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Top 50 swag items survey says are the best things to get for free

More than half of Americans love getting products from brands and 51% regularly use them in their day-to-day life.



Free Stuff card with sky background
(ESB Professional via Shutterstock)

Branded t-shirts, pens, mugs and more — a new survey has found Americans “love” collecting promotional swag.

A poll of 2,000 adults revealed when receiving such products, the priorities are how unique it is (38%), the use they will get out of it (38%) and (35%) how sustainable the item is (34%).

More than half (53%) love getting products from brands and 51% regularly use them in their day-to-day life.

Among the top 50 best items to receive according to Americans were water bottles, tote bags, calendars, and phone covers.

T-shirts came top — 41% agreed wearing or using items with certain brand logos helps represent their personality.

Commissioned by VistaPrint and conducted by OnePoll, the study found three quarters have changed their perception of a brand in a positive way after receiving a promotional product from them.

And people are more likely to write a positive review online (40%), recommend the brand to others (40%) and follow them on social media (39%) if they get merchandise.

Similarly, an unusual design (45%), distinctive brand name (38%) and quote or catchphrase (37%) are most likely to make people remember a brand.

Almost half (49%) prefer receiving merch from small businesses while 46% enjoy getting promo products that they can regularly use.

“The research shows how much Americans love using branded physical products to reflect a bit of their personality,” said Llorenç Sola, General Manager of VistaPrint Promotional Products, Apparel and Gifts.

“Our data shows that many people prefer to receive promotional products from small businesses and unknown brands. This indicates how effective promotional products and merch can be for small businesses in helping spread the word and give off a positive perception of their brand.

“By seeing others wearing a t-shirt or carrying a bag or water bottle, those who may never have heard of a brand before will be introduced to it.”

The study also the most common place to receive free swag is job fairs (50%).

Other places Americans have stocked up on promo items included college open days (47%), venue openings such as cafes or stores (41%) and their own place of work (33%).

Similarly, 83% have worn or used a product from the company they work for, including t-shirts (44%), notebooks (34%) and travel mugs (32%).

And the benefits for employees receiving merchandise were found to be feeling rewarded (58%) and building team spirit (49%).

Two-thirds typically keep and regularly use merchandise, while 58% have gifted items to others and 34% take products such as mugs into their workplace for communal use.

Four in 10 claim they are loyal to brands, with clothing (35%), mobile phones (34%) and shoes (34%) the type of companies Americans are most loyal too.

Llorenç Sola added: “With American customers prioritizing how unique a promotional product is, we recommend brands get creative when it comes to designing their physical branded products.”


  • T-shirts
  • Pens
  • Mugs
  • Water bottles
  • Headphones
  • Tote bags
  • Sunglasses
  • Hoodies
  • Calendar
  • Umbrella
  • Cap
  • USB charger        
  • Hand sanitizer          
  • Phone covers        
  • Flashlight        
  • Laptop/tablet case        
  • Travel coffee cups        
  • Blankets/throws        
  • Chocolate bar
  • Lunchbox        
  • USB stick        
  • Car air freshener  
  • Sweets
  • Fridge magnets        
  • Tea towel/dish towel        
  • Backpacks
  • Drinking glass e.g pint glass, shot glass
  • Mousepad
  • First aid kit
  • Bottle openers       
  • Face masks (PPE)        
  • Portable speakers
  • Glasses case
  • Baked goods e.g. cookies/brownies        
  • Keyring      
  • Laptop sticker        
  • DIY tools
  • Socks        
  • Car sticker        
  • Coasters    
  • Stress ball
  • Sweatbands        
  • Bookmarks        
  • Drink koozie
  • Tape measure
  • Pop socket
  • Bicycle reflectors
  • Photo frame
  • Packet of plant seeds
  • Beanie hat

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