The promotional merchandise industry in the UK emerged during the late 1950s. Although companies and individuals provided gifts before this, the promotional merchandise industry was formally established during this time. In following years the industry continued to grow as companies started to realise the importance of growing their brands and attracting customers through incentives and gifts featuring their companies logo. As the industry grew so did the range of goods on offer. Whilst initially it would have been lighters and pens as the years went by this grew to incorporate a large amount of consumer items. Now days there are thousands of items on offer at any one time by thousands or promotional products suppliers and distributors.
In later years these catalogues were the main source of products as distributors would send these out to customer so they could view the products on offer. The internet age has caused this to change dramatically with customer now able to view products online and even purchase the products they require.While in the early years promotional merchandise catalogues were the sales tools, now an explosion of new technologies has meant that customers are able to view products through a number of mediums.
The promotional products industry in the UK is made up of distributor and supplier. While they may sound the same there is a distinction. Distributors are companies which are experts in sourcing promotional products and then selling them to end users. They are usually members of trade organisations and attend trade only shows like (PSI) show in Europe and the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) Show in Las Vegas, NV. Suppliers on the other hand are companies that either manufacture or import promotional products and then sell them to the distributor. Suppliers generally don’t sell direct to the end users.