Key findings:

· Promotional merchandise can deliver a higher or equal ROI than most forms of advertising

· 66% of respondents said they could remember the brand on the promotional product they received during the last year

· 79% said they were likely to do business with the company in the future· 8 out of 10 (84 per cent) respondents said that a branded promotional gift increases brand awareness

· Over three quarters (87 per cent) of recipients said they kept a promotional gift for longer than 12 months

· Over half (56 per cent) of respondents said their opinion of the brand/company was more favourable after receiving the promotional product

The first ever in-depth independent national survey into the power of promotional merchandise in the UK questioned businessmen and women about their behavioural trends and preferences for different promotional gifts.

One of the most significant findings of the survey is that promotional merchandise can deliver a higher ROI than radio and outdoor advertising and a ROI that is equal to TV and print advertising.  The cost per impression for a mug is £0.001, a mid-range pen £0.001, a calendar £0.004, a USB stick £0.005 and an umbrella £0.003. With an average cost per impression of £0.003, these figures compare extremely favourably with the cost per impression of other media with TV coming in at £0.008, radio at £0.003 and advertising hoardings at £0.003.

Stephen Barker, BPMA board director, said: “These figures show that promotional merchandise is a highly cost-effective form of promotion which gives a ROI that is higher or equal to all other forms of media. While radio and advertising hoardings have a relatively comparable cost per impression, they have a higher cost of entry than promotional items, requiring far larger sums to be spent to achieve this cost per impression.  With an average cost per impression of £0.003 promotional items achieve a comparable ROI to media requiring a much larger outlay and it enables companies with a modest marketing budget to punch above their weight in terms of the level of exposure achieved.

The survey also examined how much the respondents opinion changed after receiving a promotional item, giving a measure of how such products can affect feelings, perceptions and buying activity.   Over half (56 per cent) of respondents said they felt more favourable towards the brand/company.  When asked how much more or less likely they were to do business with the company in the future after receiving the promotional item over three-quarters (79 per cent) said they were more likely.

Stephen Barker commented: “This is further evidence of the link between promotional merchandise, branding and sales.  Promotional merchandise influences purchases and repeat exposure to a brand has a positive effect on how business people react to that brand.”

While over four-fifths (84 per cent) of respondents stated that a branded promotional gift increases awareness of the brand, 63 per cent of respondents said they preferred to receive a promotional gift with logo branding on and 37 per cent indicated that they prefer to receive an unbranded gift.

Nearly half (45 per cent) of people surveyed would most like to receive a USB stick, while 39 per cent would like a pen, 39 per cent an electrical item and 36 per cent a mug.

The reasons for these choices are clear, as when asked what types of promotional gift they found most useful 21% stated a USB stick, 11% an electrical item and 10% a writing instrument.

Stephen Barker continues: “Usefulness is one of the core reasons for people retaining promotional merchandise and is a key factor in it being used time and time again, providing an ongoing reminder of the brand that gave it.”

18 per cent of respondents stated that they had kept a mug for the longest period of time, 15 per cent a USB stick and 12 per cent a pen, with around one-third (33 per cent) indicating they had kept an item for between one and two years and 30 per cent between three and four years, highlighting that around 87 per cent of recipients had kept a promotional item for longer than 12 months.

The impact of promotional merchandise on the recipient is shown by the items that respondents remember receiving in the last 12 months, with 44 per cent recalling receiving a pen, 34 per cent a mug and 31 per cent a calendar, with USB sticks and stationery coming in at 22 per cent and 18 per cent respectively.

Stephen Barker concludes: “The results of the survey unequivocally demonstrate the value that should be placed on promotional products as a key part of the marketing mix.  Not only do promotional products make positive impressions on all those who see them, but the message is reinforced every time the product is used and contributes to the user’s needs and wellbeing.  No other form of media can give the advertiser such a close tie between the benefits to the user and the brand and message. The findings also provide information that can help marketers tailor their promotional products even more specifically in order to make their promotional spend still more effective.