As we enter 2023, now is the time to begin merchandise planning for the year. As you look at your 2023 budgets, consider your promotional merchandise strategies for the whole year. By looking at the big picture of all your events, campaigns, and employee gifting programs you can save money, find efficiencies, and often get better merch because you’re buying at a bigger scale (even upping quantities from 50 to 100 units can open up a whole new category of products for example).
Eco-conscious branded merch
Include branded merch with a zero-waste or carbon-neutral theme. For companies with sustainability and environmental values, this is a great way to showcase your brand’s ethics to others. Make a list of all places you’ll want custom merch. These include employee boarding, client attraction, client appreciation, events, and milestone or holiday gifts.
Showcase your organization’s dedication to sustainability and social responsibility with these zero-waste branded merch ideas from our lookbook:
- Reusable straws (made from stainless steel, bamboo, or aluminum)
- Reusable produce, snack, or kitchen storage bags (of cotton, neoprene, rePETe, or Supernatural Paper™)
- Eco tote or reusable bags
To ensure that the merch you select reflects your brand goals, here are six steps to creating awesome merch kits.
When new employees join your team, welcome them with a gift of branded merchandise they can use. This welcome kit will showcase your brand and get them pumped for their new gig. It will also act as an introduction to your brand so they can familiarize themselves with your brand and values.
Surprise each new employee with a small basket of goodies at their desk for their first day. The “typical” branded pens, mugs and notebooks are always useful. If you plan to gift other more personal items like branded shirts or apparel, we suggest setting up an online merch shop for your new hires to select the size and style they prefer.
Some great ideas for new employee merch include:
- S’well Drinkware: We love S’well drinkware because they’re a fellow B Corp that designs beautiful, sustainable, and stylish reusable products. They fuse form and function to make “doing the right thing a crave-worthy experience.”
- Custom Socks: Custom stocks are great for brands who like to have fun. They come in many styles and can include your logo or brand elements for a truly unique sock-wearing experience. The Art of Custom Socks EBook digs into all your options that go with ordering custom socks.
- Reusable ClearPad: Made by Powerstick, this reusable notepad comes with a chalk marketer and is erasable like a whiteboard. We love Powerstick because they make great products with in-house (not outsourced) staff, and the company has a strong focus on their safety certifications.
Are you looking for more inspiration for banded merch for existing staff or new hires? Check out these seven tips for making new hires feel awesome.
Look at your 2023 trade show attendance schedule and ensure you have enough merch for these events. You can always reorder later if you need more or try these alternate gifting ideas to replace conference swag.
Be mindful and purchase more ‘evergreen’ merch when possible. Evergreen merchandise are promo items that are not tied to a particular campaign or event but can be used anytime. This helps eliminate so much wasted product that you end up throwing away when a specific campaign is over. While it might be tempting to put a date or an event logo on the merch, doing so means you can’t re-use it.
(If you have old merch like vinyl banners, you can also consider upcycling them into new items like bags. Learn about 9+ Sustainable Ways to Upcycle Vinyl Banners and Billboards)
Here are some unique B Corp trade show gifting ideas:
- Recycled material tote bags
- Organic Lip Balm
- Snack grab bags
- Recycled Pocket Notebooks
- Recycled chopstick coaster set from Chop Value
- An Ocean Bottle reusable water bottle
- Any of these trade show accessories are sure to steal the show!
Annual appreciation gifts
Here’s our expert tip, plan your 2023 annual holiday corporate gifting now. Order your holiday gifting now, so you’re not left stressing over merch ordering deadlines next Winter.
Don’t forget that your annual gifting doesn’t have to happen in December. You can often get better deals on merch if you order and ship them at other, less busy times of the year. In 2023, instead of sending out holiday thank-you gifts to your VIP customers, give them an annual appreciation gift in the summer or better yet fall, when many people are working on next year’s budget (it’s a great prompt to make sure they include your product or service in the budget).
Here are some annual gifting ideas that your customers will appreciate:
- Upcycled merch: Take old merch from past campaigns and turn them into something new. When you upcycle things like vinyl banners, billboards, old branded jackets and clothing, you save them from landfills and give them new life. Upcycled products should include a small tag that explains the origin of the upcycled materials to the recipient.
- Merch that represents your brand values: For example, read how Love the Ravines created hang-tags with non-invasive seeds embedded in the paper. The idea is that their recipients can hand the tags on trees, and when they break down, they release seeds into the earth to grow. This is an excellent idea to include as part of a gift basket and is very on-brand for their organization which aims to protect natural landscapes.
What’s your 2023 merch strategy?
Now is the time to get started. Check out our Fairware lookbooks today to find your inspiration. Then, contact us and we’ll help fulfill your merch needs for the year.
From all of us at Fairware and our outstanding suppliers and partners, we wish you and your family a safe and happy holiday season and a positive start to 2023.