NEW YORK As marketers continue their debate over the next great advertising medium, a new study released by the Advertising Specialty Institute  found it's not TV, print or radio that gets consumers' attention, but good old promotional swag.
This includes coffee mugs, pencils, retractable solar-powered flashlights or any other product bearing a company logo. Promotional products made up a $19.6 billion industry in 2007, per the ASI. Through surveys conducted both online and in-person in major cities, such as New York and Los Angeles, the institute also found that promotional products generate a cost-per-impression average of $0.004, compared to $.033 for national magazine ads or $0.019 for prime time TV ads.
The surveys asked 600 participants (who were mostly businesspeople over the age of 21) to recall promotional swag received over the last 12 months. Key findings include:
-- 84 percent of consumers remembered an advertiser based on a product they received.
-- 42 percent had a more favorable impression of an advertiser after receiving a promotional product.
-- Nearly one quarter (24 percent) indicated they are more likely to do business with an advertiser based on items they receive.
-- The majority of respondents (62 percent) have done business with an advertiser after receiving a product.
-- Writing instruments are the most commonly owned tchotchkes, with 54 percent of respondents owning them, followed by shirts, caps and bags.
-- Most (81 percent) promotional products were kept because they were considered useful.
-- More than three-quarters of respondents have kept their items for about seven months.
-- Among wearables, bags were reported to be used most frequently, with respondents indicating that they use their bags on average nine times per month.
-- Bags deliver the most impressions, with 1,038 impressions per month on average.
ASI president and CEO Timothy Andrews said the findings indicate that promotional products yield a higher ROI, along with very low cost-per-impression, compared to other advertising media. Moreover, items received this year still generated a high recall rate among recipients, leading to greater purchase intent.
"During a time when we're facing turbulent economic conditions, this research advises marketers and business owners to invest in advertising specialties (promotional products) now more than ever," Andrews said. "Advertising specialties provide measurable results for a very reasonable investment."