The Re-Invention and Future of Promotional Products


Recently the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) announced the industry’s highest sales volume in 18 years at a staggering $23.3 billion in Australia.

So we take a look at what segments of the market are driving such a vibrant industry that many people are not that familiar with anymore as digital marketing and traditional advertising are mainstream. So what happened to promotional products and how are they so successful again?

Promotional products are heavily used by large corporations, ad agencies, media companies and direct marketing agencies, but they are more often than not incorporated into the marketing mix defined under these categories, not talked about as Promotional Products anymore subsequently not having a distinct category of their own.

Steady growth can be attributed to the fact that millennials are changing the way in which things are being manufactured. Traditional items are a thing of the past, the youth of the today are used to innovations, new cool gadgets, and they expect them regularly, so this is helping to drive promotional products to new heights. We are now seeing cool and amusing gadgets everywhere and integrating them into our social lives.

Retailers and corporations see the value and want to add value to these experiences.  So building any brand is based on coverage.  With a Promotional product, you can provide coverage for a much longer extended period than a three minute digital advert on a screen and for far less marketing expense.

Competition is now rife to gain corporate loyalty to help increase sales. Product based incentives are the new trend that is proving to be effective in winning brand loyalty in double quick time seeing almost instantaneous results.

Marketing Costs on the Rise

As traditional marketing costs are undoubtedly rising marketing budgets are being stretched like never before and with almost too many options to choose from many companies are getting it wrong. So the new breed of marketing agents are finding innovative ways to get the best bang for their buck. A well thought out promotional product campaign provides long-term maximum coverage for little compared to other available marketing methods.

One of 2018’s most effective campaign categories has to be ‘Gift with purchase programs’.

Current trends are changing fast in promotional products so finding the companies that understand the technical side of a campaign is essential.  The critical factor is trying to bridge between retail perceptions while also diversifying services.

For so many years most people associated promotional products with ‘pens and caps’ so this is where people have lost sight of what promotional products are, how they have evolved and the part they are playing right under our noses as we speak.

However this image remains as some marketing campaigns don’t move on with the times, but that is not unique only to the promotional products industry.

Inexperience in this area can cost corporations dearly, especially thinking of promotional products as just an afterthought.  If you work closely with a corporation from the start to identify early the product perspective, you will attain the marketing mix, saving big marketing dollars.

If you work in unison with the corporation to get the product perspective correct, the industry will drive brand awareness at a fraction of the cost that an advertising agency can.

In essence promotional product, professional marketers provide more creativity for less financial investment. There are numerous comparisons available to show your budget is more far-reaching with promotional products.

Perception Changes within the Industry

In the last decade, we have seen a significant shift in perception.  Back to the ‘hat and pen’  scenario, now promotional products have moved toward a higher value item perception, not a cheap and nasty one, and this is what is behind the figures quoted at the beginning of this article.

The market traditionally was very price driven, but the marketers themselves have grown tired of giving out cheap merchandise that merely falls apart and doesn’t give long-lasting brand awareness, by becoming more professional and delivering higher-end goods it makes their job easier as it provides diversification and additional marketing coverage. At the same time, though it is not all down to quality, a significant factor is who has the freshest idea.

Employee incentive programs are also providing a boost the industry, throughout many industries there are plenty of examples that motivated employees increase productivity, it’s almost a no-brainer.

The industry itself now has the annual APPA Pyramid Awards for Promotional Excellence.

So the industry has evolved from the ‘hats and pens’ it once was into a vibrant, competitive, innovative sector that is still outperforming many other marketing platforms.

APPA is the benchmark. They set the standards by which the industry adhere to, if a company is a member then they are a go-to company for your products.

The industry, as all others do, have unregulated providers and they are the vast majority of the complaints that are received regarding delivery time and quality control issues.  Around 90% of complaints are from non-APPPA registered companies. There are only around 300 registered APPA promotion product companies but over 2000 companies out there in Australia currently offering promotional products.


In the near future, we will see promotional product companies using technology more and more especially in Australia with China looming; the cost is paramount.

Tech will help with selection, cost management, stock management and delivery. The time of continuously cross-quoting is going to fade away, yes cheaper product is always available, but if an item shrinks at the first time of washing, it leaves a negative impression on the brand, and that is what companies are working hard to move away from.


Companies that research quality over trying to save 0.10c per item on importing goods from elsewhere will be the survivalists in the industry as in the long term it will cost the company more. Marketing agents need to ask themselves a question of whether is best to leave it the way it has been in embroidery, printing and engraving for years or take on-board innovative, high-quality, long-lasting brand awareness products that stay with the customer for the long-term, those who choose the former will cost their companies dearly.

Author Bio:

Olivia Caitlin is a blogger associated with Promotional products Logo pro based in Sydney. She writes about fashion and creative gifts ideas related to business, lifestyle and more.




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