An international breakdown of promotional product popularity


Promotional products have been a popular form of marketing a brand or product for decades now and it’s a medium that has been used widely around the world. However, is the popularity of different promotional products the same across various countries around the world?

ASI, a promotional merchandising board from the US, recently conducted a survey looking into the use of promotional products* from various countries (which include the likes of Canada, USA, Mexico, Spain, Germany, Italy, France, UK and Australia). We’ve looked at the trends and differences from their findings below.

What’s the most popular promotional item?

If you’ve followed our blogs then we’re sure you’ve heard us mention pens being “stalwarts” of the promotional merchandise world – well the research continues to show why. Not only have they been around for years, but they seem to consistently remain the number one promotional item. Writing instruments proved to be in the top 2 most popular items in 7 of the 9 countries that were looked at (with them placing 3rd in both the US and Mexico).

It’s great to see that even as technology progressively ingrains itself into our day to day life, the simple pen still plays a huge role.

The popularity of promotional clothing proved can vary greatly depending on which item of clothing it is. The research found that shirts are generally the favoured choice with them coming above other items of clothing such as headwear and outer wear in every single country.

This doesn’t mean that other items should be overlooked, however given the fact that shirts are usually a lot more versatile, with them being used for charity events, for use as temporary uniform instore to promote a need product/service, or even as giveaways to customers (a popular promotional tool for video game producers), they tend to be the go-to choice of promotional clothing.

Mexico’s thirst for drinkware

While the bulk of the items in the research showed similar rates of popularity across all of the countries, drinkware proved to be significantly more popular in Mexico than anywhere else. It came in as the most popular promotional item in Mexico while sitting amongst the middle of the pack in all of the other countries. The research doesn’t determine why drinkware is far more popular in Mexico than other countries, but certainly outlines a favourability towards certain products in certain countries.

Calendars prove popular in central Europe

The research also showed calendars as being popular in Germany, Spain and Italy. They were the 3rd most popular items in Germany and Italy, and 4th in Spain. This goes to show that while many people are reliant on the smartphones and computers for access of calendars, a physical copy in the workplace or even at home is still a popular option. Add to this the fact that desk calendars are still very much evident in offices and it’s easy to see why they remain so popular,

What to take away

The promotional products you choose to run with shouldn’t be defined solely by what is “popular”, however it certainly provides a good guide to gauge what could work. Remember to keep in mind what you want to achieve from your promotional activity along with items that suit your brand and are likely to appeal to your target audience.

Items such as pens and mugs have a general appeal however if you’re target audience is children then you’d be better served offering items such as balloons or colouring books. Similarly, teenagers or young adults aged under 30 are known to be heavily invested in smartphones so smartphone related accessories would usually be ideal to target them.

If you still need a hand to find the perfect promotional items for your business then feel free to contact us or use our brainstorm assistant service for some ideas.

*The research from 2016 defines promotional items as being items which are given away for free with a degree of branding on them.