What are Promotional Products?

According to businessdictionary.com

The definition of promotional products are items such as a bag, calendar, cap, clock, diary, pen, etc., given away to current or prospective customers. These items usually carry the name and address of the firm, as well as information on the products and services, and serve as reminders. Also called advertising novelty or advertising specialty.

I would like to correct the above definition. It states that these items usually carry the name AND address of the firm along with information on the company’s products and services. From my experience and having worked in the industry for 10+ years it is usually just the name of the business decorated on the promotional product and not along with the company address nor products and services. Unless of course they happen to be referring to promotional products that have a large imprint area.

Getting back to defining what are promotional products, here is Wikipedia’s definition

Promotional merchandise, sometimes nicknamed swag, schwag, or tchotchke (« Say what?! How do you even pronounce that?), are products branded with a logo or slogan, used in marketing and communication programs. They are given away to promote a company, corporate image, brand, or event at trade shows, conferences, and as part of guerrilla marketing campaigns.

89% of consumers can recall the name of the advertiser on a promotional product they received in the past 24 months.

History of Promotional Products

Did you know that the first known promotional product in the United States were commemorative buttons? They dated back to the election of George Washington in 1789.

Another idea of where the promotional products industry originated was from two well-known competitors in the industry. Their names are Jasper Meek and Henry Beach, both printers or decorators in the promotional products industry. Jasper Meek was known to have a local shoe store company provide book bags imprinted with their company name on it and supplying them to the local schools. Supposedly, Henry Beach picked up the idea from Meeks and both businesses started taking off selling promotional products to the locals.

History of Promotional Products

Sourcing Promotional Products

Most companies and corporations purchase their merchandise through promotional product distributor companies. Some may call them promotional product consultants but most commonly known as promotional product distributors.

Companies, or end-users, purchase products from these distributors. The end-user usually supplies the artwork in a vector format for the distributor to decorate, laser engrave or silk-screen on a promotional product.

The distributors buy these promotional products from suppliers usually a member of Advertising Specialties Industry (ASI) or Promotional Products Association International (PPAI). Members pay a monthly or yearly fee to join.

Suppliers in the advertising specialty industry purchase these products from manufacturers if they aren’t a manufacturer themselves. But, usually these promotional products are purchased blank from overseas like Taiwan and/or Hong Kong in bulk.

The suppliers send out these products to laser engravers or silk-screeners, often referred to as decorators. These decorators usually charge running fees for decoration, individual packaging fees, and logo setup fees.

But, if you’re outsourcing large quantities your best bet is to go direct with companies like Alibaba or purchase wholesale with Aliexpress.

Charges or Fees Associated with Promotional Products

There are a good many fees associated with promotional products and it could change or differ depending on the item you are purchasing along with the decorating method of choice. Most commonly, there will be a setup fee on every new order you submit for decoration. A setup fee usually averages $50.00 and that’s per color if you plan on silk-screening the merchandise.

It is highly recommended though that you get a pre-production sample made before production. Especially, if you’ve never physically seen the product itself. The pre-production sample will give you a good idea as what to expect as far as decorating on the item. Pre-production samples will however cost you another $50.00 on top of your setup charge you’ll occur. But, depending on what your purchasing and the volume you plan on buying it may just be worth it. As most suppliers, will not allow end-users to return decorated product for credit, they will however allow you to return blank merchandise more than likely within a certain time frame of shipping your product.

Elyssa McGregor

Hi! I'm Elyssa McGregor. I love helping people succeed online and promoting businesses with our wide range of promotional products. I have a love for search engine optimization (SEO) and getting companies out there on the world wide web. How can I help you?

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