Who’s Jumping on the Branded Merch Train?

Global Trends Advertising Custom Merchandise


So who's been jumping on the branded merchandise train?


Let’s rephrase: Who’s NOT jumping on the branded merch train?


The world of promotional products has been recently popularized in the past couple years by custom merchandise. This evolution gives customized items more of a quality and less inexpensive feel. Branded items are no longer just used for advertising – they are starting conversations, setting trends, and creating community.


It seems like everyone is coming out with their own custom merch line these days, including social influencers, podcasters, athletes and fast food chains or casual dining companies.


Let’s dive into some of the latest food companies who’s merch has had a major moment this year:


Baskin Robbins, famous for giving us 31 delicious flavors of ice cream for over 75 years, is the latest food company to announce they are launching a line of branded merchandise. This launch comes with an entire brand refresh that includes updates to the logo, employee uniform, packaging and even a new tagline: Seize the Yay. Baskin Robbins new collection of customized merch will include apparel, skateboards and bikes – coming soon here: https://shopbaskinrobbins.com/


Another restaurant who has been slowly transforming into more of a lifestyle brand is Chipotle. They offer custom apparel with everything from t-shirts to jackets to socks to baby clothes all at: https://chipotlegoods.com/. They are even using avocado pits to dye some of the branded merchandise to a neutral pinkish color, taking sustainability to a new level!


You may have heard of the Justin Bieber / Tim Hortons collab back a few months ago. Not only did they brand a special meal, but also paired it with a limited line of customized merch that sold out QUICK! Tim Horton’s parent group Restaurant Brands International reported a 10.3% increase at stores during the 4th quarter of 2021, during the same time period it introduced the Biebs line. Developed to offset revenue decreases from the pandemic, Restaurant Brands International CEO Jose Cil said that the promotion was "one of the more successful traffic-driving initiatives in recent memory, and outperformed internal expectations," according to CNN.


One month ago, Chili’s restaurant introduced their newest branded merchandise shop for their 47th birthday: https://welcometochilis.com/ According to FSR Magazine, the company said, “We’ve got all of the essentials covered with everything from trendy tees to functionally fabulous fanny packs, pool floats perfect for pampering and more, ranging from $10 to $60.”Chili’s has dipped their toe with online custom merch in the past, but this year they’ve entered the e-commerce space diving in headfirst.


Where do promo products and customized merch go from here?

It's safe to say branded merch is not going away – in fact it’s not a new concept and has been around forever. However, we believe it will continue to grow and evolve as more and more companies step into the e-commerce space.  

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