What is a Promotional Product?

A promotional product is a product branded with a logo, image or slogan representing a company or brand. Promotional products differ from merchandise (film or music merchandise for example) in that the business that has commissioned the promotional product (the end user) does not profit from its direct sale. 

A promotional product is ultimately a marketing tool, and is used to heightened awareness of a brand, a product, or even a message. They are often distributed as 'freebies' or 'giveaways' at tradeshows, conferences, and corporate events, and are proven to be an extremeley cost-effective marketing medium. Other objectives that marketers use promotional items to facilitate include employee relations and events, public relations, new customer generation, dealer and distributor programs, new product introductions, employee service awards, not-for-profit programs, internal incentive programs, safety education, customer referrals, and marketing research.

There are tens of thousands of different types and styles of promotional products. In many cases, it's even possible to obtain custom items that aren't found in any catalogue. 

Some of the most popular promotional products include:

  • Pens
  • Mugs
  • T-shirts
  • Water bottles
  • Drink bottles
  • Boxed confectionery or chocolates
  • Caps
  • Tote bags

Industry structure

The backbone of the promotional products industry is a simple hierarchal stucture that has long determined the way business is conducted; suppliers sell to distributors, and distributors sell to end users.

A promotional products supplier is a promotional products company that manufactures, imports, converts, imprints or otherwise produces or processes promotional products offered for sale through promotional products distributors. A distributor of promotional products develops ideas for using promotional products in a marketing or promotional campaign, buys the items from the supplier and sells them to end buyers.