16 January 2024

Merch is back as the 'power of touch' takes over our digital world

| Katrina Condie
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Tiled image showing custom promo products

Everyone wants to get their hands on some `merch’. Photo: BrandPro.

In a world where just about everything is digital, branded merchandise is making a comeback as people race to get their hands on all kinds of stuff.

According to marketing expert, James Willson from CRE8IVE, “merch is back”.

“Over the past few years, everything has been digitised. People have been interacting in a digital world,” he said.

“Now that everything has opened up again, people want to have something they can touch, that’s tangible.

“The power of touch is simple, and for business and events, merch offers a great marketing opportunity.”

James said the power of merch was the “keep me factor” and a reminder of a life experience.

“Ten or 15 years ago, people wanted things like mouse mats, but the quality of merch has gone up exponentially,” he said.

People love to get their hands on merch for use in the office or home, with the kitchen the number one location for promotional products.

According to the Promotional Products Association International (PPAI) nine out of 10 consumers recalled the branding on promotional products they received.

With the demand for quality merch on the rise, Canberra company BrandNet has launched its custom merchandising wing BrandPro and is set to expand on its successful military, emergency service and charity projects.

BrandPro managing director Stephen Davie said the new branch was launched to provide promotional merchandise specifically for corporate clients and small businesses in Canberra and surrounds.

“A lot of organisations have been enquiring about promotional products because they can choose items that will connect with their customers and provide that long-lasting experience,” Stephen said.

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“It’s not just the recipient that takes effect from the branding. Their friends, family and people who see them using the product do as well.

“As far as bang for your buck goes, merch is very effective.”

He said as people were being “bombarded” with digital advertising on the web and social media, businesses were looking for real-life advertising alternatives.

“The point of difference now is people like tactile products, and things that are useful and helpful,” Stephen said.

“Putting branding on those products is a very effective way to build a relationship with your community, whether that’s a small business, all the way through to government departments. In all cases, there’s great value in merch.”

Stephen said from government outreach campaigns to events, creations that resonated with people was key.

“Whether that’s giving away products by the thousands, like stickers for children, or more elaborate products that people use in their office or home, merch is a great way of engaging with any age group.”

Branded promo products for Epilepsy ACT: Ribbon, keyring, bracelet, cuddly toys and USB card.

The BrandPro team has designed and created a range of merch for the Epilepsy Association. Photo: BrandPro.

BrandPro branch manager Caris Ebeling said merch could vary from tech gadgets such as USBs and phone chargers to lanyards, compendiums, notebooks and clothing or fun items such as frisbees to useful everyday products including sunscreen and hand sanitiser.

“Every organisation, whether a not-for-profit, school, government department or small business, uses promotional products to some extent,” she said.

As a local Canberra owned and operated business with a 30-year standing in the community, BrandPro offered in-house design, quality products and competitive pricing superior to online purchases from overseas companies, according to Stephen.

“We see ourselves as a marketing agency that understands the customer’s brand and who their audience is,” he said.

“We’re not just selling them a product, we’re selling them a marketing tool and assisting them through the process to tailor products that are going to work for them.

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“Organisations that are going to invest in promotional products really need to do their homework to ascertain how those products will resonate with their customers and how they will work for people.”

Prior to launching BrandPro, the BrandNet team has created marketing materials for Constable Kenny the Koala, a prominent and well-received figure within the ACT community for three decades, as well as the Epilepsy Association’s community engagement initiatives including the Walk for Epilepsy event and Purple Day.

BrandNet has provided brand development and enhancement strategies for thousands of clients, including all levels of government, charities, community organisations, national sporting bodies, and police and emergency services.

“We have worked with and continue to work with some of Australia’s most trusted and influential brands,” Stephen said.

“BrandPro is an extension of what we have been doing successfully in Canberra for 30 years.”

The new BrandPro showroom at 65 Kembla Street, Fyshwick has plenty of products on display for the Canberra business, sporting and events community to check out, and the expert team is waiting to help design merch that will work for you.


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