Consumers Covet Promo During Economic Hardships
Will the economy enter a downturn? Maybe. Signs may point to a recession on the near horizon, but expectations are that it will be modest in scope and duration. Regardless, softening economies often cause lean times for businesses as they make cuts and scale back.
New research shows that even in a downturn, promotional products can be as valuable as ever – or more.
In fact, promo’s value to its end users, relative to other forms of advertising, only goes up during a downturn. A February 2023 survey of more than 480 consumers asking about their attitudes toward different forms of advertising during periods of economic hardship they’ve experienced found that, during times of economic hardship, 59% of people would rather receive a useful promotional product than be exposed to ads on television, social media, radio and other forms of advertising.
During times of economic hardship, 59% of people say they would rather receive a useful promotional product than be exposed to ads on television, social media, radio and other forms of advertising.
The results are clear – promotional products make people feel special, especially when times are tough. Whether employers are aiming to boost morale or businesses are trying to reach new customers, promotional products can help. Not only do people want more useful promotional merchandise, but they’re open to it coming from brands they’re familiar with, as well as brands they’re new to.
Managing A Business
Downturns can put significant demands on a company and its staff. Businesses may struggle with budget cuts, staffing shortages and other pressures. Employees can be under considerable strain as they work to do more with less.
For larger organizations, the data from PPAI’s study shows that promotional products are valuable tools for building and reinforcing employee loyalty and a collaborative environment.
- 53% of people feel included in their team when they receive promotional products.
- 62% feel appreciated by their employer when they receive promotional products.
- Employees between the ages of 47 and 74 are the most likely to feel appreciated when receiving promotional products from an employer. Data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows the highest median incomes among Americans between the ages of 45 and 54, so this can explain in part why a gift versus more money may make employees in this age group feel more appreciated.
It’s easy to lose track of disillusioned employees during a downturn. Show them appreciation to give them confidence and keep your company top of mind. Thoughtful, targeted and personalized branded merch to employees can do both.
The study shows that promotional products are valuable tools for building and reinforcing employee loyalty and a collaborative environment. A majority of employees say they feel included in their team and appreciated by their employer when they receive promotional products.
Successfully managing a downturn also demands a certain amount of agility on the part of management to seek out solutions and pivot to new opportunities – cutting expenses, renegotiating renewals, etc. That means being more creative and more proactive.
Recessions and downturns are rarely evenly distributed. Business managers should keep an eye out for trends that aren’t declining and any sectors of the economy that continue to grow. For example, opportunities can be found in industries where demand is consistent, no matter the state of people’s income – healthcare, home improvement, utilities, communications and technology for home offices, big box retailers and consumer staples, to name a few. Healthcare actually grew during the downturns of 1990 and 2001.
Building Your Brand
Promotional products reinforce and create consumers’ relationships with brands during the best of times, but during a down economy they are particularly important. PPAI’s research shows that 67% of people would like to receive promotional products from brands they know and like. This is particularly acute among people between the ages of 35 and 46, with more than two-thirds receiving promotional merchandise from their preferred brands.
The 35-46 age group is also the most likely to receive promo from the brands they know and like, and they return the attention. PPAI’s survey found that this age group is the most likely to purchase a product from a known company who sends promotional products over a known company that does not.
And among those that aren’t familiar with a brand, 61% said that they would look up a brand they didn’t know if they received a promotional product from them. Promo’s goodwill extends to products consumers aren’t necessarily in the market for. The study found that 62% of people think positively about a brand they cannot afford if they receive promotional products from them.
More than 6 in 10 survey respondents say:
- They would look up a brand they aren’t familiar with if they receive a promotional product from them.
- They would think positively about a brand they cannot afford if they receive promotional products from them.
- Product quality is more important than quantity.
Promotional products are invaluable tools for reinforcing businesses’ relationships with their clients. The study found that 83% of respondents identified promo as strengthening their loyalty to the brands they already do business with. The survey results were robust across all age groups, peaking among consumers between the ages of 59 and 74 (90%).
Promo products help brands stay connected to their audience, and those that make promo a priority can stay ahead of their budget-cutting competitors by using creative branded merch to raise awareness. The perfect time to grab market share is when your competitors are lowering their visibility.
Promo also can play a role in mitigating business pressures stemming from a recession. As companies start to downsize and tasks are given to employees who may have less training, the research shows that promotional products offer a way to help businesses maintain a positive feeling in the minds of their customers.
- 81% of consumers say they would come away with a positive impression of a business if, along with the resolution of a customer service issue, they received a promotional product.
- Consumers between 59-74 are the most likely to think positively of a brand after having a customer service issue resolved if they receive promotional products.
How can promotional products help your brand build lasting customer connections? Contact your distributor partner to learn more.