What is Promotional Merchandise?
Promotional products fall under NAICS code 33511 consisting of items printed with a company name or slogan distributed to promote a brand, corporate identity or an event. The top promotional merchandise product categories are pens, uniforms, stress ballds, tumblers, badges, and anything else you might need done with your logo. Many companies mail promotional merchandise to their customers and their prospects. The North American Industry Classification System or NAICS is a classification of business establishments by type of economic activity. It is used by government and business in Canada, Mexico, and the United States of America.
Another big use of promotional items is at trade shows. Many companies like to give away pens, hats, bags, and other items when you visit their booth. These items are often sourced from a promotional products distributor who sources them in turn from a promotional products supplier.
Going back to Marketing 301, we all remember the 4 Ps of marketing right? Their is price, product, place, and promotion. Promotional products fall under promotion. The goal of a promotional product is eventually to sell more units or services and generate profits. When a steel company gives away a pen at a tradeshow they are hoping that the customer will see the pen later and think of them. Maybe they run out of something and the guy with the pen calls the steel company because he ended up having the pen on him.
Promotional Merchandise often consists of apparel. Where do you think all of the shirts with the little corporate logos come from? You need a company to make the fabric. You need a company to make the shirt. You need a company to embroider the logo. You need a company to buy the shirt and hire the embroiderer who will then sell the finished product to the client.
There are often a lot of layers in the supply chain of the promotional products industry. Often it starts with a factory in China who makes a product. They sell to a broker. The broker sells to an importer in the USA. A local printer buys a small amount of the item from the broker and prints on the item. A distributor buys printed item and sells it to her client.
Our item is one of the more unusual items in the promotional products world. We take a traditional bar stool that you might find in a restaurant or a bar and we decorate it and make it a unique product. That is one of the things that is special about promotional merchandise is that it is always something different. One day you are making a bar stool for Honeywell and the next it is for GE. Custom bar stools are a great promotional product to sell because they advertise at the point of purchase. If you have a new product and you want to tell everyone in the electrical supply shop about it, you might want to advertise on some bar stools and give it to the shop. They will put them in front of the counter and now everyone that walks in the store will see your message.
People also like hats, shirts, pens, stress balls and lots of other items. You can find pretty much anything in the promotional products industry. You can find vendors of gift cards, vendors of vacations, vendors of hot sauces. All of these items or experiences can be customized to meet the needs of your company messaging. How about a custom movie or song? Really, the options are endless. I just ordered custom Zippos for our company. It has been a while but we have ordered pens many times. We have ordered custom shirts for events like company outings and we have ordered button down shirts for doing trade shows.
Custom printed food is one of the newer categories of promotional merchandise. There are now printers that print with food grade dies so that you can eat the cake and the image on the cake. You may have seen this technology at your local baker. That is how they get the cake of the Avengers to look so perfect. This type of process can also be done to cookies. Food can be hand decorated and items like chocolate can be molded into special shapes. Even if you use stock food and drink, you can change the label. For instance, you can buy generic but good tasting wine and put your own special label on it.
The last area we are going to discuss is politics. I am sure you have seen yard signs, hats, shirts, drop ship stores, and all kinds of other printed items with either Biden or Trumps information. All of these items would fall under promotional products. Many of them cost money, but they are still subsidized and they definitely want you wearing the hats and shirts and putting up the yard signs.