Swag. Swag. Swag. On You. – Justin Bieber

Think back to your first trade show. How many free shirts were you able to pick up?

Different types of swag (promotional products)Promotional products, or “swag”, are now a staple for marketing teams to further promote their brand. Dating back to campaign buttons in the first presidential election in the United States, swag has grown to be one of the most reliable and clever ways to promote your brand for the past two centuries.

Trade shows are an excellent opportunity to give out swag and spread brand awareness. There are many different promo products that companies use—ranging from plain, branded tee-shirts with a flashy design; to literal flashlight flash drives; to outrageous novelty toys that may even be banned in a few countries.

Much research and debate has gone into discovering the best ways to utilize products for marketing. Here are five interesting facts for you to keep in mind next time you invest in 1,500 nylon tote bags with your company’s logo on them.

1. People respond more positively to companies that give them promotional product worth over $5.

That’s according to PPAI, who conducted a study based on the cost of individual pieces of swag. Before you go and spend too much or too little on your branded swag, be aware of sentiments associated with perceived spend.

According to PPAI’s research, only 28% of recipients felt more positive after receiving a promotional product under $5. About 40% of recipients felt more positive after receiving promotional product worth between $5 and $25. However, there is a noticeable increase (54%) in positive attitudes towards companies who give out swag worth more than $25.

2. 52% of trade show attendees are more inclined to enter an exhibit that provides some sort of giveaway, according to Princeton Marketing.

Companies spend vast amounts on their booth at trade shows, but often they need something more enticing than a flashy booth to draw in attendees.

The appeal of “free things” might do the trick. However, an even better way to convince people to stop by is having a unique item that captures people’s imaginations and gets them talking.

3. The average amount of time a promotional item is kept is around 6 months.

Number of months swag is kept for

Source:  Advertising Speciality Institute (ASI) Central

Think of all of the swag you’ve received in the past. Think of how much you actually still own. Does knowing that someone will only keep your product for six months change the way you think about it? At least experiential or consumable swag won’t end up in the trash.

Then again, 63% of recipients are likely to give an unwanted product to someone else in lieu of throwing it out, according to ASI. This eco-friendly alternative is more common way of disposing unwanted swag. As the saying goes, “ones man’s trash is another man’s treasure.”

4.  The most used pieces of swag are writing instruments, shirts, and bags, according to the ASI.

You are 100% guaranteed to see at least one of these three things being given away at any trade show you attend. Writing instruments, shirts, and bags are cheap and reliable products that companies turn to time and time again.

There are of course many other alternatives to these three common items but the retention rate and ROI rate for businesses may not be as high. If you’re looking to branch out from the crowd, try to choose something that is unique but still useful—drinkware for example.

5. 60% of consumers report using certain promotional products they received several times, according to PPAI’s study.

The key to an effective piece of promotional swag for marketers is investing in something that will be of much use by the recipient. This also will assure that the consumer remembers your brand as they will often be using the product. Useful items like outerwear, bags, or USB drives have a fairly good reuse rates compared to products like stickers, writing utensils, or cheap novelties.

Making your Swag Memorable

Promotional products have become an ubiquitous method to spread brand recognition, and a ubiquitous method for showing gratitude to loyal fans and customers.

My advice is to provide a memorable experience for the recipient. A great experience will create positive memories and put your brand in a good light. Your swag also likely won’t end up in the trash.

What’s the most unique piece of swag you’ve seen?

Emma Zwirko is a Social Media Manager for WP Engine. She hails from the East Coast of the US and enjoys video games, frozen pizza, and cat GIFs.