Does branded merchandise buy customer loyalty?

I recently ordered a pair of shoes from a friend’s online shop. When I opened the package I was greeted by a branded trolley token.

As a junior designer I remember being handed a merchandise catalogue that said — your company logo here and being told to brand various items up! Fast forward fifteen years and it seems that companies are still buying the same old stuff.

I have a friend who is a National Sales Manager in the building trade, he travels the country handing out what he calls a ‘boot full of crap’. In the last year he has given my children a wind up torch, two bendy pencils and a clock/desk tidy which doesn’t keep the time. What does merchandise like this say about his company? Does a bendy pencil make a client think “Wow, how innovative, I’m going to award you that £6m contract”.

At home we have a pen draw and in it lives a diverse population of pens and pencils. A veritable melting pot of ink and graphite, all have company names on them and yet I never stop and look down the side to see who sent it to me. So am I saying that all branded merchandise is a waste of time?

Well everybody likes free stuff, but my pal is more likely to generate more shoe sales because of his great product range, service and cost, not because his company name appears on a naff trolley token. His give away will very shortly become defunct anyway. The supermarkets near me are phasing out the need for a pound coin as they are deemed a barrier to their customers.

And that’s my point really, branded merchandise needs to be relevant. It can be a great tool to support and create awareness of a company, but why do marketers waste budget by putting their mark on golf umbrellas, pens or on the latest piece of mass produced plastic to leave China?

Keep handing out the same old irrelevant stuff and the only person it will impress is my 6 year old daughter who thinks Uncle Alan’s presents are amazing. But somehow I don’t think she is the target market.

www.makecomplexsimple.co.uk/blog/

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