“Half the money I spend on advertising is wasted. Trouble is… I don’t know which half.”

–John Wanamaker, Department Store Innovator and Marketing Pioneer

This is exactly the way most enterprises regard branded merchandise.

They know they’re spending a lot, and they know it’s helping somehow — but they don’t have a strategy to maximize the effectiveness of their investment.

The fragmented market is partly to blame. Over 20,000 North American distributors invoice $23 billion annually. Because so many distributors proliferate the market, large enterprises end up buying similar products at different terms from local or regional distributors in each city.

Most enterprises understand they need to centralize their brand merchandise purchasing to control their strategy, spend and brand. Many try. But they too frequently end up with partners, products and platforms that fall far short of delivering the potential business and brand benefits.

Here are some of the biggest mistakes they make.


They think the product is THE product

When it comes to brand merchandise, the product isn’t really “the product.” Most companies are actually striving to buy improved outcomes. Brand impressions, product awareness, message recall, customer satisfaction, brand experience, brand affinity, purchasing loyalty, employee recognition and engagement, etc. Hundreds of Fortune-ranked companies spend seven figures annually on merchandise in hopes of improving such results—yet they never evaluate the product investment in this way!

When you evaluate brand merchandise strategies, don’t start with the product. Start with what you want with the investment. Then evaluate partners and platforms. Assess their ability to help you harness brand merchandise to improve the specific outcomes you are targeting. Find the right partner and the right products will follow. This leads us to the next issue…


They worry more about cost than product strategy and deployment 

Sure, it’s better to pay less for what you need if you can. Bosses and shareholders love it when you create savings. But they value improved business and brand results even more, and so should you. Work with a merchandiser with the expertise, platforms and processes to create truly unique products and actually help deploy them towards your strategic objectives.

How well does the distributor understand your brand and strategic imperatives? Can they tell you why the product they’re recommending is right for your brand, audiences and objectives? Do they have the people and platforms to put the merchandise to work towards your objectives?

By all means, make sure product costs are in line. But if you value price over strategies, trend relevance, platform functionality, product differentiation and brand congruence, you will end up with products and platforms that don’t serve their purpose. That is way more expensive!


Have we caught your attention yet? Then let us help you get started today!

Stay tuned for more common merchandise mishaps coming soon!