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The Advertising Specialty Institute says that hand sanitizers now rival pens as the most popular logoed items that companies are giving away to clients and employees. Indeed, searches of the key words "hand sanitizers" by promotional products distributors via the Advertising Specialty Institute's promotional products database jumped 439 percent for the period between October 2009 and October 2008.
Only searches for pens -- which for years have been the best-selling logoed product -- were higher that period. In addition, searches for sanitizer products of all kinds jumped by triple digits this year.
"Certainly, there's been a dramatic increase in sales of sanitizer sprays, gels and other antibacterial products," said Larry Wilhelm, CEO of Custom HBC, a supplier of customized health and beauty products for the advertising specialty field. The item is now a best-seller, Wilhelm said. "Since May, sales on this item have increased from about 400,000 to 750,000 units a month."
Sales of all logoed sanitizing products surged in early spring, and again in September, at the start of flu season, Wilhelm said. The "swine flu," or H1N1, is a new influenza virus first detected in people in the United States in April 2009. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests that when soap and water are not available, alcohol-based disposable hand wipes or gel sanitizers may be used to help prevent the spread of germs.
Wilhelm says sanitizing products aren't just used as promotional giveaways. More human resources departments are buying them for employees to reduce absenteeism caused by illness.
Sales of promotional products were nearly $20 billion in 2008. Buyers identify such products as the most effective medium among all advertising, next to the Internet, according to a recent study from the Advertising Specialty Institute.