Prove the ROI of Promo Products

The newest version of ASI’s Ad Specialties Impressions Study gives distributors statistical evidence of the power of promotional products.

“People just throw promotional products away after they get them.”

“Nobody remembers the company that actually gives out promo items.”

“We get more return from our television and online ads.”

Wrong, wrong and, yes, wrong again. In fact, promotional products are kept and valued, recipients can clearly recall the advertiser imprinted on them, and they have a greater return-on-investment than almost every other advertising medium. And yet, distributors hear the above objections from clients and prospects just about every day.

Now, though, ASI’s Ad Specialties Impressions Study provides statistical evidence that distributors can use to answer most questions from clients or refute just about any objection that a skeptical prospect can throw out.

On the following pages, we delve into this information to present distributors with compelling evidence about the power of promotional products. From cost-per-impression data and advertiser recall numbers to length of times that various promotional items are kept by recipients, the following infographics give distributors and their salespeople powerful data to use with buyers.

To view the complete Ad Specialties Impressions Study, go to

Staying Power

In an effort to prove that promotional products aren’t just thrown away after a targeted group of people receive an item, respondents were asked how long they keep a typical type of promotional item. Across all promotional products, the average was just over seven months.

Some products such as calendars can stay around for about a year, while others, especially health and safety products and writing instruments, last for about six months. Calendars, which have the longest staying power, are the one item used most often for reference purposes, such as referring to a name or phone number.

Impression Maker

Ultimately, the goal of all marketers and advertisers is to gain impressions for their brands. Well, this study proves that promotional products do that extremely effectively.

The number of impressions a product makes was derived from multiplying how long a recipient has the product to how many people they come in contact with each month while using it. In the U.S., bags generate the most impressions (5,772) of any item measured in the study. This is because bags are used often in public places where they can be seen by many people.

Other items that deliver a large number of impressions are writing instruments, hats, outerwear and shirts. Items that create the fewest impressions tend to be those intended mostly for one person, such as health and safety items and USB drives. The value of these items is more in the connection they make with the user than the total number of impressions generated.

Ultimately, distributors should work with clients to determine the goals of their campaigns and the connection they want to establish with the intended recipient before selecting the right vehicle to deliver their message. Taking into account the number and quality of the impressions generated gives the distributor the opportunity to serve as a consultant rather than an order taker.

Recipient Views of Advertisers

In possibly the most powerful data point in the whole Ad Specialties Impressions Study, 85% of recipients of promotional products could identify the advertisers on the promotional items they owned. That is significant recall and much higher than marketers using traditional media outlets tend to receive.

The information is also important, considering that promotional products have such a long shelf life with the consumers who own them. Additionally, recipients not only remember the name of the advertiser, they also overwhelmingly feel more positive about the advertiser. This number is highest for recipients of outerwear, where nearly two-thirds have a more favorable rating of the advertiser.

And while promotional products get an advertiser remembered and drive positive opinions, they also can impact future purchase intent. Across all promotional products, more than one-third of recipients state they are more likely to do business with an advertiser after receiving the item than they were beforehand.

Low CPI, High Value

Ultimately, the return on investment that clients receive from using promotional products in their marketing campaigns can be found in the fact that the items have an extremely low cost-per-impression (CPI).

Advertising specialties remain less expensive per impression than most other forms of advertising. The investment in ad specialties is modest, more targeted and allows for much greater levels of interaction with consumers than other forms of advertising. In fact, promotional products have a lower CPI in the United States than prime-time television advertising, national magazine advertising and newspaper ads, and a similar CPI to radio and Internet advertising.

Plus, while all of these other forms of advertising are often passive, advertising specialties allow for much more active interaction, such as storing valuable information on a USB drive or carrying groceries or other items around in a promotional bag.

Promo Products Are Passed Along

While many people hold onto and use or refer to promotional items for a while after receiving them, some people choose to pass along products or give them to friends and colleagues. For distributors, this enhances the value of an item, as products gain advertiser impressions not just with their intended recipient audience, but also with a pass-along group that also can remember an advertiser’s message or name.

In the U.S. and Canada, nearly two-thirds of ad specialties that are not wanted are given away. In fact, in most countries, more than half of consumers report that they will give away a product that they are finished with rather than throw it out or file it away.

Utility is Vital

Consumers want products that are, first and foremost, useful to them, especially when it comes to the more practical items such as writing instruments and USB drives. Here, usefulness outweighs attractiveness by at least five to one.

However, that’s not to say that attractiveness isn’t important, especially if the item needs to be worn. For outerwear, attractiveness is a very close second to usefulness in reasons for keeping the product, with more than half of those who own outerwear reporting they keep it because it is attractive.

If distributors want a customer to use the product for reference, then calendars are the way to go. Apparel items, whether they’re shirts, outerwear or hats, are cited as the most enjoyable to have.