In the world of business, it’s not uncommon for companies to venture beyond their traditional offerings to explore new revenue streams. One such strategy that has proven successful for many businesses, from entertainment giants to influencers, is the sale of branded merchandise. This strategy has been employed by companies like Disney and Netflix, rock bands like KISS, and even influencers like my former neighbor and pet-sitter. They are known for one thing, but they’ve managed to grow their loyal followers and their revenue by offering merchandise.
The Power of Merchandising
Merchandising is a powerful tool for brand expansion and revenue growth. It allows companies to monetize their brand and deepen their connection with their audience. When fans wear or use merchandise from their favorite brand, they’re not just consumers; they become walking advertisements, promoting the brand to everyone they encounter.
Disney, for example, is renowned for its movies, theme parks, and even it cruise lines, but it also generates significant revenue from its merchandise. From clothing and toys to home decor and collectibles, Disney’s merchandise appeals to a broad audience, from children to adults who are young at heart, resulting in $56.2 Billion in additional revenue. Similarly, Netflix, while primarily a streaming service, has capitalized on the popularity of its original shows by offering related merchandise through its online store at https://www.netflix.shop.
American rock band Kiss has licensed its name to more than 3,000 product categories, from lunch boxes and comic books to credit cards and condoms, becoming nearly a one-billion-dollar brand. It is said that Kiss has more pieces of merchandise and has generated more money from merchandise than any other artist in the history of music.
You don’t have to be a big brand in order to create your own line of merchandise. As I mentioned, my former pet-sitter Brooke Monk has become an influencer by posting short-form videos on TikTok and YouTube. She now sells her own line of merchandise at https://brookemonkmerch.com/. Many smaller musicians, entertainers, authors, speakers, and other creative types have found that as much as 85% of their revenue can come from creating their own Merchandise. Retailers that typically just resell products from other manufacturers may find that adding their own line of products can have a significant impact on their revenue.
Even companies that aren’t traditionally associated with merchandise have found success in this area. Service companies, food companies, manufacturers, and others have all discovered the benefits of offering branded merchandise. It’s a strategy that can work for any business with a strong brand and a loyal customer base.
There are many companies and individuals across various industries that sell merchandise as a way to diversify their income and strengthen their brand. Here are some examples:
- Tech Companies: Many tech companies, especially those with a strong brand following, sell merchandise. For example, Apple sells branded clothing and accessories at its company store in Cupertino, California. Google also has a merchandise store selling everything from clothing to office supplies.
- Fast Food Chains: Companies like McDonald’s and In-N-Out Burger have their own line of merchandise. McDonald’s has even collaborated with popular artists like Travis Scott and BTS for limited-edition merchandise.
- Beverage Companies: Starbucks sells mugs, tumblers, and other merchandise in their stores around the world. Similarly, Coca-Cola has a vast array of branded merchandise. Corona beer has done well with this as well.
- Airlines: Many airlines sell merchandise, especially model airplanes and branded apparel. For example, Southwest Airlines has an online store selling everything from model planes to clothing and accessories.
- Automotive Companies: Car companies like Tesla and BMW sell branded merchandise ranging from clothing to miniature car models.
- Gyms and Fitness Companies: Companies like Peloton and CrossFit sell a range of merchandise including clothing, water bottles, and workout equipment.
- Software Companies: Some software companies, especially those with a strong user community, sell merchandise. For example, GitHub sells a variety of branded merchandise including clothing, stickers, and even octocat figurines.
- Music Streaming Services: Spotify sells merchandise including clothing and accessories. They also have a service where artists can sell their own merchandise directly on the platform.
- TV Networks: Networks like HBO sell merchandise related to their popular shows. For example, they sell Game of Thrones themed merchandise ranging from clothing to collectibles.
- Video Game Companies: Companies like Nintendo and PlayStation sell merchandise related to their popular games and consoles.
The Role of AI in Merchandise Design
So what does artificial intelligence have to do with creating branded merchandise? Can’t you just add a logo to a t-shirt and call it good? If you are famous, perhaps, but consider Costco trying to sell a “Kirkland Signature” t-shirt.. Would you buy this and wear it?
Personally, I’m not impressed and wouldn’t buy such an item (and might not even wear it if given to me as a promotion). But the process of creating branded merchandise has been revolutionized by the advent of artificial intelligence (AI). AI can analyze a company’s logo, color scheme, and other branding elements to generate designs for merchandise. It can also create personalized designs based on customer preferences or behavior, leading to products that are more likely to appeal to the target audience.
Consider this instead:
These were created with AI. AI can also assist in other areas of the merchandising process. It can be great for creating product names and writing product descriptions. AI can also be useful in marketing and selling your products once you create them. By leveraging AI, companies can create more appealing merchandise, manage their inventory more effectively, and ultimately sell more products.
The Age of Print-On-Demand
The rise of print-on-demand (POD) services has made it easier than ever for companies to offer branded merchandise. With POD, companies can offer a wide range of products without having to maintain a large inventory. Products are only created when a customer places an order, reducing waste and making the process more environmentally sustainable. Traditional printing methods often require large print runs, which can lead to excess inventory. If these products don’t sell, they end up as waste.
With POD, items are only printed as they are ordered, reducing the amount of waste produced. Overproduction not only leads to waste, but also uses more resources than necessary, such as water, energy, and raw materials. With POD, products are often shipped directly from the manufacturer to the customer, reducing the carbon footprint associated with transportation.
POD is particularly advantageous for companies where merchandising is not their primary revenue stream. It allows them to offer merchandise without the need for a significant upfront investment. It’s also a great option for smaller brands, singers, entertainers, and influencers who may not have the resources to produce and store large quantities of merchandise.
The Benefits of Merchandising for Smaller Brands
While merchandising is a strategy often associated with large companies, it can also be a great source of side revenue for smaller brands. Even if a brand doesn’t have a large customer base, offering merchandise can still be profitable. It allows smaller brands to monetize their loyal followers and provides an additional touchpoint to deepen their connection with their audience.
In today’s competitive business landscape, companies need to explore all potential revenue streams. Merchandising, powered by AI and facilitated by POD services, offers a promising opportunity for businesses of all sizes. Whether you’re an entertainment giant, a service company, a food company, a manufacturer, or an influencer, merchandising can help you grow your revenue and deepen your connection with your audience. Whether you are a house cleaning company, a well pump service (I chose those because I’ve actually created branded merchandise for those companies), a large corporation or an individual looking to create a side hustle, WebStores can help you in the following ways:
- Create branded merchandise for you, your employees, or customers
- Create AI-generated products you can sell on your website
- Help market your branded merch and list on common marketplaces including Amazon and Etsy
- Create an entire online store of AI-generated POD products specifically for you
- Teach you and your company how to implement these techniques yourself.
If you’re interested in leveraging AI and POD to grow your business through merchandising, consider enrolling in TheAIMoneyMachine.com program. It offers comprehensive guidance on how to use these powerful tools to your advantage. Even if this isn’t right for you at this time, if you know someone who might benefits from this, please forward this article to them.