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Why Wearables Should Be Part of Your 2016 Marketing Plan

Opportunities to advertise your business are many and varied, ranging from traditional TV, radio, and newspaper to the Internet, direct mail, social media and more.  In this technological age, and from a marketing standpoint, does it really make sense to spend money on branded apparel for your business?  To answer this question, I ask you to think of your closet.

Your Closet

Just to be clear, I mean your ‘closet’ in the most literal sense of the word: the place where you keep your clothes.  What could someone learn about you by looking in your closet?  Aside from your addiction to hoodies, what could they learn specifically from the apparel that contain graphics or logos (what we call branded apparel)?

When I think of my closet, I realize the branded apparel reveals a lot including: places I have worked (in both the past and present), places my family members have worked, where I like to vacation, events I have attended, music I enjoy, organizations I support, sports teams I follow, and even a bit regarding my philosophy on life (based on the crazy amount of Life Is Good t-shirts).

Perhaps in your closet the list goes even further to include places you’ve worked out, schools from which you’ve graduated, schools family and friends have attended, festivals you’ve enjoyed, restaurants you frequent, country clubs where you are a member, golf courses you play, and on and on.  That’s quite extensive from just a look in the closet.

So what is the point of that fun exercise?  It is this: we wear what we care about.

We Wear What We Care About

Typically, we don a printed tee or embroidered sweatshirt because we relate in some way to the message it sends.  Often we are associated with the business, group or organization it represents.  And in many cases, we are proud of what it stands for. 

This makes wearables a very powerful marketing tool, because when someone sees an “advertisement” being worn it not only increases the brand recognition, it makes a statement about your brand.  The person wearing your brand helps enhance the promotion without saying a word.  The silent message is: I CHOSE to wear this garment which means I like what it represents. 

It’s more powerful when we see people we know wearing a brand, whether it be family and friends or the acquaintances in our community we pass at the grocery store, gym or bank.  We are more likely to trust them, because we know them, or at least relate to them.

This is more motivating than perhaps seeing the same message on a billboard or on a TV commercial.  As social beings, we want to be part of something and we are more likely to choose businesses, groups and organizations that our friends and family like and support.  This is the whole premise of the social media “like” and why it too has proven to be a powerful tool for businesses in recent years.

When we see someone wearing a brand, we assume he or she is a supporter of it in some way.  If you are doubting this is true, think of sports fans.  When the person in front of you in the checkout lane is wearing a Chicago Bears t-shirt, what do you conclude?  They must be a fan of the Chicago Bears.  Now take that a step further.  Would that Chicago Bears fan ever wear a shirt that said Green Bay Packers, the top rival of the Bears?  Well, living in the Illinois/Wisconsin state line area I can conclusively tell you he would not be caught dead in a Packers shirt!  What does this prove? 

I say again: we wear what we care about.  Additionally, we don’t wear garments that support brands we do not like.

Promotional Garments

This is a truth that can mean a lot to your business.  Let’s first discuss the promotional giveaway.  Clearly a promotional t-shirt can be a powerful advertising tool.  The 2014 ASI Impressions study revealed that 57% of U.S. consumers feel more favorable about the advertiser who gave them a promotional shirt.  This increased feeling of favorableness will also increase the likelihood of them wearing your freebie tee.  But more will be required.  Someone may LOVE your brand, but if you give her an ugly shirt, the chances of her wearing it drops considerably. 

Don’t let this scare you; creating a fashionable tee doesn’t have to be expensive or difficult.  Especially if you consult with a decorator who is an industry expert. (Hint: bright colors, performance fabrics, textures (like heathered fabrics) and distressed printing are all IN styles right now and add little, if any, expense to the product.)

The same 2014 ASI Impressions study found that a promotional shirt receives an average of 2,450 impressions.  Many of these impressions are made to people that the wearer knows, and therefore they are more powerful, convincing impressions.  The same is true for other wearables such as bags, caps or towels.   Bags in particular receive the greatest impressions – more than 5,700 during the life of the bag.  Bags generate more impressions than any other promotional item, largely because they are used in public places. (click here to find out why bags have the greatest ROI: 5 Reasons Promoting Your Business This Way is Superior)

Employee Apparel

Not to be understated is the power of employee apparel.  When employees wear their branded apparel outside of work it serves to increase your brand recognition in the same way as promotional apparel.  Logoed apparel for your employees provides much for your business besides marketing value.  Benefits such as brand identity, increased team building and enhanced professionalism being among them.  That could be, and probably will be, a subject for an entire blog post on its own.

The Takeaway

Like any good marketer, you should not put all your eggs in one basket.  With the variety of advertising means available, you should choose what is best for your business and your target audience.  That being said, it is likely that branded apparel will find a place in your marketing plan, both because of its powerful reach and cost effectiveness.  

Why not capitalize on your brand supporters by giving them wearables to put in their closet of “likes”.  If it’s done right, the wearable will come out of their closet often, increase their good feelings toward you, and effectively market your brand everywhere they go.

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