The Impact of Branded Merchandise on Customer Loyalty

Chloe Ayres
January 10, 2024

For many years, promotional products have been a powerful tool for driving brand awareness. The efficacy of company swag lies in its ability to motivate consumers to take action, even though they are given for free. 

Company merchandise such as t-shirts, custom socks, water bottles, magnets, and coffee mugs have been proven to work, with data showing that 76.1% of consumers remember the brand of a company due to corporate swag they received in the past year. This is in contrast to only 53% who could remember a print or television ad from the past month and only 27% who recalled an online ad. 

Spend vs Return

Brands allocate their ad dollars nearly three times more for brand swag, which is evidence of their effectiveness in improving brand recognition and increasing sales. It is also yielding a better return on investment.

In the US, marketers are also investing almost three times more in customized promotional items than in search marketing, spending nearly $17 billion annually on them. This may come as a surprise since SEO and Google Adwords are often seen as the go-to options for advertising. However, the numbers indicate that logo merchandise such as keychains and magnets are effective in increasing customer loyalty and driving traffic. 

Research shows that 73% of people who received company giveaways in the past year use their giveaway at least once a week, and 45.2% use it daily. Therefore, the question is not whether to use promotional products for branding, but rather the best swag items to choose. Brands should also note that although the upfront cost of branded gifts is higher per unit than other advertising methods, they provide more guaranteed impressions, making them a valuable investment.

Woman shown scrolling on her smart phone

Impression Share

Studies have shown that repeating a brand's message is more effective in capturing the audience's attention. We are all familiar with Geico’s Gecko and their slogan “15 minutes could save 15% or more on car insurance.” This is an example of achieving quality repetitive messaging. 

Some research indicates that consumers need to be exposed to a brand's message at least seven times for it to be memorable. This means that digital or TV ads need to appear in front of the target audience at least seven times, either through banner ads, sponsored ads on social media or YouTube, or traditional television commercials. However, it is difficult to grab the consumer's attention that many times. 

On the other hand, promotional products, such as brand apparel, only require giving the audience a branded product once. These products are used weekly by over 50% of people, and as a result, the brand name would be seen at least 52 times per year. Promotional products are an effective way to increase the company's image, create a positive impression of the advertiser, and generate long-term, repeated exposure.

Branded Merchandise Helps Build Brand Recognition

The first step in building customer loyalty is creating a brand that your customer recognizes and relates to with personal experiences. By constructing a strong brand identity and presence, a company can become more visible and recognizable to their customers. Doing so can help to cement their place in the market and create a lasting impression on their customers.

A few ways branded merchandise can help build your brand:

Swag for business can be leveraged to increase recognition of a brand and draw in fresh customers.

Provide something beneficial and special for daily use to remind your prospect of your product or service.

Keeping your company name visible to your target audience, even when working from home, is achievable through the use of branded items.

Companies can put their logo, name, branding elements, or a QR code on promotional items.

Tips for Creating Branded Merchandise That Creates a Lasting Positive Impression

QR codes are experiencing a comeback in the marketing world, providing a great opportunity to link the physical world to the digital. With a QR code, one can direct the person to swag stores or a special landing page with more details, product info, or even use it to gain contact information through an offer and form.

In order for your business to be recognized, one must be aware of the services and quality provided. As such, it is essential to use high quality promotional products which accurately reflect your marketing message. 

When investing in these materials, it is wise to get a sample of the product you intend to purchase to ensure it is usable and worthwhile. For instance, if a pen does not write properly, it is likely to be discarded along with the positive impression of your brand. 

As a result, it is important to be creative and select business gifts that are:

Pertinent to your business

Conveying information about your business in an imaginative way

Designed and carefully chosen to fit the needs of the customers

Dependable and will deliver on time so that you can fulfill your client’s orders

Adaptable to your promotional plan and marketing materials

Highly valued by your customers

Three Ideas for Increasing Customer Loyalty through Branded Merchandise on Company Stores

Post on Instagram from bethanyfrancesca showing a giveaway partnership with Glossier to give away their branded sweatshirt

Post on Instagram from @bethanyfrancesca showing a giveaway partnership with Glossier to give away their branded sweatshirt

Branded Merchandise Giveaways on Social Media

It doesn't matter what type of service or product your business is providing, utilizing a diverse set of promotional techniques can result in a heightened level of brand recognition. 

Social media is a great outlet to connect with your clients and give them the opportunity to view your business from a different light. You can use LinkedIn or Facebook to hand out a freebie or corporate apparel which will lead them to your website or contact your sales representatives. 

Direct mail is also a great way to advertise what your company has to offer in the prospecting phase and to use the free item as an incentive for them to come to an event or communicate via email.

Screenshot of a referral program from The Hustle, a popular business newsletter, showing the branded swag rewards you achieve from performing certain actions

Screenshot of a referral program from The Hustle, a popular business newsletter, showing the branded swag rewards you achieve from performing certain actions

Implement Referral Program with Swag Gifts As Rewards

Reward your faithful customers and build up your customer base by introducing a customer referral program. Show your appreciation with a free product or gift card when they refer new clients. Enhance brand recognition and customer loyalty when you provide promotional products to your top-tier customers. This will help to strengthen your customer base and ultimately boost your business.

A custom branded client birthday gift from Snacknation including a candle, snacks, water bottle, and stainless steel wine glass

A custom branded client birthday gift from Snacknation including a candle, snacks, water bottle, and stainless steel wine glass

Send Birthday Gifts to Top Clients and Developing Accounts

To make your customers feel valued, consider sending them customized swag as a birthday gift. This gesture not only provides a personalized touch but also helps in reinforcing your brand in the minds of the recipients. Moreover, satisfied customers are likely to spread the word about your gift, resulting in more business opportunities. It is essential to include your business logo and contact details on the promotional item to maximize its impact.


Receiving gifts and freebies is a pleasure for people. Promotional items are a cost-efficient way of connecting with more prospective customers and advertising your brand. Offering items at events and conferences reinforces client attachment and faithfulness to a specific brand, as well as brings more character and tangibility to business partnerships. 

Thoroughly planned and creative gift items will produce a significant effect and attract your customers' / clients' attention to boost your brand recognition. The goal of a promotional item is to form a positive association for your company as you collaborate with your customer providing services and goods to help them expand their business.

Chloe Ayres
January 10, 2024