A question we often get asked here at Steel City is ‘What is the most popular promotional product?’ or ‘What are your best sellers?’ Of course popular merchandise can be driven by market trends and quirky items that go viral like the branded popping fidget toy for example.

Changes in working environments can also have an effect on which merchandise is a hit.  The Pandemic has created a huge demand for PPE items like face coverings, hand sanitiser and anti-bacterial products. Working from home and the rise of virtual events has had a massive impact on the type of promotional products sold, with many opting for letterbox friendly business gifts and pick-me-up morale boosting care packages.

But there are a several key items when it comes to commonly selected, popular merchandise. They have lasted the test of time and are proven to create an impressive return on investment:

  • Pens – of course! Printed or engraved with your logo and CTA’s.
  • Bags – extremely useful when it comes to shopping and travel.
  • Drinkware – from the classic ceramic mug to travel mugs, flasks and sports bottles.

Below we outline these three classic go-to branded products for you as well as a short video by our MD James Biggin.

Our Most Popular Merchandise

1. Promotional Pens

Of course, the promotional pen. Where would we be without it? The pen is by far the most popular branded product. Not only an affordable option, with costs as low as 16p per pen, promotional pens are almost guaranteed to be used on a daily basis. And in a number of places – be it at home, work, on the go.

In fact, pens printed with your logo are kept an average of nine months, and during this time your brand could be seen around three thousand times! It is also said that a pen has four owners on average in its lifetime; so there is scope to suggest that the pen offers even more brand exposure than you may originally think.

From a marketing perspective, given a branded pen’s low cost, you can afford to take a more scattergun approach with mass volume give-aways. They are ideal to give out at events, exhibitions and trade shows. Branded pens also make a useful companion to a notepad, diary, or pencil case printed or embossed with your company logo and branding message. See our pen gift sets category for some ideas.

Types of Promotional Pens

There are so many options when it comes to promotional pens! Ranging from plastic ball pens, stylus pens, and metal pens to antibacterial pens, banner pens and pens made from wheat straw, bamboo and even stone! Whether you want your brand singing out in bright full colour or subtly engraved, there will be an option for you.

Promotional pens don’t have to just be a cheap and cheerful corporate giveaway. If you are looking for a more executive, classy pen to mirror your brands prestige, look no further than an engraved pen from the likes of Parker, Sheaffer and Waterman. Many of which are presented in a high quality gift box or really impress with a pen set.

We could talk all day about promotional pens! But we do want to share our other popular merchandise so to read further, check out our blog about promotional pens or see our promotional pens product page.

Promotional pens

2. Promotional Bags

Promotional Shopping Bags

Another extremely popular promotional product – the branded bag. Available in all shapes, sizes, materials and with a large branding area; promotional bags are a go-to item when it comes to promoting your company. The UK legislation introduced in 2015 to charge for single-use plastic bags has seen a massive increase of interest in our ‘bags-for-life‘ and eco-friendly promotional bags. And from May 2021 all businesses of all sizes are legally required to charge a minimum of 10p per single-use carrier bag¹. With such an incentive to use our own reusable shopping bags, investing in a branded bag with your logo on is a sure way to expose your brand and marketing message time and time again. You can browse all eco-friendly promotional products here.

Promotional shopping bags are also a fantastic giveaway at exhibitions, events and tradeshows. Not only are they useful to hold other promotional gifts, leaflets and pamphlets needed for the event, they also act as a walking billboard – promoting your brand to all the delegates. Our drawstring bags are another great low cost alternative branded bag to give out at events and shows. Being lightweight and easy to carry, they will appeal to many and be used well beyond the event itself.

rPET Polyester Shopper

Promotional Travel Bags

Your brand can also be printed or embroidered onto backpacks,  travel bags, and sports bags. Whether you are running a fitness or wellbeing campaign to promote health, or are in the leisure and hospitality/education industries, a high quality promotional bag will grab attention and leave lasting impressions of your brand.

Promotional Business Bags

For those of you who work in a corporate environment, our laptop/tablet bags and business bags could be the perfect fit. Ideal for holding all the information, pens, lanyards and other items needed at a conference, perfect as an incentive or even a welcome gift for new employees.

To find out more about promotional bags, browse our online collection or get in touch with our team, we would be happy to explore the options that would best suit your brand.

3. Promotional Drinkware

Branded Mugs & Cups

Forever a beloved promotional item – the branded ceramic mug! With the UK drinking 165 million cups of tea a day and 70 million cups of coffee², it is not surprising that the traditional mug is high up on the list of promotional must-haves. Perfect for those who work in offices or indoors, a mug branded with your company logo and call to action will get seen multiple times every day. Often a talking point in the workplace, a mug with a creative design or interesting quote will mean your brand is literally on your target markets lips. Just when your client is in need of your product or services, your branded mug with your contact details on will be within reach. And don’t forget, a matching branded coaster will complement your promotional mug nicely!

Also on offer now is the revolutionary MugSafe® packaging system which prevents breakages when delivered to your chosen destination.

Durham Promotional Mug

Branded Travel Mugs & Flasks

Promotional drinkware has come into its own of recent years. With advancements in material technology allowing cool drinks to stay cool and hot drinks warmer for longer, a branded travel mug or flask is a popular merchandise choice. Like the charge on single-use plastic bags, we are being encouraged to use reusable mugs to try and cut the amount of disposable coffee cups going into landfill. Many high street coffee chains and cafes provide a monetary discount to those who bring their own cup. With the trend towards sustainable options, travel mugs and drinkware that is made from recycled materials, can be reused and recycled both back up any eco marketing messages you wish to promote and provide brand exposure for years afterwards.

See what one our clients did with their promotional travel mugs and why they selected them.

Americano Recyclable Travel Mug

Branded Sports Bottles

As well as demonstrating your eco-credentials, reusable drinkware is an excellent marketing tool to promote a health and wellbeing message. With water making up two thirds of our body, keeping hydrated is vital to staying healthy.³ Promotional sports bottles will convey this message to both your clients and team alike.

From grip jogger bottles, aluminium sports bottle with twist on lids and carabiners, to stainless steel double walled thermal bottles; there is a lot of choice. Depending on your budget we have a massive range of bottles that can be branded with a subtle engraved logo, a one spot colour print right up to a full colour wraparound print.  Aligning your brand to a product that will make the user feel good whilst using it, will more than likely create positive associations with your brand!

Thermal Promotional Bottle

Other Popular Options

Along with promotional pens, branded bags and drinkware, there are other classic choices including promotional notebooks, calendars, keyrings, stress items, lanyards and umbrellas.

Should I Choose Popular Merchandise?

Knowing that these types of promotional merchandise are popular might not always mean they are the right choice for your brand. What might work for one company, might not always be appropriate for another, and the same goes for one marketing campaign to another.

The key to selecting the right merchandise for your brand is to ensure that your target market, budget and end goal or message is fully understood. That is where promotional product experts like ourselves come in. We will spend time challenging the thought process, placing popular choices as well as ones that don’t immediately spring to mind. This “mix” of ideas allows you to compare products, whittle down your selection and be confident your choice is the right one for your brand.

Interested in a free consultation? Contact the team here.