TREVOSE, Pennsylvania: As marketing dollars need to work ever harder to produce an acceptable RoI, marketers are faced with a bewildering array of old and new media, technologies and techniques. Among which, good old-fashioned promotional freebies outscore conventional TV, print or radio ads, according to new research from the Advertising Specialty Institute

The promotional products industry generated  $19.6 billion (€15.3bn; £12.53bn) in 2007. That's a heck of a lot of coffee mugs, pens, pencils, retractable solar-powered flashlights and other products bearing a company  name and logo.

The study, conducted both online and in face-to-face interviews in major conurbations such as New York and Los Angeles, found that promotional products generate a cost-per-impression average of $0.004, compared to $.033 for national magazine ads or $0.019 for prime time TV ads.

The survey sample – primarily business people aged 21-plus – was asked to recall promotional gifts received over the preceding twelve months.

Among the key findings ...

  • 84% of consumers remembered an advertiser based on a product they received.
  • 42% had a more favorable impression of an advertiser after receiving a promotional product.
  • Nearly one quarter (24%) indicated they are more likely to do business with an advertiser based on items they receive.
  • The majority of respondents (62%) have done business with an advertiser after receiving a product.
  • Writing instruments are the most commonly owned gifts, with 54% of respondents owning them, followed by shirts, caps and bags.
  • Most (81%) promotional products were kept because they were considered useful.
  • More than three-quarters of respondents have kept their items for about seven months.
  • Among wearables, bags were reported to be used most frequently, with respondents indicating that they use their bags on average nine times per month.
  • Bags deliver the most impressions, with 1,038 impressions per month on average.
ASI president/ceo Timothy Andrews unsurprisingly concludes: "Advertising specialties provide measurable results for a very reasonable investment."

Data sourced from AdWeek (USA); additional content by WARC staff