The Power of Political Merch
Updated: May 14, 2020
Brands often feel hamstrung between getting political – risking the alienation of customers who disagree – or staying silent, risking condemnation from an increasingly politically activated consumer base. Data shows that consumers care, but doesn’t necessarily help brands know where to align politically. According to a study by Morning Consult and AdAge, 47% of all consumers have taken some kind of action inspired by a brand's political actions. Clever, non-partisan strategies for remaining in touch with the political process but not aligning with any particular party, candidate, or system of belief. DTC womenswear brand MM LaFleur, for example, is offering to loan out professional clothing at no cost for women who are currently running for office. On the flip side, consumers are increasingly interested in shopping with It’s been particularly lucrative for political candidates, who count merch sales as campaign contributions. Perhaps most notably, Donald Trump’s MAGA hats have become nearly synonymous with the man himself, and Trump’s team reports sales of them brought in at least $20 million between 2016 and 2018. In October, the LA Times reported Andrew Yang’s MATH hat had sold an estimated 32,000 units, generating $1.2 million – or 8% of campaign revenue. In a bit of streetwear x politics crossover, smaller brands, powered by platforms like Shopify, have also been able to go viral with DIY merch for a chosen political candidate – mostly for Vermont senator Bernie Sanders. Designs from limited edition t-shirts from brands like Come Tees, the Cactus Store, and Boot Boyz Biz are influencing official political merch from the candidate, who has begun releasing items that look less and less like the traditional campaign t-shirt.
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