The first known promotional products were memorial badges/buttons dating back to the election in the United States for George Washington in 1789. During the 19th century, there were some advertising items like promotional calendars, promotional rulers, wooden products, but there was no recognised industry for promotional product distributions like today until later in that century. The originator of the industry, Jasper Meeks, a printer set up a local shoe shop that sold printed book bags with the name of the local shop and schools. Soon other businessman picked up on the idea and offered other items like marbles, fans, cloths, aprons etc. In the UK and Ireland, the promotional merchandise industry only really became more sophisticated in the late 1950’s, but the real growth came in the 1970’s. It was the realisation by corporate companies that these promotional products had great benefits and then became part of their marketing mix. These companies added their logo’s and marketing strap lines to the products, but it was the 1980’s that large ranges of products increased. Promotional distributors then offered catalogues with over 1,000’s products available to brand.
How the Industry Works
The promotional products industry is made up of distributors and trade-only suppliers. In the early days, for example a “mouse mat” supplier would phone around companies trying to convince them to spend part of their marketing budget on mouse mats. It soon became apparent the enormous task involved, much easier to sell to distributors and let them sell their products buying at a reduced rate and move to a trade-only operation. Even today, often suppliers start on their own then once they’re recognised move over to the trade as they’re guaranteed income.
In the 1990’s there were a expansion of Catalogue Groups who offered their limited members a unique catalogue service. For the distributors it meant they could pay a monthly charge and have a yearly catalogue and website made for them. Unfortunately large organisations offered unlimited companies including print and stationery companies the same service for “free”. Still till this day the best and most successful promotional distributors are independent like Concise Media Branding Ltd
Best Selling Products
Printed pens are still the most searched promotional product, but trends change all the time as once mouse mats was always high on clients promotional products list. With the invention of the infra-red mouse and many Apple products this has now almost disappeared. Clients are looking for more and more unusual promotional ideas
This blog post was written by Paul Beswick, Home Based SEO Specialist/Consultant for Concise Media Branding Ltd.