For 2022, custom merchandise kits are trending big amongst company teams, brand culture fanatics and new hires. With this guide, we’ll show you how to create a memorable merchandise experience that reflects your brand and your program goals. Follow Fairware’s 6 steps to build your own custom merch kit. 6 STEPS TO AWESOME MERCH KITS
3 Holiday Merchandise Kit - Thinkific - Connect and Relax 2022.
S T E P # 1
OUR MOST COMMON KITS:
EMPLOYEE ON-BOARDING A welcome box for new hires to make them feel part of the team from day one.
VIRTUAL EVENTS & PARTIES We’re seeing more and more folks host online events and provide a curated gift box as a post event than you or a pre-event primer.
acquisition, on-boarding, and retention journey. Merch drops along your client journey will shift your merchandise program from an ad hoc nice-to-have to a strategic part of our sales cycle. DONOR ACQUISITION & RETENTION Using the same strategic focus of the private sector and their ‘customer journey’ strategies, non-profits are increasingly using their merchandise programs to engage donors along their journey of support.
It’s important to start with the big picture. If you understand the purpose of the kit and the audience, we’ll be able to curate the right collection of goods. There are many question’s we can ask, but they’re all based on who, what, and why - and leave the how up to us. Knowing who the recipients are and the experience you want them to feel will set the tone for the rest of the project. You can get inspiration from our Lookbook Collections.
NEW BRAND & PRODUCT LAUNCH
HOLIDAY & MILESTONE CELEBRATION GIFT BOXES
A custom merch collection showcasing a re-brand, new product or campaign launch to build excitement and buy-in from your team, partners and clients. CLIENT OR LEAD GENERATION We build custom merchandise programs that follow your customer
For year end celebrations, key holidays or when the team or staff person hits a significant milestone.
Water Conservation Kit for City Residents. A how to guide on local water restrictions and tips for conserving water during summer season.
Zero-Waste Package - City of Abbostford - Promote Water Conservation 2019.
THE PLAN Once you have your strategy mapped out, it’s onto the planning stage. Key considerations here include timelines, quantities, and scope of project. S T E P # 2
FREQUENCY Will your merchandise kits be a one time program, or do you want to have an annual drop, or have inventory on hand to use on demand? QUANTITY As a general rule, our kits start at 50 units, but we can consider smaller projects on a case-by-case basis. SIZING & SHIPPING SOLUTIONS You’ll also need to consider whether you will be collecting sizing in advance and whether you’ll be shipping to main offices or to individual homes. And will
the kits ship internationally or domes - tically - or both?
The most common budgets we see for kits (before shipping):
$30-$50 – A good entry point, think notebook, pen and water bottle or a coffee mug and socks. $50-$100 – Lots of room for fun surprises – think a stainless-steel travel mug and coffee from a local roaster, a hoody and a sticker pack. $100-$300 – Premium bespoke merch, think Patagonia, MiiR, a cozy blanket or local artisan gift.
Our online ‘pop-up’ shops can help collect sizing and ensure recipients opt in to sharing their addresses for home delivery. BUDGETS The final thing to consider is budget . There are three main costs associated with merch kits; the products; the packaging and the shipping. Make sure to plan for all three (shipping can add significantly to the project).
Online Pop-Up Shop - The Rockefeller Foundation - Staff Gifting 2022.
S T E P # 3
This is the fun part! Now that you have a strategy and a plan, it’s time to think about the product. If you are going to do custom merchandise, do it right. Ensure it reflects your brand and your commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
A FEW TIPS:
• Tell the story of the products so recip - ients know how it was sourced. This is a great opportunity to educate your team about your values.
• Make the merchandise useful and make it nice – don’t send merch that will end up in the landfill or the sec - ond-hand store.
• Consider using design and bold state - ments instead of just your logo.
• Watch out for ceramics and glass, they’re heavy to ship and can break.
• If you’re doing apparel, use our pop- up shops to let staff choose their own gender/size. • Give people a choice! Consider asking people if they want merch and allow - ing them to opt out. You could give an option to donate in lieu of merch.
Custom Enamel Pins - LUSH Cosmetics
Cotton T-Shirt and Imprint - LUSH Cosmetics - SXSW Activation 2020.
THE PACKAGING S T E P # 4
Packaging for merch kits can range from fully custom boxes and tissue paper to a simple kraft mailer with a custom label. When designing your packaging, its the receivers expe - rience you’ll be considering - these choices will help you communicate your purpose and message you want to convey.
• Decide whether you want any fill in the box – we can use kraft crinkle, scrunched paper, etc to take up any space and ensure minimum movement in transit. • Custom boxes are amazing – but can get a bit beat up during shipping. If you don’t need the wow factor of a fully custom mailer, consider a kraft mailer with a custom label, it’s a super cost-effective way to package while getting a bit of branding.
• Add a postcard or letter to the recipient so they know why they’ve received the gift. • Custom tissue paper is a low-cost way to make the unboxing experience special. • Be wary of over packaging – no one wants their gift to result in waste materials. • If you’re going to be doing boxes in an ongoing manner, consider custom packing tape – super fun way to get a brand message out.
Fully Custom Kitting Box - Ben & Jerry’s - Influencer Kits “Work Your Core.”
17 Custom Kitting Box’s & Pop-Up Shop - Vancity - 75th Anniversary 2021/2022.
S T E P # 5
THE DISTRIBUTION Okay, the merchandise is decided on and you’re ready to roll. Here’s what you need to consider when it comes to distribution and getting the merch kits to your people.
DESTINATION Are your recipients domestic (all USA, all Canada) or will kits have to cross borders? International shipments add time and money (for duties and brokerage), knowing this early will help us calculate expenses up front and flag any potential concerns concerning shipping certain items across borders. PRODUCT VARIABLES Do you have apparel or are you giving recipients the choice to opt in? If so, using a pop-up shop so recipients can choose their size and gender, or whether to receive a gift at all is a good way to go. Pop Up shops also allow recipients to opt in to receiving goods at their home address, ensuring compliance with privacy
add a ‘lag time’ between when we close the pop-up shop and consolidate orders and when they get the kit, there may also be risks with inventory running out while we wait for the team to choose their gift. With generic kits , we can decorate the merchandise right away so when orders close, the kits are ready to ship. In situ - ations where we wait for sizing, we can only go into production after the shop closes. We have email communications to keep recipients up to date, but in the world of next-day delivery, it’s important to note this model can add an additional 4 weeks to project timelines. If you want more details on the logistics, check out our guide to kitting and drop shipping.
legislation. One note, we recommend ordering an overage of 5-10% to allow for those folks who ‘forgot’ to order or who ordered the wrong size.
TIMING Do you have the lead time for a
merchandise program? Once you have your strategy and plan in place and we’ve narrowed the merchandise collection (this can take 1-4+ weeks depending on decision-makers), standard production timelines are 3-4 weeks and kitting adds 1-2 weeks. Add in 1-2 weeks for ground shipping and a typical timeline is 6-10 weeks for a custom merch drop. KITTING OPTIONS One last consideration. If you’re letting your recipient ‘choose’ a kit or a size , it will
THE REVIEW S T E P # 6 You made it! Follow this guide and you’re chances of creating an amazing custom merchandise kits have just skyrocketed. Once the kit is out, don’t forget to debrief how it went. Did you get the engagement you hoped for, do people love the merchandise, did the process go smoothly? Documenting any bottlenecks or issues along with what worked will help your second merch drop shine. We’re always working on Case Studies, Lookbooks, and Ebooks to keep you informed and inspired. View them at fairware.com to discover the why and the how behind our projects.
If you have questions, or want to learn more about starting your own project:
GET IN TOUCH
Examples of Custom Sticker Labels on Kraft Box and Fully Customized Box.
No one else does promotional merchandise quite like we do.
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