To Swag, or Not to Swag – Our TOP 5 Favorite Swag Themes

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To Swag, or Not to Swag, that is the question. 

Everyone loves free stuff, right? Well… not always. Let’s talk about the highly anticipated swag bag and our TOP 5 Favorite Swag Themes along with some helpful tips to engage your guests and keep your brand top-of-mind long after your event.

Sometimes a poorly thought out swag bag can result in negative feedback and perception of your brand. If someone were to ask you, what is the best piece of swag you have ever received? Would it be a charging power block? Maybe a travel water bottle or a favorite reusable tote? Perhaps it was a premium product like a brand name messenger bag for your tablet, or maybe even the tablet itself?  What was it that made you like this product and continue to use it after the event? Chances are that it was a useful item of good quality. 

Not all swag is created equal. These coveted swag items, whether they are everyday gadgets or premium items can be few and far between, but what they have in common and what makes them great swag, is that they met the need of the user and were able to stand the test of time. 

So, why should you care if the guests like your swag, or if it lasts more than a few months?

Did You Know?

  • 25% of people report having more positive impressions of companies after receiving their promotional products via swag bags.  [1]
  • 88% of people remember the advertiser on a promotional product.  [2]
  • Before receiving a promotional product, 55% of people had done business with the advertiser. After receiving a promotional product, 85% of people did business with the advertiser.  [4]

As we know, there will always be someone who doesn’t want or need the swag at an event and it’s very likely it will be passed on to their coworkers or friends. However, think about this as free advertising, (well maybe not free), but bonus advertising! This intentional marketing effort is at the top of the list in generating repeat business and word of mouth referrals.

Did You Know?

  • 67% of people pass promotional products on to someone else, providing further exposure.  [1]
  • 50% of people report daily use of the promotional products they have accumulated from swag bags.  [3]

When selecting swag for your event, the options can be endless. Know your audience. What products are going to be useful and provide value while hyping your brand? Whether you are hosting c-suite level executives or a group of employees; or advertising to your existing clients or potential clients, the goal is the same: to create a positive and lasting response to your brand.  

Align your brand with quality products on the market that exemplify your company values. (i.e. eco-friendly and reusable items) Evaluate these objectives: What is the intent of this swag? What is the perceived value to the recipient? Is the ROI worth the spend? 

Budgeting for a high-quality swag item is going to be worth your time! People might not keep your product forever, but they will definitely remember if the water bottle breaks after a week or if that cool backpack strap starts to unravel within a month. All of a sudden, your continued ROI and word of mouth advertising has taken a negative turn.

Did you know?

  • Consumers report holding onto promotional products for an average of 6.6 months and 6 out of 10 people report keeping promotional products for up to 2 years.  [3]
  • Promotional products delivered a better return on investment (ROI) than radio and outdoor advertising. Swag delivered ROI equal to TV advertising.  [2]

Promotional products and swag also provide a great opportunity for brands to get creative and show off their personality. Adding a fun catchphrase or inspiration message can help to “humanize” your brand and create a relatable moment for people to engage in.

Did you know?

  • 83% of Americans report that they like to receive promotional products with advertising messages on them.  [1]
  • 56% said their impression of a company improved after receiving a branded promotional gift.  [4]
  • Following a live experience, 38% of attendees visit the company’s website, 32% purchase its products or services and 30% use or wear an item with the brand’s logo on it, such as a t-shirt or pen.  [5]


Our TOP 5 Favorite Swag Themes 

1. Office Supply & Tech Gadgets 

Sometimes the tried and true classics are the perfect fit for your swag needs. These everyday gadgets are extremely useful and can easily be lost or misplaced. People love receiving these because you can always benefit from an extra power cord, charger or earbuds. Take it to the next level with a Bluetooth speaker, a two-way GPS tracker for your keys, or a VR Viewer.

From Top Left (Clockwise):
  • Two-Way GPS tracker
  • Smart Socket
  • 5 in 1 Charging Cord
  • Webcam Cover
  • VR Viewer
  • Wireless Charging Pad
  • Extra Earbuds Clip
  • Journal & Pens
  • Book of Post-its
  • Bluetooth Speaker




2. Fitness, Wellness, On the Go!

Stay on pace with your busy clients and customers by giving them useful items to help get them through the day. Encourage wellness amongst your employees and clients and draw awareness to the important initiatives that align with your company culture! Stock your next conference Swag Bag with items like energy-boosting snacks, water bottles to encourage hydration and a custom yoga mat for that afternoon pick-me-up break out session!

From Top Left (Clockwise):
  • Yoga Mat w/ Carrying Bag
  • goop “Why Am I So Effing Tired?” Energy Vitamin Pack
  • Yeti Rambler
  • Reusable Travel Tote
  • Clif Bars
  • Tempo CBD Shots
  • Tote w/ Umbrella Storage Combo
  • Mini Neck Massager
  • Eos Lip Balm
  • Cooling Towel
  • Insulated Water Bottle



3. Eco-Friendly & Digital

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle! Make the environmentally responsible decision and select items that promote sustainability, recycling and reduced waste with eco-friendly products. Support these values with items like reusable totes, food storage containers, and bamboo straws. Take this one step further and consider sponsoring a service vs. a product, such as vouchers to a restaurant, a brewery tour, or museum admission. Reduce the number of paper products by going digital with a QR code to an iTunes gift card, or share a gift link to a downloadable voucher to Starbucks or free movie on Amazon.

From Top Left (Clockwise):
  • Reusable/Washable Sandwich Bag
  • Bamboo Food Storage
  • Mini Egg Carton Herb Starter
  • QR Code Voucher
  • Recycled Notepads
  • Bamboo Pens
  • Mini Herb Garden
  • Gift Cards
  • Beeswax Food Wrappers
  • Bamboo Straw Kit
  • 100% Compostable & Reusable Totes
  • Downloadable Gift Cards


4. Apparel, Sports & Fun!

Wearables, at 34%, continue to be the top category in sales for promotional products by far. [1] Next time, skip the standard t-shirt and think outside the box by adding a fun phrase to a trending product like a hoodie, fanny pack or custom socks. You can even brand sneakers for your event for an extra special premium gift! Think about choosing a clear stadium tote and smart gloves for that next sporting event, or custom playing cards for your next CSR casino night. Want to wow the masses? Give your guests a one of a kind item with custom bobble-heads. These fun products provide a great opportunity to let your brand personality and creativity shine.

From Top Left (Clockwise):
  • Golf Bag Cooler
  • Custom Socks
  • Stocking Cap
  • Clear Stadium Tote
  • Playing Cards
  • Custom Bobble-Head
  • Custom Sneakers
  • Fanny Packs
  • Touch Screen Gloves
  • Foldable Sports Bottle
  • Custom Stickers
  • Unisex Hoodie



5. Event Specific “Care-Packages”

Sometimes the event calls for a very specific type of swag. Whether prepping a group to travel abroad or on a company retreat, put your swag to good use by creating a  “care package” of curated event essentials to make the guests experience more enjoyable.

Outdoor Retreat Essentials: Pro Tip – Build up the excitement and drop a pre-event care package in the mail for retreat attendees! 

From Top Left (Clockwise):
  • Travel Bluetooth Speaker
  • Waterproof Phone Pouch
  • Convertible Poncho/Picnic Blanket
  • Multi-use Hand Warmers
  • Mini Flashlight
  • Picnic Blanket
  • First Aid Kit
  • Travel Sunscreen
  • Water Bottle Belt
  • Leatherman Multi-Use Tool
  • Compass Survival Bracelet



Kids’ Activity Bags: Pro Tip – Keep the younger ones entertained during long wait times or programs.

From Top Left (Clockwise):
  • Sunglasses
  • Frisbee
  • Tie-Dye Apparel
  • Puzzles
  • Yo-Yo
  • Cinch Backpack
  • Activity Books
  • Slinky
  • Hand Clappers
  • Coloring Utensil Sets
  • Rubik’s Cube
  • Flavored Chapstick



Travel Abroad Essentials: Pro Tip – Prep guests with curated travel essentials for a smooth trip! 

From Top Left (Clockwise):
  • Multi Charging Kit
  • S.S. Whiskey Rocks
  • Hand Sanitizer Clip
  • Timbuk2 Tuck Pack
  • All in 1 Travel Adapter
  • Flight Comfort Kit
  • Sleep Mask/Earplugs
  • Cocktail Kit
  • Custom Toiletry Dopp Kit
  • Aluminum Luggage Tags
  • Travel Zip Pouch
  • Branded Luggage Straps



Next Steps!

Now that you have a feel for what type of swag is appropriate for your event and how it can be a useful marketing tool, let’s take a look at the next steps! 

Determine a budget and per-person cost. – It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the magnitude of options available, from budget, to standard, to premium. Your planner can help direct you in aligning your budget with your overall goals. Per-person budgets can range anywhere from $5 – $100 per person and easily top $400 per person in the premium category. When it comes to brand awareness, it’s hard to put a price tag on success. 

Select your products! – Brainstorm with your planner, (we’re happy to oblige), to provide insight into usability and statistics of trending products in your industry to help select purposeful and meaningful event swag. Start by defining your objectives. – Are you providing sponsor information in a one-sheet highlighting a product or service? Are you offering themed swag that is relevant for a particular event? Are you providing a premium gift as a “Thank You” to employees or clients, or are you simply increasing marketing efforts by custom branding fun and useful products in the hopes that the guests will remember your brand after the event is over? 

Give yourself enough time! – Gather the necessary brand logos and colors, or have a designer create a custom event logo to showcase the “personality” and message of your event. As planners, we know that diligent vendor research and product analysis is the key to finding the best value and “bang for your buck” with the multitude of promotional product retailers out there. 

Order samples! – Give yourself some peace of mind knowing that the product is of the right quality to represent your brand before you commit to ordering 500 of that special tote bag.  

The next time the opportunity arises for you “To Swag, or Not to Swag” at your event, remember these two things.  One – Your swag is a physical extension of marketing your brand and company values. Two – The level of thought you apply to your swag directly correlates to the guests’ perception of your brand. As you make selections, remember that your swag will continue to do the work behind the scenes, so it’s important to choose the right “ambassador” to deliver that message and generate an increased response, repeat customers, and a higher rate of referrals. 

Links to Referenced Statistics:

Links to Swag Examples: