Merchandising is any practice which contributes to the sale of products
to a retail
A consumer is a person or a group who intends to order, or uses purchased goods, products, or services primarily for personal, social, family, household and similar needs, who is not directly related to entrepreneurial or business activities. ...
. At a retail in-store level, merchandising refers to displaying products that are for sale in a creative way that entices customers to purchase more items or products.
Retail is the sale of goods and services to consumers, in contrast to wholesaling, which is sale to business or institutional customers. A retailer purchases goods in large quantities from manufacturers, directly or through a wholesaler, and ...
commerce, visual display merchandising means merchandise
Sales are activities related to selling or the number of goods sold in a given targeted time period. The delivery of a service for a cost is also considered a sale.
The seller, or the provider of the goods or services, completes a sale in ...
Product design as a verb is to create a new product to be sold by a business to its customers. A very broad coefficient and effective generation and development of ideas through a process that leads to new products. Thus, it is a major aspect of ...
Packaging is the science, art and technology of enclosing or protecting products for distribution, storage, sale, and use. Packaging also refers to the process of designing, evaluating, and producing packages. Packaging can be described as a c ...
Pricing is the process whereby a business sets the price at which it will sell its products and services, and may be part of the business's marketing plan. In setting prices, the business will take into account the price at which it could acqui ...
, and display that stimulates consumers to spend more. This includes disciplines and
Discounting is a financial mechanism in which a debtor obtains the right to delay payments to a creditor, for a defined period of time, in exchange for a charge or fee.See "Time Value", "Discount", "Discount Yield", "Compound Interest", "Efficient ...
, physical presentation of products and displays, and the decisions about which products should be presented to which customers at what time. Often in a retail setting, creatively tying in related products or accessories is a great way to entice consumers to purchase more.
Merchandising helps to understand the ordinary dating notation for the terms of payment of an invoice. Codified discounting solves pricing problems including markups and markdowns. It helps to find the net price of an item after single or multiple trade discounts and can calculate a single discount rate that is equivalent to a series of multiple discounts. Further, it helps to calculate the amount of cash discount for which a payment qualifies.
The annual cycle of merchandising differs between countries and even within them, particularly relating to cultural customs like holidays, and seasonal issues like climate and local sporting and recreation. Events such as Chinese festival
Japanese festivals are traditional festive occasions often celebrated with dance and music in Japan. Many festivals have their roots in traditional Chinese festivals, but have undergone extensive changes over time to have little resemblance t ...
are incorporated in an annual cycle of shop decorations and merchandise promotion.
In the United States, the basic retail cycle begins in early January with merchandise for
Valentine's Day, also called Saint Valentine's Day or the Feast of Saint Valentine, is celebrated annually on February 14. It originated as a Christian feast day honoring one or two early Christian martyrs named Saint Valentine and, throu ...
, which is not until mid-February. Presidents' Day
sales are held shortly thereafter. Following this,
Easter,Traditional names for the feast in English are "Easter Day", as in the ''Book of Common Prayer''; "Easter Sunday", used by James Ussher''The Whole Works of the Most Rev. James Ussher, Volume 4'') and Samuel Pepys''The Diary of Samuel ...
is the major holiday, while springtime clothing and garden-related merchandise is already arriving at stores, often as early as mid-winter (toward the beginning of this section, St. Patrick's Day
merchandise, including green items and products pertaining to Irish culture, is also promoted).
Mother's Day is a celebration honoring the mother of the family or individual, as well as motherhood, maternal bonds, and the influence of mothers in society. It is celebrated on different days in many parts of the world, most commonly in t ...
Father's Day is a holiday of honoring fatherhood and paternal bonds, as well as the influence of fathers in society. In Catholic countries of Europe, it has been celebrated on 19 March as Saint Joseph's Day since the Middle Ages. In the Unite ...
are next, with
Graduation is the awarding of a diploma to a student by an educational institution. It may also refer to the ceremony that is associated with it. The date of the graduation ceremony is often called graduation day. The graduation ceremony is al ...
gifts (typically small
Consumer electronics or home electronics are electronic ( analog or digital) equipment intended for everyday use, typically in private homes. Consumer electronics include devices used for entertainment, communications and recreation. Usuall ...
A digital camera is a camera that captures photographs in digital memory. Most cameras produced today are digital, largely replacing those that capture images on photographic film. Digital cameras are now widely incorporated into mobile device ...
s) often being marketed as "dads and grads" in June (though most college semesters end in May; the grads portion usually refers to high school graduation, which ends one to two weeks after Father's Day in many U.S. states). Summer merchandise is next, including patriotic-themed products with the American flag, out by
Memorial Day (originally known as Decoration Day) is a federal holiday in the United States for mourning the U.S. military personnel who have fought and died while serving in the United States armed forces. It is observed on the last Mond ...
in preparation for
An independence day is an annual event commemorating the anniversary of a nation's independence or statehood, usually after ceasing to be a group or part of another nation or state, or more rarely after the end of a military occupation. Many ...
(with Flag Day
in between). By July, back-to-school
is on the shelves and autumn merchandise is already arriving, and at some
arts and crafts
A handicraft, sometimes more precisely expressed as artisanal handicraft or handmade, is any of a wide variety of types of work where useful and decorative objects are made completely by one’s hand or by using only simple, non-automated re ...
A Christmas decoration is any of several types of ornamentation used at Christmastide and the greater holiday season. The traditional colors of Christmas are pine green (evergreen), snow white, and heart red. Gold and silver are also very ...
Christmas in July
Christmas in July, Christmas in Summer or Christmas in Winter is a second Christmas celebration held around the summer season, mainly during July. It is centered around Christmas-themed activities and entertainment, including small gatherings, se ...
celebration is held around this time.) The back-to-school market is promoted heavily in August, when there are no holidays to promote. By September, particularly after
Labor Day is a federal holiday in the United States celebrated on the first Monday in September to honor and recognize the American labor movement and the works and contributions of laborers to the development and achievements of the Unite ...
, summer merchandise is on final closeout
Overstock, excessive stock, excess2sell, B-stock, or excess inventory, is the result of poor management of stock demand or of material flow in process management. Excessive stock is also associated with loss of revenue owing to additional capit ...
of school supplies is marked-down some as well, and
Halloween or Hallowe'en (less commonly known as Allhalloween, All Hallows' Eve, or All Saints' Eve) is a celebration observed in many countries on 31 October, the eve of the Western Christian feast of All Saints' Day. It begins the observan ...
(and often even more of the Christmas) merchandise is appearing. As the Halloween decorations and costumes dwindle in October, Christmas is already being pushed on consumers, and by the day after Halloween retailers are going full-force with advertising, even though the "official" season doesn't start until
the day after
''The Day After'' is an American television film that first aired on November 20, 1983 on the ABC television network. More than 100 million people, in nearly 39 million households, watched the film during its initial broadcast. With ... Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving is a national holiday celebrated on various dates in the United States, Canada, Grenada, Saint Lucia, Liberia, and unofficially in countries like Brazil and Philippines. It is also observed in the Netherlander town of Leiden an ...
. Christmas clearance sale
s begin even before Christmas at many retailers, though others begin on the day after Christmas
and continue on at least until
New Year's Day
New Year's Day is a festival observed in most of the world on 1 January, the first day of the year in the modern Gregorian calendar. 1 January is also New Year's Day on the Julian calendar, but this is not the same day as the Gregorian one. Wh ...
but sometimes as far out as February.
Merchandising also varies within
A chain store or retail chain is a retail outlet in which several locations share a brand, central management and standardized business practices. They have come to dominate the retail and dining markets and many service categories, in many pa ...
s, where stores in places like Buffalo
A snow blower or snow thrower is a machine for removing snow from an area where it is problematic, such as a driveway, sidewalk, roadway, railroad track, ice rink, or runway. The commonly used term "snow blower" is a misnomer, as the snow ...
s, while stores in
Florida is a state located in the Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia, to the east by the Bahamas and Atlantic Ocean, and to ...
Southern California (commonly shortened to SoCal) is a geographic and cultural region that generally comprises the southern portion of the U.S. state of California. It includes the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the second most populous urban a ...
might instead carry beach clothing and barbecue grills all year. Coastal-area stores might carry
Water skiing (also waterskiing or water-skiing) is a surface water sport in which an individual is pulled behind a boat or a cable ski installation over a body of water, skimming the surface on two skis or one ski. The sport requires suffic ...
equipment, while ones near
A mountain range or hill range is a series of mountains or hills arranged in a line and connected by high ground. A mountain system or mountain belt is a group of mountain ranges with similarity in form, structure, and alignment that have arise ...
s would likely have
Skiing is the use of skis to glide on snow. Variations of purpose include basic transport, a recreational activity, or a competitive winter sport. Many types of competitive skiing events are recognized by the International Olympic Committee ( ...
Snowboarding is a recreational and competitive activity that involves descending a snow-covered surface while standing on a snowboard that is almost always attached to a rider's feet. It features in the Winter Olympic Games and Winter Paralympi ...
gear if there are ski areas nearby.
Retail supply chain
In commerce, a supply chain is a network of facilities that procure raw materials, transform them into intermediate goods and then final products to customers through a distribution system. It refers to the network of organizations, people, activ ...
, merchandising is the practice of making products in retail outlets available to consumers, primarily by stocking shelves and displays. While this used to be done exclusively by the stores' employees, many retailers have found substantial savings in requiring it to be done by the manufacturer, vendor, or wholesaler that provides the products to the retail store. In the United Kingdom, there are a number of organizations that supply merchandising services to support retail outlets with general stock replenishment and merchandising support in new stores. By doing this, retail stores have been able to substantially reduce the number of employees needed to run the store.
While stocking shelves and building displays is often done when the product is delivered, it is increasingly a separate activity from delivering the product. In grocery stores, for example, almost all products delivered directly to the store from a manufacturer or wholesaler will be stocked by the manufacturer's/wholesaler's employee who is a full-time merchandiser. Product categories where this is common are Beverage (all types, alcoholic and non-alcoholic), packaged baked goods (bread and pastries), magazines and books, and health and beauty products.
For major food manufacturers in the beverage and baked goods industries, their merchandisers are often the single largest employee group within the company. For nationwide branded goods manufacturers such as
The Coca-Cola Company
The Coca-Cola Company is an American multinational beverage corporation founded in 1892, best known as the producer of Coca-Cola. The Coca-Cola Company also manufactures, sells, and markets other non-alcoholic beverage concentrates and syrup ...
PepsiCo, Inc. is an American multinational food, snack, and beverage corporation headquartered in Harrison, New York, in the hamlet of Purchase. PepsiCo's business encompasses all aspects of the food and beverage market. It oversees the man ...
, their respective merchandiser work forces number in the thousands.
Marketing is the process of exploring, creating, and delivering value to meet the needs of a target market in terms of goods and services; potentially including selection of a target audience; selection of certain attributes or themes to empha ...
, one of the definitions of merchandising is the practice in which the brand or image from one product or service is used to sell another.
A trademark (also written trade mark or trade-mark) is a type of intellectual property consisting of a recognizable sign, design, or expression that identifies products or services from a particular source and distinguishes them from oth ...
ed brand names, logos, or character images are licensed to manufacturers of products such as toys or clothing, which then make items in or emblazoned with the image of the license, hoping they'll sell better than the same item with no such image.
[ABC News: Coffins bearing baseball team logos.]
For the owners of the IP (
Intellectual property (IP) is a category of property that includes intangible creations of the human intellect. There are many types of intellectual property, and some countries recognize more than others. The best-known types are patents, cop ...
) in question, merchandising is a very popular source of revenue, due to the low cost of letting a third party manufacture the merchandise, while the IP owners collect the merchandising (royalty) fees.
In 1903, a year after publishing ''
The Tale of Peter Rabbit
''The Tale of Peter Rabbit'' is a children's book written and illustrated by Beatrix Potter that follows mischievous and disobedient young Peter Rabbit as he gets into, and is chased around, the garden of Mr. McGregor. He escapes and returns h ...
'', English author
Helen Beatrix Potter (, 28 July 186622 December 1943) was an English writer, illustrator, natural scientist, and conservationist. She is best known for her children's books featuring animals, such as '' The Tale of Peter Rabbit'', which was ...
created the first Peter Rabbit soft toy
and registered him at the Patent Office
in London, making Peter the oldest licensed fictional character.
Erica Wagner of ''
''The Times'' is a British daily national newspaper based in London. It began in 1785 under the title ''The Daily Universal Register'', adopting its current name on 1 January 1788. ''The Times'' and its sister paper '' The Sunday Times'' ( ...
'' states, "Beatrix Potter was the first to recognise that content—as we now call the stuff that makes up a book or a film—was only the beginning. In 1903, Peter hopped outside his pages to become a patented soft toy, which gave him the distinction of being not only Mr. McGregor‘s mortal enemy, but also becoming the first licensed character".
Merchandising for children is most prominently seen in connection with
A film also called a movie, motion picture, moving picture, picture, photoplay or (slang) flick is a work of visual art that simulates experiences and otherwise communicates ideas, stories, perceptions, feelings, beauty, or atmosphere ...
s and videogames
, usually those in current release and with
Television, sometimes shortened to TV, is a telecommunication medium for transmitting moving images and sound. The term can refer to a television set, or the medium of television transmission. Television is a mass medium for advertising, ...
shows oriented towards children.
Merchandising, especially in connection with child-oriented films, TV shows and literature, often consists of toys made in the likeness of the show or book’s characters (action figures) or items which they use. This was first seen with the Peter Rabbit soft toy in 1903, with the '' Smithsonian
'' magazine stating Beatrix Potter "created a system that continues to benefit all licensed characters, from
Mickey Mouse is an animated cartoon Character (arts), character co-created in 1928 by Walt Disney and Ub Iwerks. The longtime mascot of The Walt Disney Company, Mickey is an Anthropomorphism, anthropomorphic mouse who typically wears red sho ...
''Harry Potter'' is a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at ...
However, sometimes it can be the other way around, with the show written to include the toys, as advertising for the merchandise.
Sometimes merchandising from a television show can grow far beyond the original show, even lasting decades after the show has largely disappeared from popularity. In other cases, large amounts of merchandise can be generated from a pitifully small amount of source material ( Mashimaro
The most common adult-oriented merchandising is that related to
In professional sports, as opposed to amateur sports, participants receive payment for their performance. Professionalism in sport has come to the fore through a combination of developments. Mass media and increased leisure have brought larg ...
teams (and their players).
A smaller niche in merchandising is the marketing of more adult-oriented products in connection with similarly adult-oriented films and TV shows. This is common especially with the
Science fiction (sometimes shortened to Sci-Fi or SF) is a genre of speculative fiction which typically deals with imaginative and futuristic concepts such as advanced science and technology, space exploration, time travel, parallel univers ...
Genre () is any form or type of communication in any mode (written, spoken, digital, artistic, etc.) with socially-agreed-upon conventions developed over time. In popular usage, it normally describes a category of literature, music, or other fo ...
s. Occasionally, shows which were intended more for children find a following among adults (for example, ''
is a Japanese military fiction media franchise. Created by Yoshiyuki Tomino and Sunrise (now Bandai Namco Filmworks), the franchise features giant robots, or mecha, with the name "Gundam". The franchise began on April 7, 1979, with ''Mobile ...
'' model kit
s). An early example of this phenomenon was the cartoon character Little Lulu, who became licensed to products for adults, such as Kleenex facial tissue.
A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that distinguishes one seller's good or service from those of other sellers. Brands are used in business, marketing, and advertising for recognition and, importantly, to create an ...
of non-media products can achieve enough recognition and respect that simply putting its name or images on a completely unrelated item can sell that item. An example is
Harley-Davidson, Inc. (H-D, or simply Harley) is an American motorcycle manufacturer headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States. Founded in 1903, it is one of two major American motorcycle manufacturers to survive the Great Depress ...
Idol goods or idol merchandise are various types of merchandise related to
Celebrity is a condition of fame and broad public recognition of a person or group as a result of the attention given to them by mass media. An individual may attain a celebrity status from having great wealth, their participation in sports ...
("idols"). Consumption of idol goods is a significant part of the idol fandom.
Such goods create and reinforce a more physical connection between fans and celebrities.
Examples of common idol goods include
Stationery refers to commercially manufactured writing materials, including cut paper, envelopes, writing implements, continuous form paper, and other office supplies. Stationery includes materials to be written on by hand (e.g., letter paper) ...
items, compact discs
A photographic album or photo album, is a series of photographic prints collected by an individual person or family in the form of a book. Some book-form photo albums have compartments which the photos may be slipped into; other albums have heavy ...
, calendars, telephone cards, T-shirts (see also concert T-shirt
), key chains, lapel pins, and various other goods. Virtual idol
s can be considered an idol good themselves as they can be bought and sold.
An idol can have a tremendous effect on sales of merchandise, an example being
David Robert Joseph Beckham (; born 2 May 1975) is an English former professional footballer, the current president and co-owner of Inter Miami CF and co-owner of Salford City. Known for his range of passing, crossing ability and bending f ...
upon his arrival at Real Madrid in 2003, with an Adidas spokesman stating, "Put Beckham's name on any product and Real Madrid didn't stop selling".
In the 1960s
The Beatles were an English rock band, formed in Liverpool in 1960, that comprised John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Ringo Starr. They are regarded as the most influential band of all time and were integral to the develop ...
were pioneers in conventional retailing in music, setting up their own retail store in London, Apple Boutique, that sold Beatles merchandise.
Celebrity branding or celebrity endorsement is a form of advertising campaign or marketing strategy which uses a celebrity's fame or social status to promote a product, brand or service, or to raise awareness about an issue. Marketers use celeb ...
Promotional merchandise are products branded with a logo or slogan and distributed at little or no cost to promote a brand, corporate identity, or event. Such products, which are often informally called promo products, swag ( mass nouns), tcho ...
* Visual merchandising
A gadget is a mechanical device or any ingenious article. Gadgets are sometimes referred to as '' gizmos''.
The etymology of the word is disputed. The word first appears as reference to an 18th-century tool in glassmaking that was devel ...
A tie-in work is a work of fiction or other product based on a media property such as a film, video game, television series, board game, web site, role-playing game or literary property. Tie-ins are authorized by the owners of the original prop ...
Shoplifting is the theft of goods from an open retail establishment, typically by concealing a store item on one's person, in pockets, under clothes or in a bag, and leaving the store without paying. With clothing, shoplifters may put on items ...
* List of highest-grossing media franchises
Procter&Gamble merchandising standards
Promotion and marketing communications
Retail processes and techniques