Gifts are just things that you give someone, but they are so much more than just things. Gifts are a way of showing love, care, warmth, and support for your loved ones—brands and customers share a similar relationship. Businesses use branded merchandise to express love and gratitude for their customers. While it is true that businesses and influencers use branded merchandise as an additional revenue source, they are an effective way of connecting with the audience at an emotional level, especially when they are distributed as freebies.
In this post, we will explore items used by brands as promotional products, plus the following:
- What is Branded Merchandise?
- Various Types Branding Merch
- History of Branded Merch
What is Branded Merchandise?
Whether digital or in-store, branded merch is the process of distributing, selling, and displaying products to customers and potential buyers. In simple words, branded products are items that are branded with a company logo, slogan, or name. Branded merchandise is also known as promotional products because these items are used by businesses to establish brand awareness or promote an event.
Establishing the right branding merch strategy depends upon various factors like product quality, space, sectors, and department. The better the branding merch is customized, the better will be the output.
Types of Merchandising
Product merchandising: Various promotional activities that are employed to sell different items are referred to as product merchandising. Generally, people interchangeably use the terms product merchandising and branded merchandising; however, product merchandising is only a type of branded merchandising.
Product merchandising comprises both online and in-store products and does not include service merchandising.
For example, product merchandising refers to any item sold or distributed online or in person. Such products could include physical items, such as T-shirts or shoes, or digital products, such as an ebook.
Additionally, product merchandising includes all promotional activities done online or in a store.
Digital merchandising: Referred to as online or e-commerce merchandising, digital merchandising involves all marketing or promotional activities done to sell various products online. From digital marketing to offering online solutions to selling various “physical” items online, digital merchandising is fast becoming the go-to solution for brands.
Historically, retail merchandising referred to customers’ in-store experience. But, with digital merchandising, customers experience retail merchandising fully online. That said, customers can experience digital merchandising in a physical store.
For example, the New York City-based e-commerce company, Bonobos, started as an online store that sold men’s apparel. The online store now has physical stores known as Bonobos guide shops that help customers pick the right clothes and fits. The guide shops do not sell clothes; instead, customers are requested to place digital orders after discovering what they want.
Retail merchandising: Marketing activities done to increase sales of a physical store are referred to as retail merchandising. While the definition of retail merchandising is limited to physical space, the marketing activities can be executed from various venues. From pop-up events to shopping malls to college campuses, retail merchandising can connect a large number of potential buyers to brands.
With the introduction of digital merchandising, brands and customers have found an alternative platform for buying and selling products. Brands opt for digital merchandising over their retail counterpart. In fact, digital retail sales have gone past the traditional retail sales by miles. Here are some figures:
Visual merchandising: The various tactics employed by businesses to highlight and enhance the looks and the benefits of products are referred to as visual merchandising. The concept of visual merchandising is an important part of branding merch since it entices the customers into buying the products and services on display.
One of the key elements of visual merchandising is how a product is placed to tempt potential buyers. The different elements used by brands include lighting, design, and spacing. The combination of the three produces visual magic that customers cannot get enough of.
The term visual merchandising can be applied to both online and in-store merchandising.
Omnichannel merchandising: The topic of omnichannel merchandising or omnichannel retailing is fast gaining the interest of people because of its ability to cater to every group of customers effectively. Businesses are rapidly adopting the concept of omnichannel merchandising because it allows them to be more efficient in terms of creating a unified customer experience by combining various touchpoints of a customer’s journey.
For example, a customer uses Google search to find an e-commerce platform. She then builds her cart after searching through the online store; however, she abandons her cart at the last minute. The digital retailer sends her an email in a few minutes showing what was in her cart, along with offering a 10 percent discount. She accepts, and the transaction is complete! The experience the customer had can be referred to as omni channel merchandising experience.
History of Branded Merchandising
The history of merchandising is as old as trade itself. The Ebla tablets found during an excavation conducted by Paolo Matthiae and his team in 1974 point towards Ebla, an ancient Syrian city, being the hub of trade and commerce.
Fact: The Ebla tablets reveal that the ancient city made different kinds of beer, including a variety named after the city, “Ebla.”
Jasper Meek, a Coshocton-based printer, is regarded to be the architect of the merchandising industry. He is said to have convinced a local shoe company to provide book bags to local schools with their company name imprinted on them. The idea soon began spreading like wildfire, with people mimicking what Jasper had achieved.
In 1904, a trade association for the merchandising industry was formed by 12 manufacturers. Today, the organization has over 10,000 members spread across the world and is known as the Promotional Products Association International.
Fact: While Jasper Meek is regarded as the creator of the merchandising industry, it was George Washington, the first president of the United States, who first used promotional products. In 1789, he used commemorative buttons to promote presidential elections.
10 Promotional Products that Brands Use as Merchandise
T-shirts top the list of any branding merch! Brands and designers use T-shirts to print their brand logo or an interesting slogan to hook the attention of potential buyers. If you are an influencer looking to build a following, T-shirts with slogans can be a great way to attract loyal admirers.
The second on the list is the ever-popular hoodie. It can be used in exactly the same way as T-shirts. Companies opt for hoodies because they are a walking ad for the brand. Hoodies have gained popularity because they provide comfort and are not too tight, which do not hinder your movement.
3. Water Bottles
Water bottles are amongst the most popular branding merch because they can be reused. Plastics have created near irreparable damages by harming the planet in more ways than one. Reusable water bottles are a great way of limiting the plastic pollution crisis, plus it looks awesome when redesigned for brand merchandising.
From wine gift sets to coffee mugs to fancy-looking tumblers, drinkware can easily hook the attention of the audience. Choosing drinkware as branded merch ensures that your customers are always reminded of you because these items can be used anywhere.
If you deal with children’s products, and services then you already know the importance of toys. The sure-shot way of connecting to children of any age is by gifting toys. Brands that don’t deal with children’s products can also use stuffed toys to connect with a younger audience.
6. Male Grooming Products
From K-pop groups to metrosexuals, more and more men are embracing their feminine side. According to Statista, the male grooming industry is expected to reach a whopping $8.2 billion by 2024. In their attempt to capitalize on the market, brands are attracting men by distributing male grooming products.
From hats to sunglasses to phone cases, using accessories as branding merchandise is sure to attract customers and potential buyers. For small businesses and influencers, accessories can be a cost-effective way of connecting to the audience.
8. Tech Gadgets
From Bluetooth speakers to USB flash drives to earbuds, tech gadgets are increasingly becoming a popular choice for brands to connect with customers and employees. With remote work becoming the norm of the day, companies use tech gadgets as gifts to show care and support to the employees.
9. Home Accessories
Companies use a wide range of home accessories such as curtains, table cloths, and cushions as branded merch. When used as promotional products, home accessories can attract potential customers.
10. Tote bags
One reason marketers use branded merch is to establish brand awareness. Tote bags are a popular choice among marketers because customers carry them everywhere, and as a result, more people see them.
From T-shirts to tote bags to tech gadgets, brands use a variety of products to keep customers interested. Branded merch provides companies, influencers, and creators with an opportunity to connect with the audience at a deeper level.
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Business Development Manager with a demonstrated history of working in the Media and Digital marketing sector, Passionate about innovation and bringing the future into new business solutions.