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It pays to keep it old school

From adverts to retail the digital age has had a huge impact on the way we consume products and relate to brands. We shop online, discover new fashion designers through Instagram and learn about emerging artists and record labels through Bandcamp. Most of all, we share our loyalties through the same platforms, liking, sharing and posting about the products, artists and businesses we relate to. 

We’ll admit it: when you can create an entire business online in minutes and promote and sell at the click of a button, the concept of using promotional merch can feel a little, well, dated. Why invest in printing t-shirts, caps and tote bags to promote your shop, charityrestaurant or yoga studio when you could just buy some ads, promote a post on Facebook and let the sales roll in?

The truth is promotional merch matters more than ever. Speaking to Forbes (one mag that certainly knows a thing or two about good business), Quality Logo Products CEO Bret Bonnet said: “Promotional products are as effective today, if not more, than 10 years ago.” 

Blok London gym - Blok X Puma collaboration

This is backed up by some pretty impressive stats. In a study of 650 companies undertaken by the Boston Consulting Group, Yale School of Management and industry research firm Cambriar, it was found that 87 percent of buyers credit promotional products with contributing to the success in reaching their marketing goals and more than half said marketing in this way helped them engage more regularly with customers. 

But for a real whopper how about this? The research also found that 96% of marketers believe promotional products are one of the most effective forms of advertising.

So why is promotional merch so effective? One reason is that while you’re very likely to stare right through an online ad, you’re much more likely to remember something physical. One study found that promotional merchandise encouraged brand recall in 9 out of 10 customers. Traditional adverts (and even online ones) have this effect on just 2 out of 10. 

Other studies have shown similar results. Research by ASI found that 85% of consumers remembered advertisers who gave them a shirt or hat. Another study by Identity Works showed that 71% of attendees at trade shows remembered the name of the company that gave them a promotional product – and the majority of these people also felt positively towards the company too (who doesn’t enjoy a freebie?).

So promotional merch helps people remember your brand better than conventional advertising. But another unique thing about merch is that a it hangs around much longer too – especially if you create something slick, stylish and fashionable. With a regular ad you look once, then it’s gone. A well made piece of merch will be kept (and worn) by a customer for a very long time. And when they’re done with it, they’ll probably give it away so it can live on through other wearers. Done right, promotional merch transforms your customers into brand ambassadors – wearing your logo, slogan or mission statement with pride. 

Of course, digital communication is an amazing tool and tech has always been at the heart of how ICON delivers its products. Our clients are pretty forward thinking when it comes to tech too, from Boiler Room to Google, WeWork to Citymapper. If those guys believe in promotional merch then, well, it must be worth something. The digital age is exciting, but sometimes it’s well worth keeping it old school.

Looking for merch printing from the pros? At ICON Printing we offer fast turnaround printing and embroidery with a wide-ranging catalogue from t-shirts to caps to bagsGet a quote in 2 minutes online