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End Buyers Rank Promotional Products High
A new ASI survey of end-buyers shows promotional products are the second most effective advertising medium overall, ahead of newspapers, radio and network television. Respondents only felt the Internet was a more useful marketing tool. Additionally, respondents say creativity is the top trait they consider when assessing distributors, significantly outdistancing the importance of price recommendations.

Alluding to economic concerns, survey results also indicate that a substantial decline in advertising specialty sales for 2009 is expected, in the range of at least 8%-12%. Specifically, nearly one-half of end-buyers (45%) said spending on ad specialties would be lower in 2009 compared to 2008. Within individual markets, 48% of respondents who work in education anticipate an increase in spending in the second half of 2009, significantly higher than any other segment. By contrast, manufacturing is the most conservative segment, with 41% anticipating lower spending overall.

Almost one-half (48%) of respondents believed that promotional products deliver positive return on investment (ROI). Those who have the highest expectations for promotional products ROI plan to spend significantly more money on them this year than those who believe promotional products are simply “nice to have but don’t add real value.”

According to respondents, business gifts are the most commonly used promotional product, cited by over two-thirds (69%) of those surveyed. More than half (53%) of respondents use promotional products for customer retention and loyalty programs, while 48% use promotional products for customer acquisition programs. While spending is down this year on employee incentive and recognition programs, survey results show spending is flat for customer programs, indicating that more end-buyers are focusing on these types of programs.

Nearly one-half (47%) of end-buyers perceive shirts as the most effective product in reaching program goals, viewed as particularly effective for employee incentive programs or trade promotions. Writing instruments (42%), bags (38.5%) and computer-related products (35.3%) were also ranked as highly-effective items in reaching program goals. 

In total, there were 414 responses to the survey. All of the respondents buy, recommend or approve the use of promotional products as part of their company’s marketing strategy.
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