Why Restaurant Merch Is the Most Effective Marketing Tool

restaurant merchandise white bag orange logo

Why Restaurant Merch Is the Most Effective Marketing Tool

As restaurants continue to explore new revenue streams in an ever-changing environment, restaurant merchandise is stealing the limelight as an innovative, fun product that does wonders to your bottom line.

Besides, everyone could use a little fun this summer. Helping patrons and staff look and feel good with useful restaurant merch is the best way to boost spirits.

Table of Contents

4 Fun Facts about Promotional Restaurant Merch

Before we dive into what restaurant merch can do for your bottom line, here are 5 fun facts about swag in general.

  1. It is estimated that over 25 billion dollars will be spent in 2021 on physical promotional merchandise.
  2. US businesses invest almost 3 times as much in promotional products than they do in online marketing. 
  3. Promo merchandise has a longer lasting impact (recall, recognition, awareness…) than online, print and television advertising. 
  4. According to a PPM report, the most effective and in demand promo merchandise of 2020 were healthcare items (mainly branded masks), apparel and drinkware. 

Higher Bottom Line & Increased Brand Awareness

If you’re doing any marketing for your restaurant, you probably already have branded items like to-go packaging and napkins. These single-use items generate some brand visibility. But that’s nothing compared to the impact multi-use restaurant merch delivers. 

Quality merchandise can generate tremendous ancillary revenue streams and up-selling opportunities. Fun and unique merchandising allows the customer to engage with the restaurant beyond the dining experience. 

Restaurant merchandise partnered with good artwork that isn’t solely logo-driven holds added value for the customer. Keeping fresh, innovative products creates a collectibility that keeps people buying. In short, restaurant merchandise is one of the most effective ways to directly impact your restaurant’s cash flow and increase profit. 

As for marketing benefits, restaurant merchandise helps increase brand visibility, awareness and recognition. These lead to higher engagement with your brand and ultimately, customer loyalty. Examples of restaurant merch include shirts, hats, mugs and bottle openers. When a customer uses them, at home or outside, it imprints positive thoughts about your restaurant on anyone who sees it. 

Creative and quality restaurant merch is also an effective tool to boost team spirit, promote bonding and increase staff loyalty. Especially in face of the current restaurant staff labor crisis, staff loyalty is an important asset.

Make Dining at Your Restaurant a Night to Remember

How to create memorable dining experiences for diners while also making the most of upselling opportunities? 

  • Display Case & Staff – Find a visible spot to display your swag. If you’ve made apparel, get some of your staff to wear them around the restaurant. 
  • Raffles – Run a raffle for high value merch items a few nights a week. While winners will get it for free, other diners will be incentivized to purchase.
  • Newsletters – Don’t forget to advertise your top merchandise items on periodic newsletters and display them in your online e-commerce store. If you haven’t got one, Inkmule can handle that for you. 
  • Events – Birthdays and events are great opportunities to giveaway and sell restaurant merch. 

Great Restaurant Merch Examples

restaurant merch blue coffee cup on blue plate on wood coaster and plastic golden branch

Excellent restaurant swag is both tasteful and useful. At Cheetah we love outfitting our team with deliciously unique digs. That’s why we use a merch management agency called Inkmule

Here are some fun and practical branded merchandise ideas for your restaurant.  

  • The Fanny Pack is Back! Great pouch that’s good for an outing in the city or a hike in the woods. Slipping a ‘1+1 on your next visit’ promo card inside is a surefire way to generate return traffic. 
  • Drinkware – An elegant set of branded wine glasses or funky hiking water bottles..
  • Bottle Opener Keychain – Bottle opener keychains – great for subconscious reminders of your brand.

Getting Started With Restaurant Merchandise

Keep these tips in mind when setting out to create your restaurant’s merchandise plan.

  • Stay on brand – Make sure to mention that you’re a restaurant. For example “Phoebe’s” doesn’t mean much, but “Phoebe’s Fusion Nibbles” is a whole other story. 
  • Keep it useful – something customers would love to take home and actually use. Food and drink related? Even better! 
  • Design expert artwork – Convey your message in a creative and fun way. The design process should be exciting for you and your staff. 
  • The right supplier – Only work with reliable suppliers that take the time to understand your business and craft the message that will speak to the hearts (and stomachs) of your customers. 

Best Merchandise Management Company for Restaurants

Managing the forecasting, inventory and storage of swag is not an easy task. That’s why businesses turn to Inkmule, a merchandise management company that makes your life easy and lets you focus on your business. 

At Cheetah we use Inkmule to handle all our merchandise needs. We love the results so much that we’ve outfitted all Cheetah team members with our swag, in the office and on the road. Check out some of Inkmule’s best products on Instagram.

Inkmule really stands out from the crowd of merch companies. They understand that for a product to have an impact, it needs to be both useful and of high quality. Not all products are created equal and Inkmule are great at guiding restaurant operators to budget friendly options that won’t end up in the thrift store or landfill.

Lots of operators who are new to restaurant merchandising hit a roadblock when building out a merch program. Inkmule’s team of experts comes in very handy here, too. By offering items at multiple price points, they enable customers who aren’t ready to spend $20 on a t-shirt to get a $10 mug or a $3 can cooler, for example. This approach allows patrons to engage with the brand more freely and restaurants to move product and generate profit.

Rather than fixate on cheap merch, Inkmule are focused on quality restaurant merchandise that sells. Here’s how they do it. 

  • Understand your brand and pitch great design ideas that communicate that. 
  • Manage data and analyse sales while constantly making sure pricing is relevant.
  • Forecast supply and handle the logistics and materials quality, making sure that you are never out of that seasonal cookbook or specialty christmas mug. 
  • Set up and manage an e-commerce online store for your merchandise.
  • Fulfill online orders – You don’t need to deal with another delivery service. 
  • Store your surplus swag.
  • Flexible to suit your needs, they do not require minimum orders and don’t bind you to long term contracts.

Cheetah Customers Get More from Inkmule!

When Cheetah customers sign up for the Cheetah Plus program they get a welcome kit made by Inkmule. 

Cheetah Plus members that buy Inkmule merchandise also get 10% back in credit to use the next time they buy supplies from Cheetah.

Get More from Inkmule

Want your restaurant to feature epic restaurant merch with the help of Inkmule?
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