Effective choices are based on clear objectives
What, exactly, do you want your promotional products to achieve? Obviously, you want to increase your company’s visibility but to what end and, in particular, for how long? For example, if you are launching a new product and want to get the word out on the street quickly to generate interest which you hope will feed into your sales funnel, then you probably want to look at a low-cost, high-visibility product your customer will “use and lose”.
Confectionery is probably the best choice here and you can keep costs down by using packaging intended for immediate recycling. This can still look very attractive and can be used to hold key details, such as your website. If, on the other hand, you’re looking to keep your company in the mind of important contacts over the longer term, then you need to find something they will either use regularly or will enjoy looking at over the long term (the ideal would be both). If you have the budget, you could go for useful items such as premium office accessories.
If, however, you want to keep costs down, then the number one option is generally confectionery in a reusable container. This can also be a diplomatic option since it means that the confectionery part of the gift can be shared with other staff, if the recipient wishes, while they keep the container for storage.
Remember your recipient is a person, not a billboard
Be very careful with the likes of promotional clothing and bulkier bags. You may like the idea of having your company logo carried about everywhere the recipient goes but they might not agree and might prefer to keep the item for occasions when it won’t be seen or just stick it in a drawer and forget about it. Folding bags can be a reasonable option since they are light, easy to carry and very practical since many people now wish to avoid using plastic bags. If you go down this route, however, you will generally want to ensure you use a decent quality cotton tote or something similar rather than a plastic drawstring back as the latter tend to be quite flimsy and therefore not really suitable for shopping.