RESTAURANT MERCH: Expand your brand with custom apparel
We’ve talked about apparel before; however, this blog is not about staff uniforms or give-away hats. This blog is about the trending product that builds brands almost as fast as hand sanitizer is selling out. Restaurant merch.
For the big players, branded apparel draws on its nostalgic appeal. Retro logos and characters from childhood campaigns. They also play on their universal brand recognition – they’re less about drawing new customers than giving their fan-base a uniform. Smaller establishments can capitalize on their restaurant’s often-unique theme and feel. And give their loyal, local following another way to represent beyond word-of-mouth. Read on to see why it’s a good idea for your brand.
A reminder of the experience
Like tourists buying souvenirs from the destinations they’ve visited, transient diners can purchase a memento of their experience. They can take your brand with them and advertise it to a new group of potential customers. The good food and great time they enjoyed will be remembered whenever they see or wear that item.
For regulars, perhaps it was where they had their first date, where they celebrated a milestone birthday or where their family ate for lunch each Sunday. Eating together is proven to build strong connections, just as clothes are proven to be potent memory objects. Let your customers take a physical reminder of their experience with them and share the love for years to come.
Support their favourite brands
Just like musos buy merch to support their favourite bands, so too do foodies buy products to show their support of their best-loved eatery. As displayed particularly in the next example.
US restaurant, Arby’s, has provided its fans a subscription package that delivers a box of Arby’s merchandise to subscribers’ doors every month. The restaurant has a large following on social media, driven by their ‘fellow fan’ marketing philosophy. It is one that celebrates and joins in on what their diners love, making them feel understood and appreciated without being told what to like. Fans were keen to get a hold of the exclusive restaurant merch. The subscriptions sold out in under an hour.
For a great restaurant “too much of a good thing” does not exist. Patrons can eat multiple times a week at the same spot because they love the product. You can give them more to love for the times they can only daydream about your food.
For big and for small
Small takeaways and corner shops often have the most dedicated following. How good is your neighbourhood’s chip shop or your suburb’s up-and-coming small franchise? We can name a few outstanding local eateries with reputations their diners would fight over. It’s not surprising that frequently returning customers relish the chance to represent their favourite restaurant. Word-of-mouth recommendations work well, and so do promotional products.
A shirt, as promotional apparel, has space for a big print (visible from further away) and is worn by a substantial percentage of the world’s population. 80% of people in the US own at least one promotional t-shirt. This amounts to the second highest number of impressions of all promotional products – 3,400 impressions across its average life. One shirt will expose your brand to 3,400 potential customers. The cost of just one of these impressions is two tenths of a cent. Affordable, yes?
You don’t have to be the Hard Rock Café to expand your brand to include apparel. The story behind the now-iconic shirt is that after three years of successful business, the café sponsored a local soccer team. As a sponsor, Hard Rock’s logo was printed on the front of the team’s shirt. The extra shirts were returned to the store and given away to customers. That Hard Rock Café shirt soon became a thing and there were more people coming in to buy one than eat at the café. Now it’s an international brand with venues, stores, museums and accommodation everywhere.
How to do restaurant merch successfully
Unless your brand has a long history with a cool vintage design, creating promotional apparel that looks like your uniform will just make things confusing for your staff and customers. Instead consider choosing stand-out and contemporary artwork that fits your brand. Go with something dark edgy to match the urban feel of your inner-city restaurant. For a bright and sunny fro-yo spot, go with bright and sunny colours. Look to local artists and the trends of your demographic. For some brilliant Australian examples, see this article by the Gourmet Traveller.
You don’t have to be confined to shirts, though. How about a thick and cozy hoodie for patrons of your near-campus coffee shop? Sports-fabric tees for your juice joint or leather vests for your biker bar. Loafers for your bakery, whatever. Knowing your clientele makes the decision of what to go with much easier. Just give the people what they want, your brand will be all the stronger for it.
You can deliver more than takeaway to your customers while they’re safe inside. Contact Impact today to see how great your brand looks on apparel.