Despite the high-tech world we live in, the British still love pens best when it comes to promotional giveaways, with a staggering 150 million pens given away in the past 12 months. That’s the surprise finding of new consumer research conducted on behalf of the British Promotional Merchandise Association (BPMA).

Gordon Glenister, director general of the BPMA, says, “Many of our members are using technology now to personalize the promotional merchandise with people’s names alongside the brand. This makes the merchandise even more valuable to the recipient and increases the probability that the company name will be visible for longer. This is why everyone, from hotels to technology companies, likes to have their names on products like pens.”

In a survey of brand marketers,  BPMA found that the pen was the most popular promotional product among UK consumers. The total amount spent by British companies on promotional merchandise in 2014 approached £1 billion (US$1.54 billion), and firms are happy to spend an average of up to £5 (US$7.71) per item to get their marketing messages across to consumers.

The top 10 products the British like to take home are:

  1. Pens
  2. Branded bags
  3. Electronic items (branded memory sticks and power banks)
  4. Branded or personalized mugs
  5. Promotional clothing
  6. Note pads
  7. Mints/sweets
  8. Stress balls
  9. Mouse pads
  10. Stationery

The BPMA commissioned the research from FACTS International, with one-to-one qualified interviews with top brand marketers undertaken at this year’s Marketing Week Live and Technology for Marketing shows. It was published in support of Promotional Products Week, which began Monday and runs through Friday. More information on the event can be found on