2016 Meetings Merchandise Trends

Enhancing the attendee experience is the prime goal of merchandise programs

merchandise budget trends 1

Recently, Successful Meetings sent a survey out to our readership asking them about how they incorporate merchandise into their events. Of the respondents, 46 percent were corporate planners, 30 percent were independent or third party planners, and 24 percent worked for associations. Of that pool, 63 percent reported that merchandise offers were an effective or extremely effective way to enhance the attendee experience at an event. Here's what else they had to say.

Planners' attitudes toward merchandise bars

Familiar with the concept but do not plan to incorporate it any events: 31%
Have incorporated them into events: 21%
Not familiar with the concept but would consider incorporating it into events: 20%
Not familiar with the concept and do not plan to incorporate it into any events: 16%
Plan to incorporate the concept into future events: 12%

Types of events that incorporate merchandise

Corporate meetings: 30%
Trade shows: 28%
Conventions: 25%
Incentive trips: 17%

Most common reasons for incorporating merchandise into events

Enhance the attendee experience: 66%
Reinforce the host organization/attendee relationship: 44%
Promote the event: 39%
Thank speakers or other attendees: 43%
Recognize achievement: 35%
Generate Sponsorship revenue: 23%

Effectiveness of merchandise in helping to achieve these goals

Very effective: 26%
Effective: 37%
Somewhat effective: 36%
Not effective: 1%

Most popular categories of merchandise to use at events

Apparel: 58%
Gift cards: 46%
Desktop/office accessories: 45%
Electronics: 45%
Plaques: 37%
Writing instruments: 35%
Books, music, movies: 29%
Food: 28%
Wine and spirits: 23%
Crystal: 20%
Leather goods: 19%
Tabletop items: 18%
Clocks: 17%
Luggage: 14%
Watches: 14%
Outdoor/leisure equipment: 13%
Cameras: 12%
Jewelry: 11%
Sporting goods: 11%
Toys/games: 8%
Cigars and tobacco accessories 7%
Cookware: 7%
Tools: 6%

Over the past to years budgets for merchandise usage at events has:

Increased: 31%
Decreased: 27%
Stayed the same: 48%

How planners purchase merchandise

Promotional products company: 56%
Direct from manufacturer/supplier: 54%
Reseller/distributor: 37%
Online: 33%
Retail: 21%
Gift service company: 24%

Over the past 12 months, the number of organizations that have restricted/prohibited the corporate gifts their employees can accept has:

Not changed: 38%
Increased: 32%
Decreased: 4%
I have not encountered any organizations that restrict/prohibit the corporate gifts their employees can accept: 26%

Most popular gift card categories

Dining/restaurant: 40%
Retail: 28%
Entertainment: 20%
Prepaid/Debit cards: 35
Gas: 8%
Multiple-merchant: 6%
Experiential: 4%
Travel: 7%