Promotional merchandise marketing techniques can deliver a higher - or at least equal - return on on investment (ROI) compared to most other forms of advertising, according to research from the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA). This article is copyright 2012 The Best Customer Guide.

The survey of senior marketers in the UK was carried out by an independent research firm with respondents from a range of sectors including finance, IT, retail, professional services, insurance, charity and education. One of the most significant findings of the survey was that spending on promotional merchandise in 2012 is generally either increasing or remaining stable in comparison to 2011, with 49% increasing their spend and 30% maintaining their spend on it.

This positive trend also seems to be continuing, with 33% planning to increase spending in 2013 compared to 2012, and a further 50% expect it to remain the same in 2013.

The percentage of sales and marketing budgets being spent on promotional items within the marketing budget is also increasing overall or remaining stable, with 43% having increased the percentage and 36% saying it was the same as before.

One third (33%) said that they had made a promotional merchandise purchase every month, while another third (33%) said they made purchases every three months, and 13% said they made such purchases twice a year.

When asked about the main reasons why merchandise is used in sales and marketing campaigns (as opposed to using other incentives such as discounts or special offers), 69% said that it is because it targets customers effectively, 52% felt it was because the brand message lasts longer, and 46% said it was because of its ability to create feelings of loyalty.

Nearly three-quarters (73%) said that they use promotional merchandise at conferences and events, and 63% use it for brand awareness and rebranding. Merchandise is also used for 'cause awareness' and 'product launches and roll-outs' because it is often effective in getting attention and driving sales.

According to Stephen Barker, director for the BPMA, "To hear directly from senior marketers themselves that spend on promotional products is rising clearly shows the importance that is placed on merchandise in the marketing mix."

The top three items purchased were: pens (35%); pads, notebooks and post-its (13%); and eco/canvas shopping bags (10%).