Many food truck owners have written to us asking for advice in creating alternative revenue streams for their mobile food businesses. So how do we respond? We tell them that the sale of t-shirts, mugs, hats and other merchandise can provide them with a supplemental revenue source.
For your customers, your food can be a moving experience and provides you with a way to express your truck’s identity. So your customers may want to buy merchandise to bring home something from your truck. However, a considerable percentage of mobile food vendors miss this opportunity to gain an extra revenue stream and advance their food truck’s brand through merchandising.
Loyal Customers Want More
The benefits do not end after the customer pays for your merchandise. Frequently, it has a much larger marketing effect. Typically, a loyal customer commits to your food truck brand even more. This commitment has a lasting effect as it solidifies their opinion of your food truck. Think about all the times the customer will come across the merchandise at home and be reminded of the last item they eat from your truck.
Topic of Conversation
The second effect springs out of the conversations that the product provokes. A compliment or question is an opportunity for word-of-mouth marketing between a loyal customer and a potential customer. You may think your logo is an effective advertisement when someone walks down the street wearing it on his or her cap or shirt. That is not normally the case; instead, the T-shirt serves a marketing purpose when people get into conversations about the merchandise. These conversations give your customers the opportunity to talk about your food truck or cart and why they like it so much.
Spread Your Brand
Merchandising can also take your brand one step further, as just having only your logo on a cap is a recipe for failure. You should really express your brand fully and connect it to your food truck’s identity whether it’s through memorable text or visuals. Of course, you must consider customer demographics and what they want.
Here are some types of merchandise you may consider with a few pointers:
Tips for Merchandise
- Text or image in front that expresses food truck brand (whether funny, clever, or cool)
- Logo is better on the back as customers shouldn’t feel like billboards and it will get more attention
- Should last in washing machine and affordable
- Use these T-shirts as a staff uniform
- Travel mugs are better as they have the potential for greater word-of-mouth marketing
- Better to have a distinct shape rather than traditional mug
- Should be high quality
- Baseball caps are your safest bet
- Creative placement or representation of logo as back is out of sight
Other brand-specific Items
- Glasses, magnets, key chains, pins, stickers
Four things that will help you anticipate the success of merchandising is:
- Evaluate the size and excitement of your most loyal customers
- Desirability of the merchandise
- Visibility of the products
- Price (remember there may be different state sales tax for merchandise)
Be sure that you give customers a way to find out about these products (show them off in your service window or on your food truck’s website). When in doubt, you should ask them if merchandise from your food truck would interest them.