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Think Promo: A Snapshot On Consumer Sentiment

Does advertising really influence consumers to buy? Research proves it does, and the reason is so subtle that consumers may not even realize it's happening.

When someone carries a logoed tote bag, watches a TV commercial or studies a print ad, that action creates a pattern of association resulting in an emotional tie with the brand that influences consumer behavior. And in the case of promotional products, research has proven that the products themselves continue to create positive memories affiliated with the brand for as long as the recipient keeps it.

Two years ago, PPAI Research conducted an extensive consumer study to examine five key performance metrics—reach, recall, resonance, reaction and relativity—as they related to the effectiveness of promotional products as an advertising medium. This year, PPAI Research conducted a follow-up consumer study to drill deeper into the consumer psyche to better understand the connection with promotional products in three areas:

The online survey captured insights from a nationally representative sample of more than 2,500 U.S. and 500 Canadian consumers between the ages of 18 and 73 who had received one or more promotional product(s) in the past 12 months. The data collected from the study sheds a brighter light on consumers' preferences for promotional products compared with other advertising media, the reasons promotional products marketing may fail and communication preferences based on generation.

Key Findings

  • 80 percent like receiving promotional products
  • 71 percent wish they received promotional products more often compared with 48 percent in 2009—a 23-percent increase in 10 years (2009 Consumer Study)
  • 73 percent prefer promotional products over any other form of advertising (See Figure 1)

  • 72 percent equate the quality of a promotional product they receive with the reputation of the company that gave it to them
  • 79 percent pass along promotional products after they are no longer using them
  • Sustainability is key when choosing products consumers will keep (See Figure 2)

  • 75 percent say promotional products are a good way to learn about new businesses in the area
  • 74 percent say promotional products they receive at events make experiences more memorable
  • 73 percent say promotional products are a good way to learn about upcoming sales and events
  • 96 percent of consumers want to know ahead of time when companies offer promotional products (See Figure 3)

PPAI's 2017 study reported that the top three reasons people keep promotional products are because they are fun, functional and trendy. Perhaps for these reasons the pass-along rate for promotional products is high—and that's another advantage of choosing promotional products over other types of advertising media. When survey respondents were asked what they would do with a promotional product that was no longer valuable, 79 percent said they donated the product to charity, gave or sold it to someone else, or never disposed of it. Twelve percent said they would dispose of a promotional product that wasn't good for the environment; this was less of a concern for Baby Boomers (eight percent) than for Gen Z (nearly 20 percent).

Not only do consumers want promotional products, but they experience FOMO (fear of missing out). The majority (61 percent) of respondents say they would prefer receiving an email when promotional products are being offered. While consumers of all ages agree on email, other forms of communication show stark differences between the preferences of older and younger generations. For example, TV ranked eighth among Gen Z consumers compared to a top three choice for 36 percent of Baby Boomers. Mobile push notifications may be the last thing on a Baby Boomer's mind (nine percent), yet the tool ranks particularly high among Millennials (26 percent) and Gen Z (35 percent).

The complete results from the 2019 Consumer Study are available free to PPAI members and for purchase by companies not eligible for membership. Log in to access the full report at www.ppai.org/members/research or email [email protected] to join. For questions about this study, email PPAI research manager Mo Das at [email protected].

Tina Berres Filipski is editor of PPB; Mo Das is PPAI's research manager.