Top 3 Promo Product Picks for Trade Shows

Girl holding tote bag with imprint states impressions

Girl holding tote bag with imprint states impressions

Did you know that 81% of promotional items were kept because they were considered useful?As this year wraps up, now is a great time for distributors to talk to their customers about next year’s trade show and event schedules, helping to select promotional products that are not only useful, but are also likely to be kept after an event.

In this post we’ve narrowed it down to the top 3 product category picks for trade show giveaway items, for any industry, featuring items that are:

  • Useful
  • Memorable
  • Easy to transport, and
  • Budget-friendly


From cotton totes to foldaway shopping tote bags to drawstring backpacks—bags are a customer-favorite at trade shows, festivals, and events.

Researchers have found that among products within the wearable category (i.e. T-shirts), bags were reported to be used most frequently. Respondents indicated that they used their bags an average of 9 times per month; each bag averaging 1,038 impressions per month.2

Why End-Users Love Bags. After checking in at the event registration desk, “Is there a bag?” is often the first question attendees will ask—and with good reason. When your hands are full of product samples, business cards and brochures, it can be challenging to network, shake hands, and navigate the showroom floor. Bags are super helpful for end-users, allowing them to carry their trade show finds in one convenient carryall.

 Why Marketers Prefer Bags. Customers love bags because they’re light and compact, making for a travel-friendly promo product that’s easy to ship, pack, and transport to the event.

Harbor Non-Woven Tote Bag (item #UDH)

*Distributor Tip: What’s better than having your customer’s brand on the carryall item that an end-user takes with them from booth to booth? Bags act as a walking advertising billboard of sorts, and are likely to be used long after the trade show event.

Writing Instruments

We may be biased, but branded pens are always a good idea for trade shows—or any event, product launch, or marketing inventory for that matter. Research has shown that writing instruments were the most-recalled promotional items—a whopping 54% of study respondents recalled owning them.1 Outside of the affordability and everyday use value, everyone (and we mean everyone) uses pens.

Why End-Users Love Pens. “I have too many pens.” –said no one ever. Pens are part of our everyday life, and end-users can’t pass up the opportunity to take home one or two of these useful promotional products that are sure to be put to good use. What’s more is that they’re easy to drop in a bag or purse and travel extremely well.

Why Marketers Prefer Pens. Pens work. Period. When branded with a website, phone number, or a sales rep’s contact info, pens make for great business cards for booth staff. Not only are pens incredibly affordable when compared to other advertising mediums, but nowadays there are several product and decoration options available that allow customers to truly brand a pen to their own likeness.

Slim Metallic pen with 360-degree decoration (item #PWI)

*Distributor Tip: Writing instruments are incredibly versatile. From the decoration method (i.e. laser engraving vs. direct imprint) to the trim and barrel accent colors, pens can be customized to a customer’s brand without breaking the bank.

Light Ups

Light-up items make an excellent choice for event giveaways because of their diminutive size and portability, and their practicality. (Who couldn’t use a small flashlight to keep in their car or attach to their keyring?) Outside of keyring flashlights, there are light-up writing instruments like multi-functional pens, and LED bars to keep brands in the spotlight.

Why End-Users Love Light-Up Items. Simply put: they’re just plain helpful and practical for everyday use. Light-up items with clips can help secure flyaway handouts or brochures, and can easily clip onto a bag or backpack.

Why Marketers Prefer Light-Up Items. Light-up items stand out—literally—from other types of promotional products, putting these small but mighty lights in a class of their own. The multi-function capabilities of light-up pens is attractive to marketers because it offers differentiation: something that makes one promotional product stand apart from the rest. A pen that writes, lights, and scrolls offers an unexpected benefit to end-users.

Chroma Midnight Keyring Flashlight (item #QAL)

*Distributor Tip: Promotional products that stand apart from the ordinary, yet are practical for everyday use, make for memorable, positive brand experiences.

If you enjoyed this post, be sure to read 3 Tips to Deliver Impactful Promotional Products.

References: 1. ASI Impressions Study, November 2008. 2. ASI Global Advertising Impressions Survey, 2016. 

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