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The Hidden Psychology that Powers Promotional Products Success

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The Hidden Psychology that Powers Promotional Products Success

Ever wonder why that promotional pen you received gives you the uncanny ability to remember a brand’s name better than that million-dollar advertisement? The secret lies in the psychology that powers promotional merchandise.

Come with us on this journey as we pair psychology and marketing, and learn why people love receiving promotional goods.

Fundamentals of Psychology in Marketing

The human brain is incredibly sophisticated and at the same time incredibly simple, cutting corners when it really shouldn’t be. It’s part of the reason why marketing is so effective in the first place!

Daniel Kahneman gives a good explanation of this in his book “Thinking Fast and Slow” dividing the way we make decisions into two systems. System 1 (fast thinking) and System 2 (slow thinking).

The old saying “People buy with emotion and then justify with logic” seems to be pretty accurate. Using our system 1 to make the decision and then justifying with system 2. For example:

Fame – if a brand comes to mind, it’s a better choice
Fluency – if a particular brand is recognisable it’s a better choice
Feeling – if you have a positive feeling towards a brand it’s a good choice

Key Psychological Principles That Relate To Promotional Products

The Reciprocity Principle

If you give someone something for free they’ll feel an obligation to “return the favor”.

Often in terms of business, this means they’ll consider purchasing your product or be open to having a discussion with your sales team.

When giving away your promotional products think of what action you would like the recipient to take.

The Scarcity Principle

We’ve all seen it in action – that magnetic draw to grab the last product on the shelf, or the allure of limited edition items. Toilet paper during COVID anyone?

This is the Scarcity Principle at work, and it’s an impactful tool in the promotional merchandise sphere. Because merchandise is made custom and in limited quantities, it leverages the fear of missing out (FOMO) factor.

The perception of scarcity can create a sense of urgency and exclusivity, making your promotional merchandise feel more valuable and enticing to recipients.

The Endowment Effect

This effect describes the phenomenon where individuals value an item more highly simply because they own it.

In the realm of promotional merchandise, this can be a powerful ally. When a customer receives a promotional item, even a simple one like a pen, it becomes “theirs”.

That pen is now not just any pen—it’s their pen and they now own a little piece of your brand.

This can lead to an increased emotional connection and reinforce positive sentiments. Because why would they own something they don’t like? (Cognitive dissonance)

The Anchoring Effect

When it comes to making decisions, the first piece of information we encounter often becomes our “anchor”. The point of reference against further information we receive.

In other words, first impressions matter!

For many a promotional product will be the first interaction with your brand. So make it positive and make it count.

This also highlights the importance of investing in better-quality products. Don’t be the brand that gave them that “cheap pen that doesn’t even work”!

Tangible Evidence

Promotional products are physical products you can touch, feel and see.

They are harder to forget and overlook than intangible objects like that advert on social media you’ve scrolled past 3 times already.

Social Proof

This is the concept that people tend to follow the herd and use the recommendation of others as credibility when making decisions. That’s why reviews and testimonials are so powerful.

Seeing others using/wearing promotional merchandise makes us subconsciously trust that brand more. Because if others are happy to associate with the brand it must be trustworthy!

The Power Of Free (Zero Price Effect)

The word “free” triggers an irresistible allure, creating what’s called the Zero Price Effect.

When customers receive free promotional items, they perceive more value, associating your brand with positive feelings and often responding reciprocally.

So, your free giveaways are more than gifts—they’re strategic tools that utilize the Zero Price Effect to enhance customer relationships and stimulate demand.

Summing Up

In a landscape more competitive than ever, having promotional merchandise in your corner can be one piece of the puzzle in standing out from your competitors and becoming the number one choice.

Here is a recap of the psychological principles related to promotional products:

The reciprocity principle
The scarcity principle
The endowment effect
The anchoring effect
Tangible evidence
Social proof
The power of free
Now you understand a little bit more about what makes promotional products work it’s time to add your logo and get them into the right hands ASAP. Browse the range or send us your brief and we can offer tailored suggestions to your organization. Click the link below to get started.

What Brands Can Learn From Influencers When It Comes To Merch

Merchandise is a big revenue source for many influencers so it’s no surprise they have the merch game down to a science.

And while your goal might not be to generate revenue the outcome should be the same.

Someone receiving cool gear that they want to use and show off!

So what can all brands learn from influencers when it comes to merchandise?

Aesthetics matter

Good-looking merchandise gets used (and sold) more.

That’s why influencers will invest in hiring designers or collaborating with fashion brands to create merch that not only looks good but resonate with their brand.

They use messaging and design that speaks directly with their audience like in-jokes, uplifting messaging, and art styles.

Next time you go to make a promotional product, ask yourself how you can bring the design to the next level while still remaining on brand.

Understand your audience

If there’s one thing influencers understand it’s their personal brand.

And because money is on the line it’s important they are confident the merch they put out is going to be loved by their audience.

So what’s one of the best ways to know what people want? Ask.

It’s simple, but the act of asking helps to build anticipation and give the community a voice.

They also understand the process of tying merchandise back to their brand.

For example “Yes Theory” released a merch sub-brand “Seek Discomfort” which promotes values like positivity, bravery, and self-confidence. The same kind of values their community watches their Youtube videos for.

Leverage exclusivity and scarcity

Merch drops are commonplace in the influencer world.

(A merch drop is simply a limited release of merchandise that’s brought out at a certain time.)

They’re common because they work and are an example of the power of exclusivity, scarcity, and anticipation.

While merch drops will not be suited to all brands they offer ideas that will help to spark ideas and interest;

Use social media to build anticipation and announce the availability of products ahead of time
Highlight the fear of missing out e.g. “The first 50 people to visit our booth and sign up for a trial will receive a branded gift, get in early or miss out.”
Limited edition runs will elevate the product value
Use social proof (other people using the products or saying good things) to increase value perception and FOMO
Treat promotional merch like a product you are wanting to sell. Make it so good people will want to pay for it.

Breaking it down

Influencers can teach us a lot about merch and building a community.

While the goals of a brand will differ between an influencer and a company the principles will remain the same.

It’s worthwhile to check out some big influencers to influence (yes I know) your branded merchandise strategy.

We also have a team of branded merchandise connoisseurs who will gladly help you elevate your promotional merchandise to the next level. Get in touch today or view our range to get started!

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