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Archive for the ‘Promotional Products’ Category

Custom Printing: Increase Your ROI with Tchotchkes

Monday, October 31st, 2022

Photo purchased from …

When I was a baby, my father spoke to me in French, Yiddish, and German, as well as our native-born English. Perhaps that is why I have always been intrigued by words. So when I first heard the word tshatshke (Yiddish) or tchotchke (Slavic, as per Google), it piqued my interest. The word means (among other things) “trinket.”

Over the years, the word tchotchke has been appropriated by the promotional-item custom printing market. In this context it refers to everything from branded cups and mugs to clothing such as caps, to branded pens, to the fold-up fabric chairs that come in canvas carrying bags. As diverse as these may be, they all share one attribute. They all include a company’s logo, corporate color scheme (usually), and tagline.

Why are these so popular? Why do marketers adore these items?

More Bang for the Buck

Promotional items are useful. Therefore, when they are handed out for free (at a convention, for instance), the recipients usually use them for a long time. So when you take the starting point (the cost of the entire printing run of perhaps $2,000 for 10,000 ballpoint pens) and divide the overall cost by the press run, each pen costs $.20.

But when you consider that a potential client who likes the heft and writing style of this pen uses it for a year (or, as research shows, even up to four years according to Industry Today as well as Robert at and sees the branded corporate colors and logo 1,000 times in that year, then the cost per impression (each time the potential client sees the marketing message) is $.0002. (These are entirely fictitious numbers, but you get the point—you get more bang for the buck.)

Moreover, this is addressed in popular marketing theory regarding how people become aware of a new company. Apparently it takes five to seven exposures to a new brand to ensure “recognition” and “conversion” (buying something, asking for more information, leaving your email address online, etc.) in the mind of the potential client. So in both cases (cheap unit cost and repeated exposure), there’s nothing like a tchotchke.

Popular Tchotchkes for 2022

In this light I did further research online and found an article by Patric Black, president and CEO of It is entitled “Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022” (01/19/2022). It’s quite a good starting point, since it also explains why the particular promotional items are so popular.

Embossed Apparel and Outerwear

According to Patric Black, apparel is at the top of the list, especially embossed apparel, because embossing provides a unique feel and appearance, and because it suggests high quality. (This perception of product quality also enhances the perceived quality of the brand the apparel displays.) The embossing is done with a raised seal, heat, and pressure. It gives a sculptural look and feel to the canvas (of the sports cap, for instance).

Black’s article notes that apparel is so popular because it is useful and because (if it’s of a high quality) it projects an image of status. Think about branded items from Gucci and similar designers. And if the embossing is done on “cotton, polyester, leather, pleather, fleece, and polar fleece fabrics” (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”), the items will provide an “upscale look with a fresh alternative to traditional decorating techniques” (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”). Moreover, unlike some commercial printing techniques (such as inkjet custom printing), embossing “will not fade or wash away” (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”).

Wooden Kitchen Utensils

I was surprised that these are so popular, actually, but it does make a lot of sense. Many people (myself included) enjoy cooking as a hobby and way to relax. It seems to me that in this frame of mind a potential client may be more open to absorbing the marketing messages they see repeatedly as they are cooking with branded wood utensils.

Furthermore, unlike metal utensils, wooden utensils don’t conduct heat (you don’t accidentally get burned), they don’t melt, and they don’t scratch expensive pots and pans. They also “will not react chemically with the acids in food and won’t leave a metallic aftertaste,” and they “will not release harmful chemicals into the food you prepare” (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”). They are durable, resistant to breakage, and far less likely than metal or wood to spread bacteria (some woods like bamboo are even antimicrobial). And for those who are environmentally conscious, wood is a good choice because it is “biodegradable, renewable, and non-toxic” (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”).

Dyed Caps with Patches

“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022” notes that caps (headwear) are #3 in the list of ten top promotional items (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”). The bright color grabs the attention of the viewer, while the marketing message on the patch seals the deal. The article specifically references adhesive patches which can be easily applied and removed, although I have also seen very attractive embroidered patches sewn onto the caps.

Vibrant Drinkware

This category, as noted in Black’s article, would include cups and mugs of various kinds. Since we’re usually drinking something (even water or juice), these are very useful, as well as a way to add bright color to one’s presentation (i.e., it’s fun as well as useful). As I recall from prior research, this kind of item can also be imaged with custom screen printing or dye sublimation. A logo on such a bright product can be very effective.


“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022” includes wearable blankets, weighted blankets, socks, and spa kits in this category.

Here’s why they are so popular. Wearable blankets and weighted blankets (even the right kind of socks) can make you feel warm, comfortable, and pampered. They wrap you up. In a world that has been especially anxiety producing of late, the idea of feeling safe and protected is very appealing. This is also especially true of the spa kits Patric Black includes in his list (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”). For a number of years, people have missed the pampering that comes with such beauty products as “bath bombs, bath salts, and some essential oils” (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”). These spa kits can also provide items for re-gifting and allow recipients to try new products.

Seed Paper

There are actual seeds bound within the fibers of these papers. You can plant them and they will grow. Such promotional products as seed paper project a brand’s environmental awareness, given that they can be printed “on 100% post-industrial, recycled paper and dyed with all-natural vegetable-based pigments” (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”). These promotional products provide a sense that “the world can be restored” (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”).

Personal Protectant

“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022” includes branded pepper spray and personal alarms in this category. Presumably with the rise in crime over the past few years, these will potentially be useful safety devices as well as a brand statement.

Packaging and PR Boxes

This category overlaps a bit with spa kits. The whole idea of kits is to expose recipients to new items they might like. Also, people like to open gift boxes. They call this the “unboxing experience.” A savvy marketer who includes quality, unique products in aesthetically appealing packaging, and who adds a personalized note to the recipient, all in the coordinated brand colors of the supplier, with prominent logo, phone, and web information, can go a long way towards a sale (called a “conversion” in marketing parlance). People like pampering and (good) surprises. Such promotional products can also create a bridge between physical marketing materials and online marketing, each of which will enhance the other. And such PR boxes can encourage the recipient to share items with friends, increasing the reach of the promotional product (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”).


“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022” addresses sporting events in this category (including foam fingers, for instance, and inflatable “thunder sticks” you bang against one another at an event or match). These and even cowbells (which are the right shape to emblazon with a logo) are perfect for a marketing message. And they will get used repeatedly. Or, you could print a logo and tagline on a resistance band. At the gym or even at one’s office desk, such a product will remind the potential customer of the brand image.

Outdoor and Leisure

Finally, “Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022” notes items that pertain to having fun outside, which is particularly understandable after more than two years of COVID lockdowns. This category includes can “koozies” (to keep your beverages cold) and on a larger scale the full-size beverage coolers themselves.

You can even print on a matchbook, “great for indoor fireplaces, outdoor fire pits, and even a classy way to light candles” (“Top 10 Promotional Product Trends for 2022”).

The Takeaway

Tchotchkes just work. Put your marketing message on any or all of the items Patric Black noted in his list. It’s an inexpensive, especially effective way to market your business.

And here’s another option, which Black didn’t mention: USB sticks. Everyone needs them these days. You’ll get your message out repeatedly to your prospective clients.

In terms of design and custom printing, it’s important to keep your branding consistent (colors, logo, and layout). Also, make it easy for your prospect to contact you. Include your website and phone number on everything.

These products rely on a number of commercial printing technologies, from custom screen printing to inkjet printing to dye sublimation to pad printing. Some are even embossed or embroidered. Discuss all of these options with your commercial printing supplier.

Keep in mind that promotional item printing is a specialty. Not all printers do this kind of work. Approach the printers you trust, and if they can’t meet your promotional product printing needs, ask them for suggested vendors they trust.

Custom Printing: The Power of Promotional Items or Tchotchkes

Tuesday, May 31st, 2022

Photo purchased from …

About twenty years ago I was given a foam-rubber BlackBerry. It was a Congressional Quarterly promotional item (also known as a “tchotchke” or “swag” or “give away.” I had my own real BlackBerry at the time, so this exact-size toy was really quite intriguing. The keys were slightly raised. The colors were accurate (blue and silver). And it even had a message on its foam-rubber screen.

Custom Printing: The Magic of Thermochromatic Inks

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020

Purchased from …

I was digging around in the cupboard a few days ago, readjusting the coffee mugs that were often stacked three cups high. My fiancee’s second favorite thrift-store item after clothes is coffee mugs, so I’m usually greeted by pithy statements about life when I open the dish cabinet door. (more…)

Custom Printing: Useful and Stylish Promotional Items

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016

I’m a sucker for free promotional items. I understand how they work. I know they keep the brand in front of me as I use the items on a daily basis. But, guess what? They’re useful and they look good. So I still like them. (more…)

Custom Printing: Printed Wristband Is “All the Rage”

Monday, September 29th, 2014

I used to make fun of silicone wrist bands. I don’t know why. Maybe I thought they were a fad. But when I was given one recently I became a convert.

These little promotional pieces are an excellent value, cheap to produce, and sought after with almost religious fervor. (more…)

Custom Printing: What Is “Transpromo” Printing?

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

I’ve been getting mobile phone invoices for several years now, and I’m noticing an increasing sophistication in what would now be generally termed this “Transpromo” or “Transpromotional” printing material. (more…)

Business Printing: Thoughts on Logo Use and Branding

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

Many years ago when I was an art director, the firm I worked for commissioned a logo redesign by an outside designer. Then, to create a corporate identity using the logo design, my company brought the job in-house. (more…)

Promotional Products: A Mixed Bag, but Revenue Is Trending Upward

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

I read an interesting article today on the PM (Promo Marketing) website referencing IBISWorld’s market survey on promotional products. The good news is that revenue is increasing. (more…)


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