9 Ways to Budget for Swag in an Inflationary Economy

June 27, 2022

If you feel like your company’s buying power has diminished substantially over the past year, you’re not alone. According to U.S. Labor Department Data, as of May 2022, the US saw an inflation rate increase of 8.6% over last year— marking the highest increase since the early 80s.  

As your company grapples with how to survive inflation in 2022, keep reading for swag tips and tricks on how to cut costs while keeping your brand top of mind and your recipients inspired. Plus, we’ve also included the best categories for inexpensive swag ideas that allow for customization.

9 Best Tips for Dealing with Inflation

Super cheap (quality and likely price) swag that falls apart won’t help your company’s marketing efforts. Instead, opt for inexpensive quality swag for employees and customers that is sustainable. 

1. Update your swag with more cost-effective items.

This could be as simple as choosing one less color for your customization or swapping out high-end products and gear for more affordable items. 

2. Re-evaluate your swag needs based on your annual budgets.

Do you really need glow sticks and outdated tech? When it comes to inexpensive company swag quality over quantity will always win. 

3. Purchase customized swag in bulk for the best savings. 

While placing a larger order over a smaller one may seem counter-intuitive, know that many suppliers offer bulk savings. So instead of placing separate swag orders throughout your business quarters, see which purchases can be combined. Not only do you have the opportunity to save per piece, but you’ll pay for fewer setup costs too! Ask your Gemnote rep for details. 

4. Update Your Event Strategy. 

Is your company able to host a virtual event over an in-person one? Or maybe you could go for a smaller venue while offering attendees the opportunity to tune in live? While you can’t offset the causes and effects of inflation this can help your company and out-of-town attendees (who would otherwise have to travel) save time and money.  

5. Use incentives for distributing branded merch. 

SWAG, aka, stuff we all get, doesn’t have to be a free for all. Maybe it’s a gift for attending your conference. Or, maybe it’s something given to recipients for leaving a review or signing up for email updates. 

Check out our inexpensive swag ideas below for custom products that work great with incentives.  

6. Opt for sustainable swag or giveaways. 

Inexpensive swags shouldn’t leave your recipient wondering why you even bothered. Instead, opt for customized items they can use on repeat and keep your brand fresh in their mind. 

7. Choose high-quality products that are not name-brand.  

Respect your inflation-proof budget by skipping lux designer brands. Scoring options that offer the same—or better— quality is a great offset-to-inflation example. 

8. Order early to avoid expedited shipping costs. 

Expedited shipping is definitely not how to survive inflation. When it comes to swag tips and tricks ordering early is always a top contender!

9. Create a Swag Store for Your Employees. 

Want to reward your employees even with the inflation rate increase? Of course you do! Creating a swag store is an excellent way to offer branded merch while respecting your inflation-proof budget. 

For example, invest in inexpensive swags for years of service and birthdays and inexpensive Christmas swags for holidays. Then, let your employee swag store do the rest. 

5 Best Swag Categories for Dealing with Inflation

You don’t need an inflation calculator to know that prices for goods and services are going up across the board. Regardless of the causes and types of inflation, the custom swag items below will help your company market your brand and delight your recipients for less. 

1. Best Cheap Swag: Drinkware

Water bottles remain a favorite when it comes to memorable swag. And while the causes and effects of inflation will impact your swag buying decisions, you can find a plethora of customizable bottles that are durable, safe, and inexpensive.   

Probably the best inexpensive swag for employees and customers, nothing beats the usability and durability of a great stainless steel insulated bottle that’s perfect for customers and employees who travel or have daily commutes. 

Shown: ETS Express: h2go Silo 

If you’re looking for something a little more unexpected, why not try a glass bottle? Just remember, cheap swag bags should still feature quality products that won’t break easily. So look for features like borosilicate glass that’s durable and heat resistant. Plus, with its threaded bamboo lid and translucent soft-touch finish, an affordable option like this one from ETS Express can rival all your favorite high-end brands. 

Shown: ETS Express h2go Rincon  

Want an even cheaper option than stainless steel and glass bottles? Opt for a high-quality plastic bottle. It’s important to note, however, that while cheap swag bag ideas will adhere to your inflation-proof budget, skimping on important details like quality and safety won’t do you—or your brand any favors. For an on-budget inflation example that won’t let you down, you can’t go wrong with the  ETS Express bottle that’s designed with Eastman Tritan copolyester that’s BPA- and BPS-free. 

Shown: ETS Express h2go Canter 

Mugs also make cheap swag items that are a favorite in the drinkware category. And, not only are they proof that inexpensive swag ideas don’t have to be boring, but you can fund durable options for drop shipping too!  

For a traditional style insulated mug that works in and out of the office, as well as on camping trips, a Camper Mug is a solid option. Opt for a durable stainless steel design with a secure lid, it’s available in a plethora of colors and ready for customizing! 

Shown: ETS Express Camper Mug  

Wondering how to survive inflation? Look no further than your favorite classic mug! With endless color, style, and design options available, it’s easy to create an on-brand, on-trend favorite. Talk to your Gemnote rep about how you can get high-quality stoneware mugs that won’t exceed your budget. 

Shown: ETS Express Cedar Mug 

Shown: ETS Express Magnolia


2. Inexpensive Custom Swag: Apparel

As far as inexpensive swag items go, customized tees will always be a top contender! So when the inflation rate is up, let your swag tips for inflation get you back on track with cheaper brands, like HANES®, that are known for quality and durability.   

Whether it’s branded tees for your event attendees, hoodies for your hardworking team, or a custom crewneck for your swag store, you can find inexpensive options from Hanes® that boast a simple style and easy comfort that’s perfect for customizing. 

Shown: Hanes® Cotton Tee Shirt

Shown: Hanes® EcoSmart® - Pullover Hooded Sweatshirt

Shown: Hanes® - EcoSmart® Crewneck Sweatshirt

3. Inexpensive Marketing Swag: Bags

Need cheap company swag ideas? Try letting your swag literally be the bag. In other words, skip the designer packaging and let your customized product do the heavy lifting. From backpack coolers that make great event giveaways to hip packs (yes, fanny packs are still trending) for customers and employees alike, bags offer a great sustainable option over one-and-done swag. 

Have a swag store with luggage and duffel bags? Smaller customized organizational bags like the convertible sling bag below from Renegade are the perfect complement! 


Shown: Renew rPET Backpack Cooler

Shown: Customized Hip Bag

Have a swag store with luggage and duffel bags? Smaller customized organizational bags like the convertible sling bag below from Renegade are the perfect complement! 

Shown: Renegade Convertible Sling Bag

4 Inexpensive Swag Bag Ideas: Accessories 

You don’t need an inflation calculator to tell you that the cost of similar products continues to increase from last year. So when it comes to swag tips for inflation, switching to a more inexpensive swag category will help offset the cost. 

Case in point, instead of investing in pricey tech, why not switch to tech accessories like laptop covers and tech pouches? Or skip the tech altogether and choose an item that promotes relaxation, like a plush throw. 

Shown: Port Authority Ultra Plush Blanket 

Shown: Custom Zippered Pouch

Shown: Custom Portrait Laptop Sleeves

5. Cheap Custom Swag: Office Supplies

Cheap swag ideas don’t have to look the part. In fact, with a great product and your company’s branding, you’ve got cheap swag bag items that put the fun in functional! So while you may be searching for cheap ideas for swag bags, you can think of these as the hidden gems for inflation in economics.   

Shown: Custom Mini Notebooks

Shown: Custom Bic Clic Pens 

Shown: Sticker Sheets or Sticker Packs
Photo courtesy of A24 Films

Causes and Types of Inflation

According to Investopedia, there are three main causes of inflation: demand-pull inflation, cost-push inflation, and built-in inflation.

While there are many causes of inflation which revolve around supply and demand, the effects of inflation can be seen in the soaring cost of gas prices and groceries,  not to mention the housing market and travel industry. Additional causes of inflation can be pointed to the pandemic, worker shortages, and supply chain issues. Inflation in economics also indicates that one of the main causes of inflation includes an increased money supply. 

Regardless of the main causes of inflation, just one look at the inflation calculator can show you just how much the buying power of the US dollar had changed and dates all the way back to 1913.  

Most will agree that small and steady inflation in economics can be good. Specifically, consistent inflation (think 2% year after year) supports a healthy, growing economy. However, How Inflation Erodes The Value Of Your Money by Forbes states that unchecked inflation can topple a country’s economy.  

The causes and effects of inflation are not just happening to companies but their employees and customers too. With the rate of inflation and cost of living superseding the average yearly increase for workers, households are feeling the pinch and looking for ways to minimize their spending. Thus further increasing the effects of inflation. 

As you look into swag tips and tricks for dealing with inflation, it’s important not to skimp on customization. After all, what’s the point of investing in sustainable swag if your recipient forgets how they got it? 

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