%), co-workers (23%) and exhibitions (20%) for inspiration.

BPMA board director Stephen Barker concludes: “The results of the survey demonstrate first-hand the value that senior marketers place on promotional merchandise and how it plays a key role in marketing activity.

The frequency with which products are purchased shows this very clearly. In addition, the fact that useful products are purchased shows this very clearly. The fact that useful products top the list of those items most purchased also highlights that there is widespread recognition among marketers of the ways in which merchandise can bring longevity to promotional campaigns and is therefore an effective brand awareness tool.”