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Enhancing the Music Festival Brand with Merchandise.  

Andy Robertson

Music festival branding is playing an increasingly important role in an organisation's success. Festival branding encompasses numerous aspects from committed loyal staff, great line-ups, exceptional customer service and festival-goer experience. Once these building blocks are in place the festival brand can be enhanced with merchandise.

A music festival's brand can take years to build and requires commitment from all involved to achieve the desired reputation along with a sense of desirability. A strong brand instils trust in the festival and the organiser's ability to put on a quality event. Whether organisers are in the process of building their event brand from scratch or as part of an established festival, using appropriate merchandise can enhance this as well as providing an additional revenue stream.

Merchandise Selection. 
The merchandise on offer by many festival organisations is still limited to basic T-shirts and little more. Building a good selection of merchandise items does not mean that the festival logo can be printed on anything, it has to be relevant to the event. Clothing and apparel are always popular with festival-goers and can be sold year-round. Event specific utilities like water bottles, sunglasses and hats can be popular for the festival live dates. It is possible to build a vast merchandise selection but it requires planning and careful consideration for ‘brand fit’.

When sourcing merchandise it is vital to obtain quality items that reflect the brand perception. A high-priced quality event would offer high quality merchandise and organisers should avoid ordering cheap low quality items mass produced in China with their logo slapped on it. Consider locally sourced and manufactured items which support the local economy and employment. There are also numerous apparel suppliers in Europe and North America who have manufacturing bases in Africa or Indonesia but with strict quality control checks and an emphasis on fair trade. 

Sales Channels. 
Most festival merchandise is sold via online stores and this ensures year-round sales, however, a substantial number of merchandise sales revenue should be obtained by dedicated on-site sales during the event's live dates. Where possible organisers should select a good location for their merch pitch and ensure that it is professionally constructed and meets the festival's brand image.

It is possible to offer hundreds of branded merchandise items but this requires management of stock, suppliers, payments and returns. Analysing sales and profit margins on any items sold will dictate the future direction on what to focus on and items that do not sell well. If there are any returns of items or complaints these need to be handled quickly and efficiently to avoid any detrimental impact on the brand image. When launching any new merchandise line, it may be worth testing this on a smaller select audience to judge feedback to ensure that it meets the customer's expectations of the brand.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering. 

Photo by MART PRODUCTION via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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