Why freebies don’t work

Spoiler alert: branded gifts do work.

Branded merchandise gifts at a train station

Everyone loves getting free stuff. And brands know that, with the promotional gift market in the US worth a staggering $28 billion. Brands are led to believe that freebies are the holy grail of networking, helping attract and engage customers and build their lead generation. 

But in actual fact, freebies often tend to be cheap, mass-produced trinkets that nobody actually wants – beyond the fact that they’re free. A whopping 66% of these promotional products end straight up in landfills. So, how much impact did that freebie really make for your brand before being chucked in the trash? 

As we all become more environmentally conscious and smarter with our brand marketing, we need to rethink our promotional product strategy. That’s why MOO emphasizes lasting gifts over throwaway freebies. High-quality, well-designed branded merchandise speaks volumes for your company and adds real, perceived value to the recipient. 

Read on to find out why you need gifts, not freebies, at your next event.

The problem with freebies 

At trade shows, conferences, and networking events, it’s common to see tables laden with all sorts of freebies. Each one is designed to attract attention and improve brand recognition, but the wrong kind of freebies actually do the opposite. 

Cheaply-made items dilute your brand message and say something about its quality. These free products are usually made from single-use plastic, and non-recyclable materials. 

Examples of low-value freebies usually include: 

  • Flimsy tote bags
  • Single-use stress balls
  • Lanyards
  • Novelty gadgets 
  • Keychains

The impact of gifts over freebies

A branded Notebook and Water Bottle being held by a recipient at an event

Intentional gifting prizes high-quality, thoughtfully designed merchandise over cheap throwaway items. Whether it’s sending a client gift or giving away beautifully printed Postcard bundles, gifting is all about human connection. And connection breeds (brand) loyalty: 

  • 73% of consumers are more likely to consider buying from a business that gave them a promotional product they kept. 
  • 89% of people who were given a high-quality product within the last two years remember the name of the company.
  • 70% of customers are willing to purchase a product from a brand after receiving a free gift. 

Gifts help you go deeper than the average event freebie, promoting your brand in a much more meaningful way. And that’s what people will remember long after the event is over.

Gifts can improve people’s lives

A event attendee holding a set of printed gifts from a trade show

Consider how your promotional products can provide lasting value. Maybe it’s a gorgeous, design-led and thoughtfully made Water Bottle that attendees will actually use in their day-to-day lives. By focusing on premium gifts, you’re giving people something they will keep, thereby creating a longer-lasting brand touchpoint

Nobody wants to be littered with cheap trinkets, taking up space in their bag or office drawer. High-quality branded merchandise communicates your commitment to quality. It shows that you care and respect the person – you want to give them something that will improve their life in some small way. 

Gifting tiers

Quality branded gifts on a chair at a conference event

Instead of handing out freebies to everyone passing your booth, think about adopting a tiered approach. For instance, if you strike up a great conversation at a trade show, that’s the perfect opportunity to gift that person a thoughtfully branded gift bundle. Gifting puts you in control of what you give away. You may gift Sticker packs to one person and something like a Planner to another. You can even treat your print collateral like a gift, investing in tactile, high-quality paper stocks that people will love receiving.  

Power up your gifts (and print) with MOO

We think branded merchandise should be beautiful, joyful and built to last. We can help you create premium custom gifts that people will queue at your booth for. 

And it’s not just products – we can elevate your print collateral, too. Eco is one of our most sought-after event papers, sustainably bringing bulk print projects to life. Made from 100% post-consumer waste, Eco is perfect for getting your message out there in an environmentally responsible way.

To get started, fill out the form below and one of our team will be in touch. 

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