A fresh look at merchandise: the sector that got a bad name
As real-world events return, does branded merchandise still have a role to play for creative agencies?
Want to promote your client's brand in a meaningful and effective way? Over the last decade, that's overwhelmingly been about digitally-focused campaigns and content. Yet the recent turmoil at Twitter has pointed to a wider truth: that online algorithms are increasingly unkind to creative people.
Those of us who aren't interested in OTT stunts, flame wars or trolling are finding it more and more difficult to surface quality content on social platforms. And creative agencies are finding this approach no longer provides good ROI.
At the same time, 'In Real Life' events are back with a vengeance, and everyone's enjoying meeting up in person and making more than surface-level connections. In this new era, merchandise is re-emerging as a way to promote brands at a more fundamental level.
Not everyone, though, is going at the same speed on this. And frankly, we're not surprised.
For a long time, branded merchandise had a bad name as an unsustainable practice: one that meant wasteful gifts or handouts at events that no one took home or that just cluttered up their desk drawer before finding their way into the bin. (No one likes throwing stuff into landfill, particularly free stuff. But what's the alternative when you have no use for it?)
To take the temperature of creative agencies on this issue, we recently held a poll with the question, "What do you think of branded merchandise for your clients or events?" The respondents were split down the middle, with 52.6% loving it but 47.4% feeling it's "no longer relevant".
So is there still a role for branded merchandise in 2023? Many believe there is, but it has to be done correctly. And that's very much not how things used to be.
"I think it depends on the merch and design," says Tom Grattan, co-owner and brand strategist at EXP Consultancy. "Single-use plastic can seem a bit tacky." Tony Clarkson of &Something Studio agrees, adding: "I'd be fussy about what it was. I wouldn't stick a logo on a pen, for example. Maybe a decent notebook?"
Doing Things Differently
Back in 2019, entrepreneurs Simon Polet and Benoit Fortpied had similar thoughts. And so they founded Merchery: a company that's on a mission to do things differently. Rather than add to landfill with cheap, unwanted items such as USB sticks and badges, they reasoned, why not give them really nice things that people will treasure and keep?
And now that's exactly what they deliver for their partners. With Merchery, you can promote your client's brand with high-quality swag to die for.
In terms of making a meaningful connection with people, each one of these promotional products is worth all the low-rent stickers, USB sticks and keyrings you could ever muster. Plus, it's all responsibly sourced and environmentally sustainable, so you can feel good about yourself too.
Mechery's product team is super-careful in selecting its partners and curating products that meet its three pillars: being long-lasting, well-designed and useful. Products cover a huge range of categories, including office supplies, textiles, drinkware, food, lifestyle, home, leisure, gift boxes and labels, and you can peruse the full range in the Merchery Shop.
In short, Merchery is changing negative perceptions of merchandise as they breathe new life into the space. And they've even created a special club for creative agencies, showing them how merchandise can be used positively and without hurting the planet.
Join The Club
The Club is free to join, with no credit card required, and is open to any creative professional or company that wants to produce merch for their customers. These include branding agencies, communication agencies, event agencies and creative freelancers.
The biggest benefit to joining The Club is that you'll get express lead times and a dedicated team to help you to create your own customised merchandise for clients. You'll also get access to versions of Merchery's packshots that have been decomposed with smart objects, so you can use them in your own presentations and marketing.
To help you plan your campaigns effectively, you can even get merchandise samples sent to you for free, with no strings attached. And if you're looking for large quantities (over 1,000 pieces), you can even work with Merchery to create bespoke products.
Best of all, it's simple to become a member of The Club: just fill in this easy form to subscribe. Do so today, and discover how branded merchandise could give your client relationships a whole new lease of life!