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Lessons from the 2020 ASI Global Ad Impressions Study: A Statistical Breakdown

If advertising were a competition (which it is), then promotional merchandise would be the winner every time. Every year, the Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) conducts a detailed analysis of the advertising world and, as you might have predicted, promotional merchandise is frequently the most favoured by consumers.

And why not?

Let's face it, we all love receiving free merch. When that merch is useful, attractive, and of a good quality, our appreciation for it skyrockets. Big businesses and organisations have known this for decades now and that’s why promotional merchandise will never go away. If you want to find out why branded merchandising is such an effective tool, read this article we wrote a few weeks ago.

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Some brands, the particularly massive ones like Coca-Cola, can even sell their promotional products to consumers. That’s advertising and sales all-in-one. For most companies though, promotional merchandise is given out freely with the intention of gaining impressions.

But what are impressions? The total number of impressions is the amount of times that ad has been viewed or seen. It is used to measure (along with other metrics) the effectiveness of an ad. How the guys and gals over at ASI have managed to work out the estimated impressions of promotional merchandise products is beyond us.

For now, let’s start with a promotional product that has gone from relative obscurity to having the highest potential impact in the space of half a year. That’s right, you already know what it is.


We see masks everywhere nowadays. And rightly so. We all need to play our part in keeping each other safe. As we grow and learn as mask-wearers (for the time being!) we are beginning to understand the negative effects. Disposable masks are a huge environmental concern and are contributing to plastic waste.

Businesses should be taking advantage of this unique opportunity to not only get their brand out there but to also give people more options.

The data from ASI backs this up:

- Just over half of consumers would look on an advertiser more favourably if they received a branded mask from them.

- 57% would be more likely to do business with a company that gave them a branded mask.

- Only 39% of consumers report owning a branded mask currently – a gap that promotional products suppliers and distributors can help bridge.

- 80% of consumers say they wear a mask most of the time when in public.

- 71% of consumers would willingly wear a branded mask at least once a week.

As you can see, masks represent a huge branding opportunity. At the very least, businesses should provide all their workers with company masks to help prevent unnecessary plastic waste that can be indirectly linked to that business. It is also good for the company culture and sense of belonging.


As the saying goes, the pen is mightier than the sword. But is it mightier than the power bank?

The experts over at ASI have released a detailed breakdown of various popular promotional items ranging from pens to power banks but also including t-shirts, caps, hoodies and more. Using various key metrics, they were able to calculate exactly how much each item costs per impression (CPI).

So, first off, pens. 89% of consumers that were surveyed by ASI said that they own some form of promotional writing equipment. Usually pens. An item of promotional writing equipment is estimated to generate 3,000 impressions over its lifetime (approx. 9 months.) So, considering that, a $1 pen will have a CPI of just one tenth of a cent.

What about power banks? Pens are the old guard, an ever-present feature of the promotional world. Power banks, on the other hand, are a modern necessity but have a huge capacity to capture the minds of the consumer.

33% of consumers that were surveyed by ASI said that they own a power bank. A power bank is estimated to generate 900 impressions over its lifetime (approx. 12 months.) So, a $10 dollar power bank will have a CPI of $1.

The difference between the CPI of a pen and that of a power bank is astounding with the pen providing far better value. However, whilst the number of impressions is important, the type of impression is another significant factor. It depends on your brand’s strategy, image, and client base. We have seen a change in our client’s buying habits, even with the same budget the quantity of products has gone down and the value of the gift has gone up.

If you want to find out about the CPI of many other popular promotional products, you can download the full breakdown by ASI here.


The trend towards sustainability in the branded merchandise industry is growing year-on-year, with Europe leading the way. A large majority of Jack Nadel International's clients, many of which are FTSE 500 companies, now demand sustainable and eco-friendly products for their entire global branded collections.

In addition, ASI found that 57% of consumers who own promotional products report that they kept some products for over 5 years. Clearly, there is a demand for sustainable, quality that can withstand the test of time. AT JNI, that’s a vision we can believe in.

Research provided by the Advertising Specialty Institute, ©2020, All Rights Reserved.

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