Top Performing Promotional Products Backed Up With Stats

Promotional products make up a $22 billion industry. Why is the industry thriving? Because logoed items like hats, T-shirts and bags are traveling advertisements that leave a lasting impression, making them crucial for building brand awareness – ASI Central


Advertising specialties, or promotional products, are one of the most high-impact, cost-effective advertising mediums around. They are items that display an advertiser’s logo, to be distributed among both employees and customers. Distributors in the promotional products industry, like Think it Then ink it, are constantly on the lookout for statistically backed trends and information relative to the products we sell. This knowledge enables us to stay ahead of the game, provide the best and most innovative options to our customers, and continue our internal education.


The Advertising Specialties Institute 2016 Impressions Study confirms a product trend that has been holding strong and steadily growing: t-shirts. T-shirts are a powerhouse in the promotional products arena, grabbing a retention percentage of 58% in the category of products received and kept by consumers. Not far behind is drink ware (53%), writing utensils (50%), and bags/outerwear (50%). If you’re wondering what these product retention trends are based on, it’s a simple top three: usefulness, attractiveness, and enjoyability. Across the board, consumers keep the promotional items they are given based on their everyday usage, taking into play variables like practicality and quality; however, attractiveness was a very close second, followed shortly by enjoyability.


Top Promo Products 2016

In addition to retention percentages that shed light on products bringing our customers the most lasting benefit, are growth studies. Ad specialties revenues increased nationwide by 3.4% in 2015, with the education (13.6%), healthcare (11.8%), and manufacturing (7.8%) industries contributing to the highest percentages of revenues garnished by distributors. Technology products (USBs, speakers) are becoming increasingly popular in the west, while the east tends to focus on finance-oriented items (calculators, USB tie clips). The south has a high interest in products relative to their numerous energy industries (portable power devices, disaster kits). In the Midwest alone, promotional product sales increased by 1.6% in 2015, gaining the most from manufacturers for safety reward programs, recognition awards, and branded apparel. Bringing this closer to home, Wisconsin promotional product sales saw a growth of 1.3% in 2015. And while here in Wisconsin we seem to be fond of smaller, more traditional orders of apparel and writing utensils (writing utensils were said to have had the greatest impact on consumer opinion of the supplier), we had a larger occurrence of order frequency and repeat orders overall; loyalty means a lot to us! Using with statistics is an interesting and effective way to accumulate fun facts, which, if used correctly, yields good insight towards our ultimate goal: going past simply satisfying a customer, to ensuring their safe return, over and over again. Take these statistics, the $3 billion t-shirt category for instance, and look past what it is on the surface: is it useful? Will it last? What effect will it have on the customer? Mark Katz, CEO of Custom Ink, looks at t-shirts not only as a great piece of mobile advertisement, but as something that brings people together.


Distributor sales increased by 3.4% in 2015, which is currently the 6th consecutive annual increase. These sales are driven up by technology, research, and how businesses like Think it Then ink it apply all of the above. Larry Cohen of Axis Promotions summarizes the idea behind utilizing product statistics, trends, and tendencies to achieve a higher goal: “Everyone in our industry, both large and small, needs to be focused on providing a service that goes well beyond the product or price; we must provide value so clients view what we provide as a necessary asset as opposed to an optional expense.” By taking these top promotional products and using them to help our customer’s events, causes, and brands to grow, we aim to establish our credibility and relevance through data and application.


This blog contains references from ASI Central, Counselor Magazine, and Advantages Magazine. Check them out!

ASI Central

ASI Central Distributor Annual Report (2015)

Counselor Magazine

AdSpec Impressions Study (2016)

Advantages Magazine “Rocky Mountain High”



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