How marketing works is quite familiar to many people, especially now that businesses are doing their own marketing using online tools. What some companies don’t do is merchandise marketing (or merchandising, as some call it). It’s a big thing to many retail brands, fast food restaurants, and fandoms, such as the Kpop groups. But many businesses have yet to discover the subtle effectiveness of merch.
What Is Merchandise Marketing?
Merchandise marketing is a strategy that uses any tangible item (merchandise) to boost brand or product awareness and customer loyalty. A lot of prominent brands have built their business empire from merchandising. One of the best examples is McDonald’s marketing strategy, which has made it one of the largest international fast-food chains. The company’s Happy Meal promos use trendy and movie-themed toys to attract children, influencing their parents to buy the meal set to get the merch.
Another example is Starbucks, which reaps revenues every year from creating a planner culture, driving coffee enthusiasts to line up every day for a drink and sticker to earn their New Year planner.
How Does Merchandise Marketing Build Brand Awareness?
Traditionally, merchandise promotes your brand by displaying your logo or any icon associated with your brand. Printing companies, such as instagraph.com, produce T-shirts and other clothing pieces for various brands and retail stores. When customers walk around wearing these brands’ logos, they become the marketing medium. It increases the brands’ exposure wherever the customers go. People who see those T-shirts are subtly absorbing the image and brand name.
The same thing goes for company or event premiums, such as keychains, fridge magnets, mugs, pens, and others. Once recipients of these items bring them home, they leave the things lying around for everyone else to see. The longer they are left undiscarded – unlike door drops and flyers, premiums and promotional items are often too pretty to be discarded — the more they can build brand awareness. ;
Big tech companies are using more advanced merchandise that people can use in everyday life, especially when distributing items in conventions and international conferences. We see cool promotional merchandise, including CCTV camera stuffed toys, USB hubs, power banks, phone cases with charging kits, and headphones. There are drones, Swissknife phone holders, mobile workstation packs, mugs with temperature readers, umbrellas that change color with the weather, and other exciting products.
However, businesses are now deviating from purely branded merchandise. The more popular brands no longer use the main product or brand image for their merch. For instance, McDonald’s may have subdued logos in merch items that promote movies or events to prioritize the movie or event’s logo. ;
Cornerstones of Merchandising Marketing
Even though it’s a tried-and-tested way of marketing products that companies have done for decades, not all businesses reap the benefits of merchandise marketing. The essential thing to note is your goal. After all, branding your merch isn’t just a matter of creating pretty stuff or putting colors on your existing products. People who see your merch should recognize and connect with you when they do.
To achieve that, you must keep the following cornerstones in mind:
- Brand Recognition — Your logo and brand must be recognizable in every merch. Don’t fall into the trap of choosing a beautiful but intricate design that could drown your brand image. There’s a reason Adidas’ three lines and Nike’s checkmark are famous. On top of having high-quality products, these companies’ logos are easy to spot. You will never mistake them for another brand. Merchandise marketers can help you use color, font, or contrast to make your brand recognizable.
- Brand Loyalty — There’s bound to be numerous brands out there that use the same promotional materials you’re using. A design that’s uniquely yours or an item no one else has used will give your business a specific “identity.” As mentioned, Starbucks has given the planner culture its exclusive stamp. Although other companies offer planners as a freebie or premium, only the coffeeshop does the promo the way they do, distinguishing them from their competitors. Once you’ve set a name for yourself in a particular industry, establish a merchandising technique that customers will associate with your brand.
- Company Identity — Merchandise marketing isn’t limited to promotional items and premiums, too. Some companies use this to establish their company identity. They do it in the form of uniforms, company equipment, letterhead and stationery, pantry plates and glasses, or ID lanyards. They aren’t designed for distribution to the public, but they still promote brand awareness, recognition, and loyalty.
When making a lasting impression on your audience, you need both conventional and unconventional tactics. Think of your merchandise as a big business card that’s in plain view of everyone. Merchandise marketing is all about capturing the attention and emotion of the public. And for that, you must get creative!