The UK's promotional marketing spend is on the increase. Image courtesy of Willemijn Simonis/sxc.hu
For the first time ever, senior marketers from across the UK have been questioned about their purchasing and usage of promotional merchandise
Interviews were carried out by an independent research company with marketers from a range of sectors including finance, IT, retail, professional services, insurance, charity and education, with 92 percent of respondents being between 25 and 44 years of age. This latest research follows 2011 research findings, which showed that promotional merchandise can deliver a higher or equal ROI
than most forms of advertising.
One of the most significant findings of the survey is that spend on promotional merchandise in 2012 is increasing or remaining stable in comparison to 2011 with 49 percent of respondents stating that their spend on promotional products has increased since the last financial year
. Meanwhile, an additional 30 percent have maintained their budget. This positive intent is set to continue next year with 33 percent planning to increase spend from this year to next, while a further 50 percent expect it to stay the same next year. The percentage spent on promotional items within the marketing budget is also increasing overall or remaining stable, with 43 percent of respondents stating that it has increased, and 36 percent that it has stayed the same.
The survey also showed that promotional merchandise is a frequent with 33 percent of respondents stating that they make a purchase every month. A further 33 percent said they make a purchase every three months, and 13 percent do so twice a year.
Stephen Barker, BPMA
Board Director, commented: “To hear directly from senior marketers themselves that spend on promotional products is rising shows unequivocally the importance that is placed on merchandise in the marketing mix.”
When asked about the main reasons why merchandise is used in sales and marketing campaigns
as opposed to other incentives, 69 percent stated that it is because it ‘targets customers effectively’, 52 percent because the ‘brand message lasts longer’ and 46 percent said because of its ‘ability to create loyalty’. Among the comments from respondents were: “It’s an excellent way of getting the clients attention. We can demonstrate the brand attributes
we want to get across.” Continuing: “For a cascade promotion, if we send items to X they pass them out to their customers who might also sign up. It builds relationships and goodwill.”
The survey also asked about the purpose for which promotional merchandise is bought. Nearly three-quarters (73 percent) stated that it is for use at conferences and events, and 63 percent for 'brand awareness and rebranding'. Merchandise is also used for ‘cause awareness’ and ‘product launches and roll-outs’ because it is often highly effective at gaining attention and helping to drive sales.
The ways in which promotional merchandise is used is also highlighted by the fact that 69 percent of respondents stated that items are usually used in product giveaways, while 13 percent use it as a call to action with nearly one-fifth (19 percent) always using a strapline on the product.
When asked about the top three items which they purchased, over a third (35 percent) said a pen, 13 percent pads, notebooks and Post-Its, with 10 percent listing canvas shopping bags or eco bags.
Stephen Barker commented: “What these results confirm is that practicality and relevance to the recipient are key factors in the decision-making process
on promotional merchandise. Giving a product that serves a purpose ensures that it will be retained by the recipient, providing ongoing exposure for the brand that gave it.”
Half of buyers preferred to use tried and tested products and 33 percent use a combination of new products, as well as tried and tested ones. The reasons for the dominance of tried and tested products included proven effectiveness (16 percent), and reliability (13 percent). The comments from respondents are reflective of the caution of marketers in the current challenging economic conditions
with remarks including: “We know they work. We don’t have the budget to experiment” as well as: “Items need to be reliable.”
When discussing the sourcing of items of merchandise, nearly 70 percent said that their top source of information was their current supplier, with others turning to the internet (33 percent), their creative department or agency (26 percent), co-workers (23 percent) and exhibitions (20 percent) for inspiration.
Asked about influences when deciding what type of item to buy, over four-fifths (79 percent) said price and 59 percent said usefulness of product to the target audience, with other factors mentioned including relevance to brand (23 percent), attractiveness to target audience (23 percent) and ability to meet deadlines (16 percent). One buyer stated that: “Campaign concept is central,” and another that: “We listen to what our supporters want.”
Barker commented: “It is no surprise that cost is a key factor in decision making as the economy remains less than buoyant but it is encouraging to note that factors such as relevance and usefulness remain important.”
Looking ahead to Christmas, just under half of the respondents said they sent promotional items at Christmas, with most products being food or drink related such as chocolates, hampers as well as port and Stilton. When asked specifically about promotional clothing, approximately half of buyers (53 percent) said that they used it, with t-shirts and polo shirts often being bought for staff to wear at events. Among some of the more unusual products purchased throughout the year were rubber ducks, spinning tops and inflatable ice cubes.
Barker concluded: “The results of the survey demonstrate first-hand the value that senior marketers place on promotional merchandise and how it plays a key role in marketing activity. The frequency with which products are purchased shows this very clearly. In addition, the fact that useful products top the list of those items most purchased highlights that there is widespread recognition among marketers of the ways in which merchandise can bring longevity to promotional campaigns and is therefore an effective brand awareness tool.”