US promotional products industry revenues increased by 4.4% to $18.5 billion last year, per a new report [pdf] from Promotional Products Association International (PPAI). That marked the 3rd consecutive year of growth, as sales volume surpassed levels from 2008. Total online sales of promotional products continued to increase, growing by more than 20% to exceed $3.7 billion, or roughly 20% of total sales.
Comparing that $18.5 billion in sales to some mass media ad revenues in the US: it’s larger than radio Â ($16.1 billion) last year, though trails newspapers ($22.8 billion), judging by recent market size estimates released by PwC.
Returning to the PPAI study, an examination of 2012 sales by product category reveals that the biggest sellers were:
- Wearables (such as T-shirts, golf shirts, caps, jackets), at 28.9% share of total product sales;
- Bags (8.7%);
- Writing instruments (8.6%); and
- Drinkware (7.1%).
It seems as though distributors are largely getting the mix right, as wearables and writing instruments are the most commonly recalled promotional product categories by consumers, according to an earlier study by PPAI.
- The breakdown of sales by program category shows business gifts as the top single category (10.8% of sales), followed by brand awareness (8.8%) and trade shows (8.1%).
- Larger distributors (more than $2.5 million) saw their sales volume grow by 7.8% last year.
About the Data: Approximately 25,000 promotional products distributors companies are surveyed by researchers at Relevant Insights, LLC, the University of Nevada and Glenrich Business Studies. A point estimate (mean) is derived and multiplied by the number of small distributor companies (22,105). To prevent distortion, a census of the larger distributor companies is conducted and the sum of their sales is added to the sales volume of the smaller distributor companies to arrive at the sales estimate for the entire industry.