How Experience Merchandise Partnerships Can Level Up Your Event Merchandise

I sat down with Jeff Hacker, Huge Brand’s Sales Director, to discuss Experience Merchandise Partnerships. During our conversation, I learned how companies can leverage the capacity of a comprehensive brand merchandising, fulfillment, and management company to create an ideal merchandise experience for a large event. Jump in to learn about the possibilities of what event merchandise can be!

Drew Crawford: When people think about event merchandise, what do they typically not understand? What opportunities do they miss?

Jeff:  It's important to remember that not everyone has the facilities to execute a massive merchandise offering, so in a lot of situations it's people doing the best with what they have. There is also a lot more to a fully developed retail offering than just apparel. Fleshing out an expansive collection of apparel and accessories is the best way to maximize sales. How this collection is presented to your crowd is also massively important. The location of your retail space and how it’s merchandised are critical components to a successful outing. 

Atlanta Comic Con

DC: What do you think that people need to know about Experience Merchandise Partnerships?

Jeff:  First and foremost, we take the word "partnership" very seriously.  Our team is an extension of your team. Working together as a cohesive unit is important to the success of any event. It’s always my favorite thing when I’m working hand in hand with someone within our partner organization that’s just as passionate as me about what we are producing and offering. 

Secondly, I think a lot of people might be under the impression that at some point in time, there will be an ask of them to pay for something. With this program, Huge Brands assumes all of the risk and takes on the financial responsibility of producing the orders, transporting the inventory and staffing the event.  We take that risk because we have the data to ensure that what we have curated for your event aligns with your demographic. 

The business case for partnering with a company that specializes in event merchandise solutions

DC: What is the difference between merchandising an event yourself versus partnering with a company for event merchandise services?  

Jeff: What we’ve seen a lot is that events often view merchandise as a marketing expense because it serves as a tangible representation of their brand. As a marketing expense, they’re often looking at what is available for the lowest cost, resulting in merchandise that does not live up to their brand’s true identity.  

There is always a massive amount of risk involved, so decisions are often made in an attempt to mitigate that risk, usually in the form of ordering small quantities. 

The biggest difference that working with Huge Brands makes is we alleviate all of that stress and doubt.  We have multiple teams of experts working behind the scenes to ensure that every decision that is made for your offering aligns with your brand and that quantities are adequate for your attendee size. This allows our partners to completely focus on other aspects of the event.  

DC: Why do shows approach event merchandise this way?

Jeff: Having a professional brand merchandising company involved with your organization is not something that is top of mind and is looked at as an afterthought in most situations. In fact, very rarely is there a “merchandise manager” or someone who is exclusively dedicated to ensuring that the event merchandise is a success. Oftentimes, the key people in the organization are forced to wear multiple hats, including merchandise. 

Merchandise partnerships is a unique business model and it’s also likely that most events don’t know there is another way.  Having an initial conversation with me is always the best step forward when seeing what else is out there. 



DC: So you would agree that most organizations don’t have the capacity for creating a merchandise experience on their own at their event?

Jeff: Organizers are typically too busy to do it in a way that maximizes its potential, which is why they need a partner that has the capacity to provide event merchandise services.

DC: Describe the value proposition of Huge Brand’s EMP as opposed to an organization doing the merchandise at an event themselves?

Jeff: With Huge Brand’s EMP you free up your organization’s capacity to focus on your other responsibilities. You’re partnering with an organization who devotes 100 percent of their capacity to your branded merchandise experience and uses all the facets of its business to ensure that your event merchandise excels. 

Our art team develops all of your event merchandise ideas (concepts), our production team produces all of the concepts, we handle all of the shipping and logistics needed to get the merchandise to the event, our team of professional sellers are on site selling the merchandise, and at the end of the event, we cut you a check. 

Am I a good fit to hire a company to handle my event merch?

DC: What would make somebody a good fit versus not a good fit for your Experience Merchandise Partnership?

Jeff:   If you have an event coming up, we should at least be having a conversation!  If you are open to the idea of letting go of the reins a bit and allowing us access to your world then we should for sure be having a conversation! 

How much can I expect to make by partnering with Huge Brands for my Event Merchandise?

DC: How much can a company expect to make from partnering with Huge Brands for their event merchandise or conference merchandise?

Jeff: So far, our track record is a minimum of 20 percent revenue increase year-over-year from the time we started partnering with events and producing their event apparel and merchandise in 2017. Considering there is no out of pocket expenses at all from our partner’s end, it’s all money in the green! 

DC: As a customer, if I'm interested in partnering with Huge Brands to take on my merchandising for an event, how much effort, time, and resources will it require?

Jeff:  First, we qualify the partnership to ensure that it's a good fit for both parties. When it makes sense for a company and us to partner, the only involvement that is needed [by the company] is a commitment to responding in an appropriate amount of time. This starts with an agreement to the terms of the agreement that specifies certain things such as a preferred booth location. 

Our entire vision is to create the best possible event merchandise experience, and any discussions need to happen in a timely manner. Once the agreement is agreed upon by all parties, your only involvement is the approval of all event apparel and merchandise concepts. 

Our team will decide the optimal event merchandise to produce and in what quantities. We will provide a full retail offering, not just your brand or company logo on event apparel. You’ll likely see a lot of concepts, and the concepts you approved are used on multiple production methods on multiple product offerings. 



How to Get Started

DC: What does the process for a discovery call for Huge Brand’s Experience Merchandise Partnership program look like?

Jeff: We start off by learning about your show. At some point in time, you had a brilliant idea. We like to get to the bottom of what that brilliant idea was, how it was initially fleshed out, how it has grown from there, and what your future goals are. We have seen year-over-year growth with every single event that we have partnered with. Learning about where you want to go helps us know where we can take you. 

DC: What would you say that Huge Brands is best at during events? Your agreement is packed with features, but what sets Huge Brands apart from other brand merchandising companies?

Jeff: When we partner, Huge Brands is a part of your show. I’m very proud of our entire event team. We make it a point for the event merchandise experience to be something that is talked about after the show ends. 

Also, we know the persona of people attending your event. For example, if we’re talking about ComicCon the majority of attendees are families and groups of friends. If our team is fun and engaging with them, it’s not uncommon for there to be impromptu photo shoots with guests of the conventions or musical guests who come hang out at your merch booth. 

Huge Brands provides these opportunities. Our expert event team creates a night and day difference from having a volunteer staff your booth. 

Why an event merchandise partnership is designed to benefit both parties

DC: What is the benefit of partnering with Huge Brands on an event? Why are the terms of you partnership not "too good to be true"?

Jeff: It’s because of our capacity and expertise. We have the graphic designers, production team, industry knowledge and know-how; the one thing that we don’t have is your brand. 

We need your brand in order to produce the merchandise for your event. Your existing brand and our capability to produce the conference merchandise, event merchandise, or festival merchandise that your customers want is mutually beneficial. 

DC: What’s your favorite story during your time running Experience Merchandise Partnerships?

Jeff: At the most recent Atlanta Comic Convention we were able to get the majority of the guests to come and see us at the booth. After seeing all of the designs, many attendees picked up a bunch of products and wore them at the celebrity signings. It really is a testament to see people who attend these types of events professionally think our convention merchandise design and quality is so good that they wear it immediately. 

DC: Are there any other things that you want to share with potential event partners?

Jeff: With events such as musical festivals, there is another piece of important information to keep in mind: The selling and the settlement of artist merchandise. Anyone who has ever put on a music festival or promoted a concert is intimately familiar with what goes into the selling of artist merchandise. You want professional sellers doing those "count-ins and count-outs", and you want to be able to settle immediately.

Our professional team is trained on all updated POS software, and inventory tracking software that exists, to ensure that transactions happen seamlessly, quickly, and without headache. Being able to say that you can settle out on merchandise at a music festival in real time is incredible. To have that coincide with the selling of event merchandise in the same space causes people at the event to buy both an artist tee and festival tee. A professional team is required to pull that off. 

DC: Is there anything else that our audience should know?

Jeff: At Huge Brands, our primary focus is building relationships. There’s something special that goes into the passion of wanting to throw events. 

I come from a background of 20 plus years of event production. I have a soft spot in my heart for the people that have the gumption to do events on a large scale. Really getting to know and understand these people and have a relationship to the point where we trust each other, is exciting. Finding this type of partnership is rare, awesome, and shouldn’t be overlooked. Being able to partner with people and have the type of relationship that we have is the reason that I do this work.


To get in contact with Jeff Hacker, and chat about your merchandise shoot him a text, or call him at (801)-652-6543


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