Why Top Beauty Brands Sell Merch and Swag

October 15, 2020

Most beauty brands already do well with their hero products, so some people wonder why they still make an effort to come out with merch and swag. The truth is, merch and swag are so important for the brand’s image and ultimately, its bottom line – and in this article, we delve into that. Read ahead to know more!

While it may seem like established beauty brands are doing very well with just their product lines alone, the roadmap of marketing reveals that this success has largely to do with their cult-like social media followings and customer loyalty. The term ‘merch’ is an informal noun that is short for merchandise, and it’s an entirely different (but super related) set of items outside a beauty brand’s holy grail product range.

Benefits of Custom Merchandise

In the last five years, the beauty industry has seen a growth in branded merchandise ideas that are eagerly lapped up by loyal fans. There are several benefits to teaming up with a merch designer for a custom range of products, such as:

Increase brand recognition.

Sure, top beauty brands already are known – but coming up with products in a merch store online will keep a brand steadily visible like it’s a regular reminder that it’s your favorite brand. This is true even for brands that are considered as household names. When people see merch on influencers from brands like Kylie Cosmetics, Drunk Elephant or Glossier, it’s a form of brand recognition and advertising. There’s tangible evidence that your favorite influencer or role model uses this product or at least endorses it. 

Helps establish customer loyalty.

If there is one thing beauty brands work hard for, it’s customer loyalty – and when you create your own merchandise, you have a stronger case for that. Promotional custom merchandise for business often enhances the personality that the beauty brand wishes to convey, and people who like that kind of personality will then feel more associated with the brand thanks to the brand merch ideas. For a first time customer, it may be the merch or the packaging that gets them to buy the actual products in their line, like sunscreen or lipgloss. Merch is a great way to write a letter to your customers without the writing part.  It should match with their lifestyle or it should be aspiration. 

Makes businesses stand out from the crowd.

Brands with successful merch are put more in the spotlight thanks to these cognate products, thereby highlighting the stark difference between them and their competitors. It shows that they have the marketing investment and corresponding products to prove that they are far better than the next best brand. If your customers start to wear merch on the streets of New York, LA or Chicago, they are walking billboards for your brand and could attract the attention of future customers. It’s a no-brainer to sell them merch that will continue to make your brand stand out among the rest.

Top Beauty Brands and Promotional Merchandise: A Match Made in Marketing Heaven

Top beauty brands place a primer on promotional merchandise, as you will see their branded merchandise online store. There has never been a more exciting time to discover and promote beauty brands: from clean products to fun star-shaped pimple stickers. Custom beauty merch is a big part of the way beauty brands communicate new product launches and promote their brand. 

Also, it’s a very cost-effective marketing strategy. For an established brand with an attractive list of custom beauty merch, they’re able to get a high return of interest by launching these products alone and ‘online’ (giving them to merch YouTubers and Instagram influencers for example) than producing an expensive marketing event (which is more local with a smaller reach), for example. Here’s why it’ll cost you less to do custom merch:

1. The materials don’t necessarily have to be expensive – but they have to look current, cool and fun. They need to match the tone of fashion and trends today. The materials that a lot of beauty merch is made of these days are pretty low-cost, such as a variety of fabrics like cotton or sustainable materials like bamboo, stainless steel, hemp and more.  The secret is in making sure that the product gets an awesome merchandise review, which is accomplished if the merch 1) looks beautiful and well-made, 2) fits a popular lifestyle with a demographic that has a high purchasing power, and 3) resounds with its target market.

2. It’s easy to get the influencers on board. Merchandise Youtubers and beauty bloggers generally have a very welcoming attitude when it comes to beauty brand merch. This is because they like to be associated with established brands, are always on the lookout for items for their upcoming content, and know that the merch they can get can be given away, which will increase their view count and page visits. Basically, people like nice but free stuff – and if you get your promotional merch into the hands of people with even some influence, you can cast a wider net when it comes to getting other people on board with your products.

Best Branded Merchandise from Top Beauty Brands

Here are some amazing branded merchandise examples from the hottest beauty brands of today:


Perhaps the most notable beauty merch is Glossier’s millennial pink hoodie. Are you even an influencer if you haven’t posted a picture of it on your Instagram feed? It’s not hard to convince a beauty fan to wear any merchandise set out by Glossier, a brand known for its simple yet effective take on beauty products that emphasize the natural beauty look. Glossier’s merch lineup covers all bases from head to toe: a sporty cap, hoodies and pullovers, shower slippers, and an easy tote. The brand’s iconic font stands out against a backdrop of airy white, minimalist gray, or powder pink, true to the brand’s color motif. It’s hard not to notice these items from afar, which is what the brand aims for and is successful at achieving. The items chosen by their tour merch designer are such that they will be used regularly, in a casually chic and effortlessly stylish manner. If you wear them, you’re one of them!



Founded by celebrity hairstylist Jen Atkin, Ouai has become a cult favorite in haircare. The aesthetic chosen by this brand is what people like: clean and minimalist – but not at all discreet. Its black and white theme sends the message that they appeal to all genders while looking very modern, right now. A limited product line up of two pullover designs and one cheeky tumbler is also effective because the limit that they set on their merch makes them more covetable. They use clean black text, which can appeal to other personality types who appreciate this method of conveying the brand’s message through actual words. 


Pattern Beauty

Started by the hilarious and beautiful Tracee Ellis Ross, Pattern Beauty is leading the way for building a community celebrating black beauty, specifically in haircare. The company’s merch is a combination of high-low items, which helps cover a lot of bases when it comes to the clientele stratosphere. You’ve got complimentary hair care products like wide-toothed combs and brushes, a lower cost option like a simple patent zippered case, and for the loyal and willing-to-spend set, joggers, shirts, and pullovers. A merch store maker will advise you to create the aesthetic of your brand merch reflective of your style, which Pattern pulls off wonderfully by staying true to their color palette in both items and clothing. 



Sun protection has never been so stylish with the arrival of Supergoop. One of the first skincare companies to make sunscreen sexy, Supergoop’s playful merch items exudes summers at the beach and kid-friendly lifestyles. Not only is the merch super bright, but they’ve elevated their products by using friendly, bold wording that will practically compel you to buy their main products (if you want to protect the skin you have). The thrust for the importance of wearing sunscreen, as splashed across practically their entire merch product line, sends the signal that the brand carries a very important product line that goes beyond beauty and is part and parcel of essential skincare.


Glow Recipe

Glow Recipe is a favorite amongst clean-beauty freaks and their branding is usually tied to the delicious fruits and vegetables you put in your body.  The skincare brand espouses all-natural ingredients for their products, which is why it’s no surprise to see cute nods to fruit (peach, watermelon) in some of the items in their store. Incorporating these hidden parts of the brand are great for merch items ideas--using illustrations and emojis to convey the fun in your brand. Glow Recipe’s assortment of promo merch is anchored on a happy shade of pale pink and targets both the young and the young at heart. Stickers, cute socks, water bottles, kitschy pouches – there’s definitely something in here that a girly girl wouldn’t be able to resist adding to her cart. You can also tell that the brand is all about sisterhood, with the “Glow Gang” mantra emblazoned on their merch hoodies.



Youth to the People

Youth to the People is a fast-rising skin care brand that exudes a “fewer, better” mentality when it comes to skin care products - and their community merch as well. This is consistent with their sustainability promise as they take care and pride in offering high-quality natural products with responsible packaging. Their merch says the same, which can prompt some to ask ‘why does our beauty brand store even exist if it is not here to promote using natural and sustainable materials?’


Summer Fridays

Summer Fridays enjoys an impressive list of A-list clientele, with Jessica Alba (everyone’s lifestyle icon) leading the pack – and people are always on the hunt for their free luxury merch. Summer Friday’s branding is both luxurious and care-free, with a push for effortless beauty that is cruelty-free at the same time. The brand’s merch messaging conveys an exclusive club of stylish skin care enthusiasts who know better and choose better, hence the “Summer Friday’s Self Care Club”. The deliberate choice of useful and sustainable best YouTube merch products like a reusable water bottle, canvas pouch and bag are all indicative of the kind of lifestyle it espouses and targets. 


Modern Merch Reviews: How to Score High With the Influencers

When you’re ready to hop on the merch train with top branded merchandise companies, here are the things you need to remember as you conceptualize your products list:

1. Budget. Designing your merch will always start off with the budget you’ve allotted for it, especially if you want to use it for marketing to influencers. What is the budget for swag, fulfillment and distribution? If you’re selling swag on your website, how much profit is ideal for your company? 

2. Design. When your budget is more or less set, what kind of design do you imagine on a wide range of products? It is best to come up with multiple design options that you can use across a variety of products both big and small, and over time. This should reflect your color scheme, fonts, and any witty one- or two-liners that say a lot about your company mission. 

3. Merch partner company. The great thing about coming up with swag or a merch store for streamers is that you do not have to produce them yourself. Where would you even start? There are promotional item companies like Gemnote that specialize in exactly that, so you can be sure that the merch you want is of the best quality for your intended price range. Moreover, getting the help of Gemnote for this also means you have access to a wide range of tried and tested products that have been successful in helping brands achieve the targets they’ve set when they decided to go the promotional items route.

4. Packaging. Your merch’s packaging should also be cleverly thought through. Don’t forget how important it is to make the experience of opening packaging to reveal your merch or swag thrilling for the recipient, because this can greatly influence how positively they think of what’s inside. Also, we highly recommend using sustainable or recycled materials for packaging. No one likes to see single-use plastic and unnecessarily obnoxious amounts of paper in their gift. 

YouTubers Merch: Worth Looking Into

One of the more popular marketing strategies when launching your swag is by tapping YouTubers for a giveaway or an unboxing, which they frequently do with Benefit cosmetics merchandise and other items from well-established brands. YouTubers also have YouTuber merchandise shops, which they add their own products and have products they purchase as well (they use a merch maker for YouTuber free to set this up). If you want their viewers to see your products, it’s worth tapping influential YouTubers for your merchandise promotion. As a guideline, you will have to think of the following:

- Partnering with a YouTuber or a blogger/influencer who resonates with your brand. Summer Fridays found a fan and a collaborator in Jessica Alba because both parties are into vegan, cruelty-free skincare products. Thus, you need to find an influencer who has the same views about your product line so you are sure they will love it and will promote it. A brand champion who embodies your values.

- Be aware of the limitations. It is challenging to target the top-rated YouTuber to feature your products because these influencers are inundated with product offers practically every day. If you are just starting out, you might want to level off your merch with second- or third-tier YouTubers and think about targeting the top stars when you’ve gained more momentum and a wider reach.

- Consider add-ons. When you send your merch to YouTubers for review, a good thing to do is to send two sets – one for the YouTuber to keep and another to giveaway. You can always hope that the YouTuber will want to wear or use your merch, so it’s always good to have a duplicate that they can use to host a giveaway.

Merch Vs. Brand

While merch is very important in the revenue stream of a product line, it should never be a competition between itself and the brand. The merch is representative of the brand and should therefore not cannibalize it; your merch must serve as little reminders of how cool and relevant your brand and your corresponding products are. Remember: merch is supposed to boost sales, not take the place of the sales you would have made with your primary products. It is important to understand when and how to use merch as a promotional tool, which is why the following are recommended:

1. Consider seasonal merch. Offering limited merch types and designs throughout the year is a good way to keep demand up and maintain relevance. It says that you have something new and fresh to offer with the arrival of each season.

2. Make sure your merch matches the season. Summery merch for the summer months, cool and cozy for the fall and winter months. Matching your merch with what’s hot for the season gives customers another reason to purchase it or avail of promos that allow them to get it for free: if it looks good with that season’s trendy pieces, then that will give them a better reason to go for it! 

3. Launch mini-campaigns to go with the merch. We like merch because they aren’t as expensive as other marketing activations, but it also doesn’t mean there’s no launch to go with it. Launches for merch (like a see-through cosmetic pouch, for example) should be given adequate promo time and space so there is a special focus on it and to have your customers look forward to it as well. You can do this on your social media pages, which is often free and easy to work with, and at a scale that is often more manageable.

4. Go for the everyday influencer who has a wide reach. Celebrities and A-listers will always be the dream, but if you are a smaller company then an effective strategy is to get your merch into the hands of individuals who are reflective of your target audience. Your category for choosing them, apart from knowing they fit your target, is that they should have a reach on social media. You wouldn’t believe the number of seemingly little-known Instagram influencers who have done a very good job of promoting products and brands they like – all without having to be an actor, a musician, or a model.

In times like these, it is always exciting to conceptualize a small range of merch that you feel will work well in boosting your company image and improving your revenue. Take a careful approach in this, and always with the help of a professional merchandise and corporate giveaway company like Gemnote so you know that all your efforts will reap the kind of results that you want!

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