The Power of Swag

In this cray-cray, ever-changing world of marketing, there’s one industry fact that remains constant: People just love free stuff.

Before you dismiss promo items as the less cool, second cousin of marketing – be honest now, some of you have gone there – just know this: The public’s appetite for promotional items – aka swag, in biz-speak – is as voracious as ever.

People simply can’t resist branded mugs, pens, drinkware, T-shirts, thumb drives, stress balls, totes, hats, and that occasional fleece (score!). In fact, the swag industry generates $22.9 billion in annual revenue in the US, reports the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI).

If you think that branded swag rarely makes it home from trade shows or pitch meetings, you’d be staggeringly, swaggingly wrong. About 87% of recipients will hold onto their swag for more than a year. And 85% will remember the company that gave it to them.

Plus – and you may not want to tell your media buyer this – 60.1% of recipients feel positive about receiving their marketing in the form of swag – nearly two times more than all other media combined.

Is swag really worth the expense? Well, consider that it has a lower cost-per-impression (CPI) than U.S. prime time TV, national magazine, and newspaper advertising, and its CPI, says ASI, is similar to spot radio and online ads. As for revenue, 79% of people who get promo products are reported to be likely to do business with the swag-giving company.

Bear in mind, your branded swag should be appropriate or useful to your customer. It also has to be good quality stuff. You can do more brand harm with junky/cheesy swag than you can without any.

The bottom line is that free stuff rocks. It pays to show some swagger!