4 Tips for a Branded Merchandise Strategy
Branded merchandise (i.e., promotional products) has always been seen as a sidebar for grand openings or sponsorships; however, it should play an integral role within your overall marketing strategy. Through the use of branded merchandise, retailers can show brand personality, reinforce their message and understanding of target audience, and engage with customers in a way that will create brand resonance. Case in point, a 2014 study conducted by the Advertising Specialty Institute found that promotional products deliver commanding advertiser recall among 85 percent of consumers surveyed.
However, to achieve optimal results with your branded merchandise, it's important to have a strategy in place that's tailored to the needs of your target customers. Here are some tips to make sure you use promotional products effectively:
1. Use items that carry a high usability and perceived value. The most popular items for trade shows and conferences are lifestyle products with functional elements — e.g., sportswear, power banks, chargers, "smart" bags and totes, drink ware, on-the-go health items. Make sure to take the experience beyond the booth during these events by doing room drops or having three related products that attendees can collect at three different stages of the event. Marry trendy participant gifts with brand personality and messaging to ensure recall recognition.
2. Implement an effective strategy. Use creative, fun and lifestyle-branded merchandise to help reinforce the understanding in the recipient's mind that "this company gets me," such as Jack Link's Beef Jerky "Beard Hat Night" at the Seattle Mariners game in recognition of the beard trend happening with their target customer base. It may be fairly obvious, but it's worth stating: co-branding with well-known products, especially one that's popular among target customers, is a great strategy, as the affiliation can bring both strong brand recognition and perceived value.
Some other branded merchandise trends in 2015 include more cost-effective methods for personalization of items for mass production application, and the fusion of activation goals and 3-D branded merchandise, such as the GEICO custom "Hump Day", which takes the digital creative and puts it in the hands of customers.
Related story: Branding Beyond the Products You Sell