5 tips to use merchandise for place marketing [TESTED]

by Basiel

Merchandise is a trending tool for a lot of cities and municipalities when it comes to place marketing. Most of the time, it's even a fixed part of their policy. Merchandise is the perfect method to highlight the identity of your city. Given this increasing importance, these tips are perfect to make your merchandise campaign successful.

Merchandise as one of the latest place marketing trends

5 tips for place marketing with merchandise:

1. Choose your strategy

Following the right strategy for a merchandise campaign is crucial for the progress of that campaign. You can't just put a box of T-shirts in the city center and hope that the clothes do their job. A campaign with custom clothing must be well organised in order to achieve the most effective result possible.

First, the right target group must be determined. Choose a specific target group that you want to reach with your campaign. This usually involves choosing between the 5 target groups of place marketing. Merchandise can be used in various ways to reach these target groups but keep in mind that each group must be approached differently.

Once you have decided which target group(s) your campaign is aimed at, it is time to set your goals. For example, do you want your inhabitants to be more proud of your city or do you want to attract more visitors to your city? For each target audience, you can create custom clothing to reach your objectives.

Ostend, a Belgian City, made their own custom sweaters and custom beanies to make their residents proud of their city.

Beanies of Ostend (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)

Next to beanies and sweaters, Ostend created custom socks as well. Those socks were given as a present with the purpose of attracting more visitors during winter to their city.

Socks of Ostend (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)

As you can see, merchandise can be used in a lot of different ways. It is up to you to decide which trump cards of your city you want to use and how you are going to do this.

2. Design creative designs

A merchandise campaign with simply T-shirts with the logo of your city, is often less successful. People choose clothes based on taste and prefer to wear a T-shirt with a cool design.

By being creative, you can create a lot of cool things. Knokke-Heist, for example, designed tote bags for their Valentine's Day campaign. Shoppers were given a tote bag instead of a plastic bag while shopping. The campaign received a lot of positive reactions, not only for the environmentally friendly aspect but most of all for the beautiful design on the tote bag.

In order to create this effect, it is advisable to hire a designer. Don't have a designer? We have a team of creative designers who can make a difference for you. Check our design service.


Tote bags of Knokke-Heist (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


3. Use qualitative products (very important)

When you invest money in custom clothing, you want people to wear it. A common mistake made is choosing for poor quality products. Most of the time, towns think that using a T-shirt of inferior quality will have the same results as using a high quality T-shirt. This will only lead to the opposite result.

Everyone has a pile of promo clothes in their closet that they would only wear to mow the grass or to paint a wall. By choosing quality merchandise, your shirts won't end up on this pile.

And of course, you don't want people to associate your city with bad merchandise either. By focusing on quality, you can turn your inhabitants, visitors, companies, students and investors into ambassadors. The custom clothing radiates everything about your city

So once again: you'll never regret quality!

4. Create an experience

When starting a place marketing campaign, you must always create an experience. Experience is a phenomenon that has recently been popping up everywhere. For example, the revival of the 4D films and VR that is gradually taking a spot in our society. These experiences can be extended to place marketing with merchandise.

The city of Roeselare knew better than any other city how to do this. During a campaign named '#VANRSL', they wanted to make their inhabitants proud of their city. They made a song named 'Wieder zin van Roeselare' (means: We are from Roeselare). The makers of the clip wanted to show how much fun it is to live in Roeselare.

The campaign achieved great successes and accomplished unprecedented results. Roeselare even won a prize at the Cannes Corporate Media and TV Awards in Cannes, also known as the Oscars of corporate films. The result of the song was that the inhabitants were very proud of their city. Therefore, they bought the merchandise massively that could be seen in the clip and in different campaigns.

Making sure that your target groups have a unique experience can produce better results. You don’t have to start writing a song about your city and record a video with merchandise. Small things can also be effective! For example, you could give some merchandise in a custom box. People love receiving presents and it’s amazing to see their faces light up when they open the box. Interested in a custom box with merchandise? We can help you!

Video of the campaign of Roeselare: 


When it comes to place marketing with custom clothes, it is important that you create a hype around your clothing. At tip 4 you read that experience is important in place marketing with merchandise. This could result in a campaign that is shared quite often but by only focussing on experience will never give you the best results possible. That’s why it’s important to focus on sharing too.

The more your campaign gets shared, the more people will see it. So make sure that your target group talks a lot about your campaign on social media and in real life. You can do this, for example, by introducing a hashtag. The city of Roeselare did this as well and launched #VANRSL, a hashtag that was widely used on social media. Because of this everyone knows that Roeselare is a vibrant city.

Next to this, merchandise also played an important role into this. Several photos with the T-shirts were spread on all kinds of social media channels. Finally, it is also a great way to continue monitoring, measuring and evaluating the campaign. More information about this campaign can be found here.


T-shirts of Roeselare (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)


5 tips to set up city marketing with merchandise:

  1. Choose your strategy
  2. Design creative designs
  3. Use quality products (!)
  4. Create an experience
  5. #SHARE

The best merchandise items for cities

Discover below the best merchandise items to boost your place marketing! 

The best merchandise items for cities (Place marketing, Merchandise Essentials)

Topics:Merchandise MarketingMarketingCitymarketing

About Merchandise Essentials

In 2015 Merchandise Essentials consisted out of two young guys with big dreams. Working out of their parents’ living room they started turning those dreams into goals.

The living room became a 600m2 office space with a showroom. The two man team turned into a workforce of more than 30 young and talented individuals who are now designing and producing merchandise for brands and businesses in 43 countries.


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