Promotional merchandise or merch can be one of the most powerful tools an advertiser or marketeer has in their belt. By giving away products for free, you can turn customers into walking, talking advertisements, as well as reminding them about your company every time they use your products. However, as more people have cottoned on to the benefits of merch, the variety of merchandise available for a company to give away has exploded as companies try to stand out. This would be fine if all merch is created equal, but it has created an onslaught of free merch that nobody wants – which is a massive waste of money. If you’re struggling with choosing some merch that you can be sure will yield a good ROI, these examples are a good place to start. 


Custom hats are a perfect example of good free merch. That’s because they’re very useful, both functionally and as a fashion accessory, and they are highly visible. People love their hats, and even if somebody isn’t a hat collector, the ability to show off a hat that most of their friends won’t have will increase the desirability of the free merch (and might even send some of their friends your way if your logo is cool enough).

High-End Water Bottles

A new trend of high-end water bottles emerged about 10 years ago, but most households still don’t have one. That has something to do with the fact that they are quite expensive, but as many people don’t have one, by selling a high-end water bottle, you have the opportunity to be carried around everywhere by a potential customer. This is a perfect opportunity if your target market is health-conscious and the sort of person that likes to go to the gym. 

Portable Chargers

This is another example of merch that hasn’t been overdone, probably because it is a little more expensive. However, a charger is helpful to basically everybody and helps to give the message that your company allows them to power their phones. Think of the value that people get from their phones for both business and recreation, and you can understand the subconscious gold mine on offer. Just remember to feature a charger that has a USB B and C slot, as people are transitioning to USB C, and this can be merch that lasts for years, so the ROI is quite high if you depreciate your purchases. 

Screen Cleaners

Screen cleaning wipes are probably the cheapest option you’ll be able to find on this list, but they can be a powerful tool if they’re associated with your brand image. If your brand helps to clarify things for customers or improves their technology, screen cleaners can help to massage in your brand’s message. 

Calculating Depreciation

If you are put off by the expensive nature of some merch, you should do a simple depreciation calculation so you can compare the relative price of two products once you have their prices. Merch depreciation can be calculated by guessing how long the customer will use the merch (in months) and then dividing the price by those months. You’ll be able to see which product buys you the most time with the least money.