How to Merchandise Like Tehn
So we are rewriting an article that we published a while ago. Our website was subsequently hacked, and we lost that and other pieces of content. The title says it all. We are giving an outward assessment of Tehn Diamond’s Happy T’s merchandising move. After this was published, Tehn has gone on to create the TND merchandise, Tisu Ngoda Dzacho.
There are a few things that we can glean from the first campaign and how the new campaign has been an improvement. I will reach out to Tehn and see if we can get him on Skype or something to record this, and more importantly to first hand information. Our goal is always to create models that others can replicate or build on top of.
Tehn is on the forefront of making art pay the bills. It’s important to make sure what you love pays the bills, so you can keep doing what you love.
Clothing label vs Merchandise
Most artists confuse having some merch with having a clothing label. Placing your logo or tag line on some clothing does not make you a clothing brand/label. Granted it may be the start of one. Draymond John started that way if I recall correctly. The markets may differ, but as long as we are Hip Hop, we will do well to learn from everyone who has done it before us.
Without music, there is no merchandise for artists. The music, paired with the clothes is what makes merchandise. Remove the music, and we have a playing field where you have competitors that you didn’t realise were competitors. Brands often pay to have their products placed in music videos. Marketing works, it’s that simple. Tehn and Jnr Brown brought us the song Happy, further highlighted the clothing by placing it in their lyrics on their Few Kings project, “Can I buy a Happy Tee?” Remember those words by Jnr Brown on that summer track off The Feeling Aint Fair?
Tehn throws on the T-shirt for the video as well. Merch is placed well, tonnes of people see it. They then know that they too can get their hands on this. The moment artists understand they are a key component of their business model, things start to be handled differently.
There was nothing proprietary about the Happy T-shirts. There didn’t need to be. People are not buying into the uniqueness for the most part. You would obviously want to make sure that the quality is acceptable. No one wants a shitty t-shirt of jumper, unless that is what your songs are about. Depending on where you buy it, merchandise tends to be fairly pricy. There is that scarcity mentality that is built buy the finite number of items that an event could have. Tie that with nostalgia that is built by perhaps hearing that artist play, then seeing the merchandise.
Why People Buy Merchandise
- Te a part of something / To own a part of something: You are selling an experience, this is why merchandise is less concerned with design. If they wanted design, they would buy Moschino or another designer brand.
The last merchandise that I bought was a hoodie from festival No.6 in North Wales. I had been there 3 years in a row. There are a lot of memories from there. I met Rationale there, the first time we went, must have been 2016. We were caught in absolutely awful weather, which I hated but look back at fondly today. The second year, I went with a close friend.
We had both been there the previous year but had been doing different things, so didn’t meet. We had another swell time. The weather was as awful as ever, especially on the last day. I loved it, nonetheless. The final year was the festival’s final year. These hoodies are fairly pricy, compared to branded hoodies. There is no memories in buying another Adidas jacket. When I throw on my No.6 hoodie, I think of friends, times, and so on. What does your merch bring to the table in that sense?
When merchandise is built on the back of a hit song, there are memories that may not even be associated with you as an artist. Songs have that power. You facilitate that hold with the merchandise. They get to keep a tangible part of memories made in that “Happy” season.
We are sheep. No matter how independent we may think we are, we are sheep. This is the reason why billions of dollars are spent on endorsements and advertising annually. People buy things they don’t need is they are presented well, and at the right time.
Merch examples from across the globe
There is some charm to the first one. The second one is a simple tagline based on the artist’s content. The motivation to buy both these is to have a piece of history. The first commemorates the attendance of your tour. The second one is in memory of content the artist has created.
“Life can bring much pain, there are many ways to deal with this pain. Choose wisely.” This is a quote from the KOD album.
So this is an interesting one, the number 3 didn’t actually mean anything to Chance. He was on his third project when he adopted it. Fans followed suit. There is a feeling of taking a journey together with artists throughout the projects. Source
The rest of these are all memory and souvenir pieces. The last one being one that would likely sell at events, more than it would in store. There is context at an event.
- The music: This is the bedrock of all merchandise. Any artist that has ever spoken to me about launching a clothing brand, is always reminded of the importance of the music. Unless you want to produce a fully creative design, actually be a designer and be judged on the merit of your design.
- Timing: People forget, while they are still talking, give them what they are believing in. When merchandise is well timed, marketing is easier. This is when the media and others are also talking about the song.
- Social Media: I wouldn’t have known that the Happy T was available to purchase if not for social media.
- Street Delivery: feeds into the issue of experience. People are buying into you as well as what you are selling. Tehn and Jnr Brown hit the streets hard, doing deliveries to fans and so on. Add photo opportunities to this and we have a perfect marketing storm.
Few Good Marketing Ideas
- Invest in growing your social media following. Tehn does this ever so well. My best friend in China is always going on about the live streams and Insta stories.
- Make your fans a part of the marketing. Merchandise sells are partly hinged on this. This is why you ought to involve the fans in marketing. They have bought a piece of history. Grant them a platform to showcase it all. Lower overhead on your part, and you actually get to see how you are making an impact. ROI shouldn’t be limited to financial terms.
With TND, Tehn moves from being a producer of merchandise, to actually creating a brand. We are following the marketing behind this one as well. Key takeaways so far: photos, product placement, engagement and Tehn+his team.
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