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Research : UK is a nation of freebie hunters and that brands who use promotional products as part of the marketing mix will reap the benefits

A survey commissioned by Promotional Products Week has shown that the UK is a nation of freebie hunters and that brands who use promotional products as part of the marketing mix will reap the benefits.

The survey questioned 1000 men and women.

Brands, companies and organisations should note that 3 in 10 consumers stated they have purposely changed their regular brand in order to receive a promotional product.  Nearly half of consumers (48 per cent) would switch their brand for cooking accessories, while nearly 42 per cent would switch for a coffee mug.

Other items that can persuade consumers to change brand include fizzy drink branded glasses (39 per cent), a cuddly toy, such as the puppy associated with a well-known toilet roll brand (34 per cent), the meerkat toy (34 per cent), a cosmetic purse or tote bag (30 per cent) and the monkey toy associated with a familiar tea brand (28 per cent). Men are most likely to switch their brand for a coffee mug, while women would switch their brand for cooking accessories.

Of the promotional products that consumers have and use 62 per cent stated they have a pen, 35 per cent a mug, 33 per cent a keyring, 25 per cent a t-shirt or sweatshirt and 25 per cent a drinking glass, with other items of merchandise kept and used including USB sticks, bags, caps and notepads.


The reasons why consumers keep promotional products are highlighted with 82 per cent of consumers stating that they keep them because they are useful, 24 per cent because they are relevant and 20 per cent because they are good quality, although, interestingly, over a quarter (26 per cent) keep them because they are a novelty.

The power and attraction of promotional merchandise is clearly demonstrated in the results of the survey, with almost a sixth of consumers saying that they would use devious means, such as giving out false personal details or gaining uninvited entry to a venue or event, to get an item.  The importance of usefulness when selecting a product again comes to the forefront with almost two thirds accounting for their underhand behaviour on the usefulness of the product.  The results showed that the most popular item that consumers act deviously to acquire are free branded toiletries with a third conning their way into receiving them (33 per cent).  Other items obtained by cunning means include drinking glasses (31 per cent), iconic items of clothing such as t-shirts or caps (30 per cent) and towels (21 per cent)

Drinking glasses are a popular freebie with men, with two-fifths using devious means to secure one, while a quarter of women have been deceitful to bag a free soft toy.

The places where consumers have or expect to pick up promotional products was highlighted with 80 per cent stating they would at exhibitions, three-fifths (60 per cent) at roadshows, 49 per cent in hotel rooms, 38 per cent in banks, 32 per cent in hotel receptions and 31 per cent at car dealers or garages

Looking at branding on promotional products, nearly half (47 per cent) said that ‘significant’ branding was acceptable, whereas a third (33 per cent) stated that branding should be ‘subtle.’

While it might be expected that younger people would be more fussy about the brand on a product, in fact the results showed that the reputation of a brand would sway over three quarters of 35-44 year olds (77%), whereas half of 18-25 year olds would not be affected by this.

In the current economic difficulties nearly three-fifths of consumers said they are more likely to keep freebies than before the recession. What’s more, 1 in 10 consumers said they would give a free branded product as a gift to a friend or family member, again showing how product choice can help to raise brand awareness among not only the direct recipient, but among wider friends and family as well.

Gordon Glenister, Director-General of the BPMA which is organising Promotional Products Week, said: “The study clearly shows why promotional merchandise remains popular with brands and end-users. If the right product is chosen to suit the target audience, then it is desired and kept by them, giving ongoing brand exposure.  The results of this survey, giving us information direct from consumers, re-affirm what previous studies have shown about the power of promotional merchandise in aiding brand awareness and sales for brands, companies and organisations.”

Promotional Products Week runs from 16-20th September 2013.  It is being run by the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA) and is designed to raise awareness of the power of promotional products.



  • The research was carried out by Atomik Research, an independent research company
  • The survey was commissioned by the BPMA.
  • A UK wide study was conducted online among 1000 adults randomly selected to be representative of the UK population. Students and people under 18 were excluded.
  • Of the 1000 responses received there were 579 female respondents and 421 male respondents

For further information,

Val Mumby

Promotional Products Week Press Office

Clareville Communications

Tel: 020 7736 4022


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