PPAI Sales Volume Study Reveals Gradual 2010 Market Upturn


Kim R. Todora

PPAI Sales Volume Study Reveals Gradual 2010 Market Upturn

Promotional Products Industry On Pace with 2010 Advertising Expenditures
Promotional Products Market Grew 5.89 Percent; Distributor Sales Exceeded $16.5 Billion

IRVING, Tex., (May 24, 2011) – Promotional Products Association International (PPAI; ppai.org), the not-for-profit association for more than 8,500 members of the $16.5 billion promotional products industry, released the results of its annual sales volume study reflecting an increase of 5.89 percent in distributor revenues over 2009. This increase puts the promotional product industry’s revenues at $16,560,162,075, up from $15,638,571,468 in 2009. The increase, in conjunction with favorable legislative action, trending market conditions, including signs of continued growth in the first quarter of 2011, lead experts to express cautious optimism for 2011.

“Some market indicators are pointing toward an economic recovery, albeit slowly, for our nation and the promotional products industry as well. The growth is largely due to the smart business practices of distributors, suppliers, and end buyers that have set in motion our industry’s recovery,” said Steve Slagle, CAE, PPAI president and CEO. “However, the path forward is a challenged one. To take full advantage of the momentum we have in early 2011, it is essential that we all continue to tell the compelling reasons why our medium is the most powerful and effective choice of savvy marketers. Our research provides many clues about the superiority of promotional products in creating brand awareness and good will, as well as communicating important and often life-saving information.”  
Overall advertising expenditures were up 6.5 percent. Spending on promotional products was right up there with the overall ad spending at 5.89 percent.  Distributors are optimistic about the prospects of 2011 with two-thirds of survey respondents expressing confidence in an even better year.

“It seems to me the industry hit the trifecta last year: low inventories, fewer job layoffs and customers willing to spend money. The majority of distributors did pretty well as a result and industry sales performance matched the all media average,” said Rick Ebel, principal at Glenrich Business Studies in Corvallis, Oregon. “Even more encouraging is what we hear about this year’s first quarter business. Still there are a lot of “what ifs.” I think distributors are quietly confident rather than ebullient and their optimism is tempered by uncertainty.”

PPAI’s annual distributor sales study is the most comprehensive of its kind in the industry and is conducted by independent researchers based on actual sales reported by promotional consultant companies. PPAI has researched and released industry sales data since 1965. Its figures are considered the most definitive and unbiased in the industry, employing time-tested research methodology and utilizing an objective outside source to conduct the research and compile the statistics. The margin of the error for the survey was +/- 2 percent at the 95 percent confidence level. The methodology includes a combination of census and a sampling of industry distributors.

About PPAI
PPAI – the promotional products industry’s only international not-for-profit trade association – offers education, tradeshows, business products and services, mentoring, technology and legislative support to its more than 8,500 global members. Promotional products are a multi-billion dollar industry and include wearables, writing instruments, calendars, drinkware and many other items, usually imprinted with a company’s name, logo or message. PPAI created and maintains the UPIC (Universal Promotional Identification Code), the industry’s only free identification system and universal company database. For information regarding Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) or to learn more about the proven power of promotional products (including research and case studies), visit the PPAI website at www.ppai.org or contact PPAI at 888.426.7724.

Editor’s note: full study and graphics available upon request.

Table 4: Assessment of Expenditures for Selected Media and Methods (In Billions)






Percent of Change

Direct Mail








Newspaper (print only)




Cable TV




Internet Advertising




Consumer Magazines




Radio Advertising




Promotional Products




Yellow Pages




Event (sponsorship) Marketing




Business Magazines




Out-of-Home (billboards)




Product Placement (films, TV)




Mobile (phone) Advertising




Expenditures for selected advertising media and promotion methods were compiled for Promotional Products Association International by Richard Alan Nelson, PhD, Louisiana State University, and Rick Ebel, Glenrich Business Studies. Sources include American Business Media/Business Information Network, BIA/Kelsey, Direct Marketing Association, Cable TV Advertising Bureau, Interactive Advertising Association, Kantar Media Intelligence, Newspaper Association of America, Outdoor Advertising Association of America, PQ Media, Publishers Information Bureau, Radio Advertising Bureau, Television Advertising Bureau, and Yellow Pages Association.

How the Numbers Were Compiled

To compile the 2010 Estimate of U.S. Distributors’ Promotional Products Sales, researchers mailed a survey to a large sample of the entire U.S. distributor universe, including both PPAI members and non-members. The 12,500-firm sample was drawn from a merge/purge of lists compiled from PPAI and UPIC (Universal Promotional Identification Code) databases and from two other industry organizations.

Companies were divided into two sales-volume groups—those with sales of $2.5 million or more and those billing less than that. Because some distributors have such a large volume of business, omission of any one of them could distort the statistics. Therefore, in addition to the smaller-firm sample, a census was taken of all $2.5 million-plus distributors. Combining the sample with the census resulted in 15,500 companies being surveyed.

Questionnaires were mailed twice to firms in the sample/census, and this distribution was reinforced with weekly e-mail reminders. By completing and returning their questionnaires, respondents became eligible for a drawing to win prizes. Completed replies collected by mail, fax, Internet and phone produced 2,152 usable responses for a 13.9 percent response rate. The margin of error of +/- 2% at the 95 percent confidence level is well within standard statistical norms.




Send Us An E-mail

You will receive a copy of this e-mail