Close this search box.

Swag for Marketing: How Swag Can Skyrocket Your Brand [2024]

By Liza Shuttleworth Last updated: 16 minute read Branding, Content & CreativeMarketing Guides

Swag is a great choice for high-impact and low-cost promotion that can be used as a stand-alone strategy or to support all your sales channels.

Either way, it provides great ROI and will boost brand awareness and recognition, increase engagement with your brand and drive increased sales.

Swag can improve your brand reputation and strengthen your corporate identity. It can also help you move prospects down the sales funnel and improve relationships with your customers.

You can even use swag for advocacy, customer loyalty, and referral programs. It really is incredibly versatile and effective – all for a very low initial investment, that continues to yield results long after you have handed it out!  

So, how do you use swag effectively in your marketing? How do you generate quality leads and maximize the benefits of all your other advertising channels?

In this guide, we’re covering what swag is, how it will benefit your market outreach, how to use swag for lead generation, and how to integrate swag into your other advertising channels!

Let’s jump right in!

Skip to What You Need

    read more

    What is Swag?

    Swag is the branded promotional merchandise that brands use to promote their business and their brand. Swag is usually given away as ‘freebies’ to the public, leads, customers, and employees.

    Swag is a great promotion tool that stands out from other sales promotion techniques in that is tangible, tactile, and useful to the recipient.

    The way people engage with swag is very different from the way they engage with other forms of advertising. It is appreciated and many consumers will actively seek it out!  

    The most common and popular examples of this promotion are t-shirts, pens and notebooks, drinkware, USB sticks, tote bags, and swag packs. Swag packs are packaged bags or boxes of branded goodies that come in an attractive package.

    The graph below shows common types of promotional products and the percentage of people who own one:

    Percentage of People Who Own a Promotional Product (ASI: 2019)

    We’ve all received some swag at some point, and most of us still use it regularly. According to Sage, 80% of consumers have at least one promotional product, 53% use a promotional product at least once a week and 60% keep their promotional products for up to two years!

    So, what are the benefits of swag for your marketing? Let’s take a look:

    How Swag Can Benefit Your Marketing

    Swag is used to promote the brand or business, specific product lines or services, and events.

    Swag creates or reinforces corporate identity, increases brand awareness and recognition, garners many impressions, and is usually much cheaper than paid print or online advertising.  

    Swag is also used to gain new leads, nurture existing leads and drive sales. It can even be used to gather information for your customer database by asking people to fill out a form to receive their swag.

    The Advertising Specialty Institute (ASI) 2019 Global Ad Impressions Study found that promotional products are the most cost-effective and high-impact tool available for their clients.

    When they worked out the cost per impression (CPI) for swag in comparison to print and digital ads, swag consistently earned a greater ROI!

    It might sound too simple and too good to be true, but the numbers back it up. Here are some statistics to highlight the benefits of using promotional swag in your branding:

    10 Marketing Swag Statistics:

    • 99% of people say that they’re willing to go out of their way to get a promotional product
    • 60% of consumers keep a promotional product for two years
    • 53% of people use a promotional product at least once a week
    • 85% of product recipients did business with the advertiser who gave them the item
    • 72% of consumers say the quality of a promotional item impacts brand reputation
    • 60% of people say that they would enter sweepstakes, contests, or raffles to win promotional products
    • 60% or more recipients of promotional products will look the brand up online later
    • 70% of consumers say that promotional products make their experiences more memorable
    • 44% increase in effectiveness when a swag product is added to a social media advert
    • 59% of employees who receive swag from their employer have a more favorable impression of their workplace afterward
    Marketing Swag - Image text says "promotional products are the most high-impact, cost-effective advertising medium for our clients" - SAI Global Ad Impressions Study 2019

    Swag is also multifunctional and versatile. You can use for the public, or you can use it for your customers and give it away for customer appreciation to increase customer loyalty.

    You can also use it internally, for your employees. Swag is a great way to improve employee experience, onboard new talent, or reward great performance.

    Swag will always give something back to you, be it impressions when they use it, a referral based on their recall of your brand, or even just a visit to your website or social media channels.

    So, as you can see, swag will really benefit your market outreach!

    That said, most promotional efforts are focused on acquiring new leads so let’s look at how you can use swag to generate leads:

    How Companies Use Swag to Get More Leads

    In the simplest terms, lead generation is all about finding the right target audience, making contact and connecting with them, and building a relationship with them.

    Swag is a great way to make that first contact a positive, engaged, and memorable experience for your lead.

    If you’re using swag to generate leads, make sure you’re giving it to the right people. Do your research, perfect your buyer persona and then tailor your swag products to meet their needs and appeal to their image and values.

    Once you have done that, you have a relevantattractive, and useful offering for them. From there, you need to reach them and make those connections, so that you can develop those relationships and convert leads to customers.

    So, how have other companies used swag for promotion to successfully generate leads?

    Let’s take a look at some examples:

    Google: Pop-Up Donut Shops to Promote the Launch of the Google Home Mini

    In 2017, Google released it’s smaller smart speaker, the Google Home Mini. To generate awareness of the product and get people excited about it, they set up little donut pop-up shops in different cities.

    People could go in, ask the smart speaker a question and then receive a mystery box that either contained donuts or a Google Home Mini!

    Marketing Swag - Instagram screenshot of a pic of one of Google's donut pop-up shops

    The packaging was branded, as was the shop, and they included a counter to do an ‘unboxing’, which almost always ended up on social media!

    This campaign was a brilliant way to get people to actively engage with the product, and receive a reward for doing so. It also encouraged social proof and gained a lot of social media reach.

    They gained new sales, exposure, reach, engagement and created excitement and buzz for their product.

    Glossier: Swag for Influencers

    Beauty brand Glossier gave out branded sweatshirts to micro-influencers, which were posted with the #glossierpink. They often gave the influencers a discount code to give their followers – a win-win for everyone.

    Marketing Swag - Image from Instagram of an influencer in a pink glossier sweatshirt

    The influencer gets an attractive offer for their followers, followers get a small discount and the brand gets the influencer’s social clout, as well as their reach.

    This method is particularly useful for use with smaller influencers who are still happy to post for swag and free product’s, rather than requiring payment as well.

    Ford: Swag and Toy Car Giveaways at Auto Shows

    Every year at the Chicago Auto Show, Ford runs custom swag giveaways that include collectable cars for kids. They limited the number of cars and only give them away at specific times, making them scarce and adding a sense of urgency.

    Marketing Swag - Ford swag from a car show, including a boxed toy car, caps and beanies

    People have fun hurrying to find the Ford stand to get their hands on the swag, and it brings kids (future Ford drivers) into the mix too. Gamifying the giveaways like this makes it a whole experience, rather than just a free gift.

    Ford sells branded clothing and accessories, so their swag already has a sense of being valuable and getting it for free is even more special. Bonus for Ford: they can use their stock (and lines that aren’t moving) as swag, without any additional investment.

    Wholefoods: Beauty Box Giveaways on Social Media

    Wholefoods curated a boxes of ‘beauty essentials’ from their product line and used a social media giveaway to promote their upcoming beauty sale. They made the contest easy to enter and included products that can be bought from their stores.

    Marketing Swag - Wholefoods giveaways on social media

    They limited the number of boxes and used them to generate buzz on social media, which increased the reach of their market outreach for the sale. The contest also got loads to people to engage with their brand and to covet the products being promoted. A sure way to get more people interested in buying for the first time!

    7 Things You Can Do to Use Swag in Your Marketing

    1. Add Marketing Swag to Your Social Media Marketing

    Add swag to your online outreach and use it to attract leads to your website and social media. Paid social media adverts are 44% more effective when they involve swag.

    People also love social media giveaways and contests, which can increase your online reach and engagement, while offering a way to get your swag into the right hands.

    Marketing Swag - Screenshot from Instagram of a swag giveaway post by SoilFlo. The swag is branded apparel.

    You can direct people to your website and have them sign up for their prize, or leave their contact information so you can send it to them.

    Contests like this are especially great, because you only have to give products away to the finalists, and not everyone who enters, but you still get every participant’s information, and their engagement on social media. 

    2. Swag for Brand Ambassadors and Influencers

    Using brand ambassadors and social media influences to reach huge numbers of your target audience is a highly effective way to increase brand awareness and recognition. They’re also a great way to garner new leads!

    Great branded swag that is high quality, attractive, and desirable is one way to get your products in front of the right people, with a stamp of approval from the person they all look up to.

    You use swag as part of your paid campaign, as a free gift in the hopes of it being featured, or as a thank you gift to show your appreciation. 

    3. Swag for Qualified Leads at Events and Conferences

    Events and conferences are great for lead generation because participants are already people interested in your niche. That’s why they’re there, after all.

    You can use swag to draw out the warmer leads and connect with the ones who will be most likely to buy from you by offering swag as an incentive to participate in a survey or demo.

    That way, you’re already personally engaging with them and you can gather information to use for personalized interactions down the line too.  

    Check out this video by Event MB for more on how to curate a great swag bag for conferences and events:

    4. Use Swag for Meaningful Outreach

    Use swag to connect with the prospects you would normally reach out to individually, by email, phone, or in person.

    Adding some great swag to that first contact makes the first impression positive, and more memorable for them.

    This is especially useful for B2B outreach, where you’re connecting with a specific, known person at the company.

    Personalize your swag for them and give them something they will really value and that will resonate with them.

    If they’re into golf, give them items that they will use, such as a golf shirt, cap and pen. You can even add their name or initials if you want to make it really personal.

    5. Improve Employee Experience with Swag

    When we think of promotional items, we often think of external, sales-driven marketing. However, internal advertising is something you can’t overlook.

    Improving employee experience by making your employees feel seen, valued, and appreciated is a surefire way to retain great employees and attract top talent.

    You can use swag to show appreciation to your staff, welcome recruits, or foster unity and reinforce company values.

    Marketing Swag - Screenshot from instagram of a work from home swag kit by Percolate

    What a company does for its employees is becoming a huge factor in the company’s reputation and the reputation of its brand. Online communities and connections have created a space where employees are seen and heard by their peers, and by the general public.

    When employees are happy and feel a sense of belonging and loyalty to the company, they provide better service to customers and advocate more for their company online and in person.

    6. Gamify Your Loyalty and Referral Marketing Programs with Swag

    Swag works really well as a reward for any activity that sends you new leads directly or publicly endorses your brand.

    If you have a referral program or a customer loyalty program, you can use swag to gamify the process and encourage participation.

    You can create tiered rewards that encourage people to do more to ‘win’ a better prize. This can be a really effective way to boost engagement with your programs and improve the effectiveness of the program.

    Give swag to customers who refer a friend, leave reviews, or follow you on social media. You can also give them swag and ask them to share a picture of it on social media, with a unique hashtag.

    Most people are more than happy to share a positive experience and something that made them feel special! This generates valuable social proof for your brand and improves your chances of gaining new leads.   

    7. Use Swag to Build Your Brand Identity and Be Your Physical Presence

    Swag has a physical presence that few other advertising methods have. You can use this to your advantage when you’re developing your brand identity.

    The types of products you use for your swag, who they will appeal to, and how you brand or present them will add a sense of who you are and what you’re all about.

    Saas company Salesforce does a great job of this with their animated characters, plush toys and stickers. Their #wheresastro campaign is especially successful:

    Marketing Swag - Salesforce character plush toys and stickers

    Keep your swag in line with your core values, and congruent with the rest of your advertising. What do you want your swag to say about you?

    The image portrayed by your swag, be it playful and quirky or more serious and business-like, will be an extension of your brand promotion. A piece of your corporate identity that people will see in real life, and interact with.

    Swag is a great way to create a presence for your brand, in a very tangible and physical way. This is especially useful for online businesses that do not have a physical, brick-and-mortar presence.

    Swag gives people a way to ‘feel’ your company, in a physical way. This is why it is so important to choose the right swag for your brand!  

    Tips to Choose the Best Swag for Your Brand

    Choosing the right swag will yield great marketing ROI. Choosing the wrong swag, on the other hand, can reduce the effectiveness of your marketing, or even damage your brand’s image!

    To choose the best swag, consider the following:   

    • Good Quality – choose items that are good quality and will last a long time. The quality will be associated with your brand, and the items’ longevity will give you more impressions from every item.
    • Attractiveness – choose items that are visually appealing and congruent with your brand identity. The more attractive and desirable an item is, the more likely it is to be enjoyed and used by the recipient.
    • Uniqueness – there are a LOT of promotional products in circulation. Make yours stand out by doing something unique and interesting. Keep your logo clearly displayed, but choose interesting, quirky, or unique designs to set your swag apart.
    • Frequent Use – choose items that can be used often, especially ones that will be used at work or in public. These items will be seen by more people when they’re in use.
    • Relevance – opt for items that are relevant to your business and your customers. If you’re a beauty brand, a branded multi-tool might not make sense for you.
    • Identifiable – no matter what items you choose, make sure they’re clearly branded and easily recognizable as swag for your brand. If your swag isn’t well branded, your marketing stops with the initial recipient and you lose all the impressions your swag could get while they use it. Worse, if it is not branded, you could be confused with your competitors and inadvertently marketing for them!

    The right marketing swag will be a walking endorsement of your brand and portray your brand in the best possible light!

    It will augment and strengthen all your other marketing efforts, generate new leads, break into new markets and improve your sales.

    Marketing swag can also help you retain customers and increase customer loyalty. It can help you improve employee experience and your company’s reputation with prospective employees.  

    Wrapping Up

    Marketing swag is a versatile and highly effective marketing technique. It can be used as a stand-alone campaign or as part of any of your other marketing strategies.

    Adding swag to marketing can increase your reach and engagement in a meaningful way to boost brand awareness, brand recognition and reinforce your corporate identity.

    Swag can draw in new leads and help you nurture them at every point of your sales funnel to increase your sales and revenue.

    Best of all, it is an inexpensive method, that gives and gives, long after the initial investment!

    In this guide we have covered all the basics to get you going – how will you use swag to skyrocket your marketing?


    Advertising Specialty Institute: Global Ad Impressions Study (2020)

    Advertising Specialty Institute: Global Ad Impressions Study (2019)

    Brandon Gaille: 36 Promotional Products Industry Statistics, Trends & Analysis

    Element Three: 5 Ways Company Swag Boosts Company Culture

    Promotional Products Association International: 2019 Consumer Research Study (Infographic)

    Quality Logo Products Blog:  50 Crazy Stats and Facts About the Promotional Products Industry

    Sage: Let the Facts Do the Talking: 25 Stats About Promotional Products

    Sage: 25 Insane (…but true!) Facts About Promotional Products

    Frequently Asked Questions

    What is swag promotion?

    Swag promotion is the use of branded promotional products that are given to the public, leads, customers, and even employees. Marketing swag or company swag consists of desirable consumer goods that are uniquely branded to represent the company. Popular examples of swag include outer-wear apparel, mugs/travel cups, pens, notepads, USB sticks, and tote bags. Check out the full guide for more on how to use swag in your marketing.

    What kind of swag do people want?

    The most popular swag products in 2024 are outer apparel like shirts and sweatshirts, tote bags, notebooks and pens, drinkware, and electronics like USB sticks. The best swag to choose for your business is swag that is congruent with your brand identity, appeals to your target audience, and is high-quality. Check out the full guide for more on how to use swag in your marketing.

    How do I order swag for my business?

    Many businesses make customized swag products. Choose ones that offer good quality products that are made to last and that can add your custom branding to your products. There are loads of companies to choose from but some popular options are Zazzle, Allied Shirts, Café Press, and Red Bubble. Check out the full guide for more on how to use swag in your marketing.