September 29th, 2018 BY Douglas Lober

Most Popular Types of Promotional Products for Amazing Results

Before you commit yourself to a promotional products campaign, it only makes sense to do some quick research on which items produce the best results.

There are many ways to calculate this. Your own data and analysis are needed to calculate the ROI your individualized campaigns get, of course, and over time you will amass enough data to do so. If you’re just starting out, however, or have thus far not had particularly impressive results from your campaigns, it helps to see a general picture of the market.

Again, there are many ways to picture this.

The promo product that returns the most impressions? Definitely bags, at nearly 6,000 in a lifetime and 1,000 per dollar spent. The products that stick around longest? Again, bags, as well as clothing and caps. The products that drive the most business to your front door? Highly industry-dependent, so you won’t know that until later.

Despite the impressive number of ways to calculate which promo products work best, one of the most useful metrics is simply see which are most popular.

The Most Popular Products in the United States

The easiest way to determine this is to check out which products are most prevalent in American households, offices and businesses. The Advertising Specialty Institute provides those exact answers in its 2016 Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study. (1)

The most popular items by percentage of Americans who own them, as well as ideas for using them in your own marketing campaigns, are as follows:

  1. 58 percent: Tee shirts. Shirts top the list for good reason. They’re extremely useful, and while they’re most often used for workout or house-painting purposes, that doesn’t mean you’re not getting impressions. Moreover, if you opt for shirts made of soft cotton, in flattering cuts, that don’t shrink in the wash, then you’re much likelier to convince owners to wear them out in the world.
  2. 53 percent: Drinkwear. We all have cups and glasses, period. Collectors and non-collectors alike appreciate a nice beer or wine glass to add to their collections, making this promo item a perfect option for beverage companies.
  3. 50 percent: Outerwear. Outerwear is applicable to a surprising range of companies, from adventure companies to tour guides to sportswear.
  4. 50 percent: Bags. Everyone can use bags. Period. Full stop. End of story. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in; as long as you have a business, you can give out branded bags to your customers and expect them to keep them around a while.
  5. 50 percent: Writing instruments. Everyone needs to write, but these are especially effective for clients and customers you know spend a lot of time at their desks, like professionals who work in an office.
  6. 45 percent: USB drives. Storing your important documents is a need everyone has, which is one of the strongest rationales for USB drives as a promotional item. Even if you’re not in a tech field yourself, this is still a great item for the professions: medicine, law, accounting, and so forth.
  7. 41 percent: Caps and headwear. Headwear of any kind goes best with adventure and other outdoor companies, but they also work really well for any company with a strong visual brand and a standout logo. That can mean anything from office supplies to catering to pet companies to beverages and beyond. Keep in mind that a “promotional item” can also clothe your own employees, giving your brand even more exposure out in the world.
  8. 33 percent: Polo shirts. Everyone loves a good polo shirt, but they’re especially good for athletic companies, such as those that manage golf courses or run sporting events.

Other popular items include desk accessories, health and safety kits, calendars, performance wear, power banks and umbrellas. While these have a reduced saturation, ranging from 20 to 40 percent or so, they can still prove valuable components of your marketing plan.

Knowing these numbers should make it significantly clearer which promo items are likely to stay with your clients, customers and prospects the longest. Over time, you will refine your options based on your own data and choose ever more selective promo products, but for now, it’s always a good idea to shoot high. (2) The greater percentage of people own an item, the more likely your prospects are to keep your version of that item.

Of course, that’s not the only factor to take into account.

How Do You Put These Facts to Use for You?

So now you know which items are your best bet, but how do you put these items to work in your own campaigns? After all, not every item will fit with your own products and services.

Don’t discount those that seem like they don’t mesh or are in conflict, however. For instance, if you’re an apparel company, you can still make use of promotional tee shirts. As long as they’re well-made and will withstand lots of washings, promo tee shirts you buy in bulk may well prove more affordable than those you can get from your other suppliers.

That said, it’s best to match up the items to the lifestyles of your clients. If you sell beer and wine, then glassware is a natural pairing (no pun intended). If insurance is your bag, then a desk calendar that helps customers track their renewal periods is a good idea for keeping business afloat. Other ideas include:

  • Water bottles for sportswear companies
  • Planters for gardening companies
  • Pens and pencils for offices
  • Monogrammed wine bottles with matching labels for law firms
  • Reusable bags for grocers or other food purveyors

… and more. If you’re ready to make a splash in your own marketing efforts, it’s time to get in touch with a promotional products company that knows what they’re doing, and cares about the Earth besides. That’s us, so don’t wait any longer to call today!

(1) Advertising Specialty Institute: Global Advertising Specialties Impressions Study. (2016.) Retrieved from

(2) Reusable Promos: How to Choose the Right Promotional Products for Your Business. (2018.)