The Power of Physical Merch

The Power of Physical Merch

In a world of digital music and streaming, physical merchandise is becoming more of a premium rarity. Music is so easily available that fans want a different way to show their affinity to their favorite artists. Providing fans with creative physical merchandise is a great way to generate additional revenue and satisfy a consumer need. I wanted to take a moment to examine a physical product I came across for an English Rock Band, the Struts.

I found out about this product release and band through one of my Full Sail friends. He’s a live show photographer and artist interviewer, so he meets a lot of bands in his line of work. He posted a Cereal Box bundle for The Struts on his Instagram stories. The bundle package included a vinyl record of an unreleased song, a digital download code for the song, and a cereal box. The premium product was designed and created by FunkO, a company that creates “licensed pop culture products [for] a diverse range of consumers (Funko, n.d.).”

The Struts cereal box package was priced at $14.99, and included a cereal box with a 7 in” vinyl of a song called  “21st Century Dandy,” as well as a digital download of the song. A cereal box is a great way to promote a brand and spread a message. I can’t recall how many times I’ve examined and read the back of a cereal box while eating cereal. The box for The Struts has information on the latest release, a cartoon design of the band centered in the front, and links to their social media accounts. The box also features the brand name FunkO, so it serves as a cross promotional product. The vinyl record compliments the box, portraying the band in the same cartoonish manner. The sleeve is the only thing that does not aesthetically fit with the package, but I still think it’s a great premium product overall.

Two locations I found where the product is available for purchase is EBay and FYE (an online retailer that sells collectable items and memorabilia). FYE is currently out of stock but the EBay listing has the product at $79.99. It appears to be resale from an original consumer.

There were various forms of promotion I saw for the product. The first one was an Instagram post by the band (this is what my friend posted on his IG Stories and how I ultimately saw it). I also found a YouTube video about it, and various publications online announcing the breakfast bundle, including some posts by UDiscoverMusic, a Radio Station called 92.1 The Zew, and Total Rock (all referenced at the end). The online publications could be paid for or organic, but a quick Google search will reveal that there were various outlets used to promote the premium product.

I feel success for a product ultimately depends on whether it sells or not. Since I have no ability to view sales numbers for this particular product, it’s challenging for me to determine whether it should be crowned a success. Looking at data from NextBigSound, the Spotify For Artist App, and Social Blade, there doesn’t appear to be any spikes in listening activity or fan engagement for November 9th (the product announcement date) and the days following. The data shows that the premium product did translate to more streams or fan engagement. Below is a snapshot of number of listeners from the Spotify for Artist App for the month of November and insights from NextBigSound. Listeners did not increase after November 9th for Spotify and there doesn’t appear to be much of an increase in Facebook mentions and Pandora plays (even though Radio Spins did increase on the week of November 9th). Twitter retweets did increased on the week of the product announcement, but they did not increase by an overwhelming degree.

The fact that the product reached me (and I am not a part of the band’s core audience) does mean that it served as a great promotional tool. Partnering up with a merchandise company that is known for their affiliation with Rock Bands compliments The Struts brand. Since the product is a logical cross promotional endeavor that allowed The Struts to reach new audiences, I will not label it a misstep. However, the product did not translate to more streams and/or fan engagement, so I will have to say it’s a working progress. Perhaps if the song was available for streaming it could have helped grow the band’s audience and listeners. Either way I thought it was very cool and creative.

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