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Café Youness tote bag held by a customer

Should you start creating branded merchandise for your restaurant?


What’s better than having people dining in your restaurant?


Having your restaurant in every household. 


Restaurant merchandise is a great way to create a connection with your customers and acquire new ones. 


A glass or a mug with your name on it is an excellent way to keep your business at the top of your customers’ mind whenever the need arises.


What is branded merchandise?


Branded merchandise is the set of products that have your logo. 


You can sell these branded merchandise and you can offer them as a gift on special occasions or promotions. 


Many restaurants sell their branded merchandise as a way to increase brand recognition and loyalty.


McDonald’s, KFC and of course Starbucks are few of the many chains that sell their merchandise. 

In lebanon, Café Younes is a great example on how restaurants and bakeries can merchandise their products.


Café Younes branded mugs displayed in their café


What are the different types of branded merchandise?


There are many types of merchandise that your business can offer but sometimes only a limited set of merchandise might suit your business. 

The popular types of merchandise that you can offer are:


  • Clothing: sweaters, T-shirts, shorts are an example of how you can brand your logo on clothing.


  • Accessories: hats, keychains,wristbands, ornaments, umbrellas, aprons, tote bags…


  • Glasses: mugs, wine glasses, shot glasses, champagne glasses, tea cups, coffee mugs, jars, travel mugs…


  • Food: sauces, compotes, spices, drinks, packed coffee and teas, syrups, BBQ rubs…


Owning a branded shirt or hat creates an emotional connection with the brand that’s why many restaurants and retail shops start their own branded products. 


Benefits of creating branded merchandise 


Increase loyalty


Owning a merchandise with your logo on it increases loyalty of your customers.


When they see a glass or a keychain or a tote bag with your name on it, it automatically reminds them of you. 


When they want to dine out, their unconscious mind will remind them of your restaurant because they were seeing your logo frequently.


The branded merchandise creates a stronger connection with your customers.


Your customers are your effective marketing tool


You can think of it as word of mouth. 


When other people see the branded merchandise in your customers’ houses, it will encourage them to talk about you and most probably about the good experience they have when they visit your restaurant.


It introduces you to new people and increases your reachability when people see clothing with your logo on it.


It’s free advertising. 


Increase income and upselling


One of the purposes of branding merchandise is to increase your income.


While you might opt to offer low costs merchandise as a gift to your loyal customers, the main objective is to sell them. 


Imagine sending your clients home with a bottle of their favourite salad’s sauce.


Encourage them to buy your merchandise through your frontliners.


Train your employees to upsell your merchandising. 


If a customer orders a salad or a platter of steak, the waiter can suggest buying the sauce or the steak rub so they can recreate your delicious recipes at home. 


The branded tea and coffee boxes from café Younes in the display


Cons of creating branded merchandise 


Display area


Displaying the merchandise is a drawback of creating branded merchandise especially for small dining areas. 


You can try to display it on the walls to be part of your setting to save some space. 


If not, try to display a limited quantity on the counter of your restaurant and let the employees inform customers about the branded products.


Customer demand 


Another drawback or possible pitfall for selling branded merchandise of your restaurant is the demand on these products. 


You have to be certain that customers will actually buy and ask for these products. 


Test your customers’ reaction to your products ahead of time. 


Host a giveaway and check the POS reports to monitor the demand and the willingness of your customers to pay additional fees for a meal or join the giveaway conditions to get the branded merchandise. 


Important tips to start your branded merchandise


Start with giveaways 


You need to test the demand of your new products so it’s always a good idea to throw contests and offer participants giveaways of your branded products.


Guess the ingredients of the platter or order online with a minimum amount to win a product.


The more you order the more valuable the product you win.


Spread the news


Creating branded products needs awareness. Spread the news of these new products on social media and in store. 


 At your restaurant, make them visible whether on the wall or on counters.


Let your employees inform your customers about them.


Team up with a food blogger or influencer to market your products.


A posted picture of the influencer wearing a shirt with your logo on it or drinking from your branded cup on instagram is very likely to drive up the demand on these products.


Buy one get the second for free


It’s another exciting way to launch your branded products and get your consumer’s attention.


announce this offer to your customers using social media platforms. 


Use limited edition/limited time headlines


Announce your products as being available for a limited time so customers rush to get them.


Even better promote them or a certain range of them as being limited edition so customers feel the urge to get them. 


Branded merchandise can be an interesting and valuable way to grow your income and increase brand loyalty.


Carefully research your market and your customers before starting this business to prevent possible losses or disappointment.