Branded Merchandise Trends Emerging as of Result COVID-19

As various countries begin the process of reopening their communities, consumers are slowly starting to feel more comfortable with venturing into the world that exists beyond their front door. Retailers are taking note and gearing up to meet demand, but are they doing so in a way that meets consumers’ new expectations?

Products with Purpose

With many communities being crushed by the effects of COVID-19, the growing trend of shopping local and supporting small businesses is more important than ever. Consumer expectations are seemingly simple: they want to know the story behind their purchases.

“Where was this made and how were the materials sourced? Am I supporting a business with purpose?”

These are all questions that not just retailers, but also the branded merchandise community, are preparing to respond to.

Within the branded merchandise sector, programs will trend to include more meaningful partnerships and products. From sustainability and giveback initiatives to localized programs that support specific communities, branded merchandise will have a more purpose-filled future.

Imagine your next promotional product including a hang tag that explains the sourcing of the product and the giveback program the purchase supports. This is very likely to be a part of the future of branded merchandise.

Health & Safety Items

For the foreseeable future, cleanliness and safety products are also on trend, along with branded merchandise that eases the shift into the new normal. There will always be a place for hospital-grade PPE, but for the branded merchandise community, there is an opportunity to gain market share and drive safety by offering cloth face masks, gloves, antimicrobial tools, and more to individual consumer groups. We’re already seeing this happen today.

Consumers are more drawn to products when they can relate to them and when they add interest to their daily lives. Branded merchandise has the opportunity to meet that need with endless potential to augment style and brand. Face coverings supporting your favorite sports team or charity. Sani-bars that give back to your alma mater. Branded pieces that aid in the re-entering of public spaces like face shields and germ-free key tools. Branding everyday – and increasingly essential – items in this way creates a voice for consumers on a personal level.

At-Home Experiences

Despite parts of the world beginning to re-open, at-home experiences are still a vital part of today’s consumer journey. With mailboxes and doorsteps being key destinations for many right now, it’s no surprise that monthly subscriptions and mailed kits are having a moment. This moment isn’t necessarily new, but it’s continuing to grow as brands who traditionally haven’t invested in direct mail explore new ways to connect.

Branded merchandise has a role to play in this. From activities for kids, pets, fitness, gardening, art, relationship cultivation and so much more, there are a number of opportunities to explore. Branded merchandise that meets consumers where they are in this case, at home contributes to a positive experience while driving brand affinity and loyalty.

What’s Next?

COVID-19 is having a dramatic effect on the way we approach and experience the world. For almost everyone, this is our first time experiencing something with both an immediate and global impact, and it’s influencing consumer behavior at all levels. Branded merchandise is doing its part to meet consumers where they are with an opportunity to focus on sustainability and forge new supply chain transparency, elevate health and safety, and create positive in-home experiences.

Looking to keep your branded merchandise program on trend? Connect with us today.

Kathleen Lenchner

Director, Client Engagement & Merchandise Strategy