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Merch vs. Swag

Merch vs. Swag: Is There a Difference?

Merch vs. Swag:

Confused by the lingo? Unravel the mystery and discover how to choose the perfect branded gear!

If you’re just starting out in the promotional products business, you may have heard the words “swag” and “merch” used when talking about products and items. Some people use them interchangeably, while others use them to mean different types of products. What do they mean, and what types of clients use them? Learn more from the experts at Kaeser & Blair below.


“Swag” is another term for promotional products that are given away to potential clients or customers for free. Think of items you may get at a trade show or in a gift bag. While they can range in quality and price, they are always branded for the company and primarily serve the purpose of getting a brand’s name physically into the hands of potential customers.

The swag you recommend your clients largely depends on the event. Let’s say your client is planning on having a booth at a trade show – you could recommend a high-quality pen with a custom message, a notepad with their logo, or a tote bag that their customers can reuse. If your client is hosting a more formal event in their space, such as an awards ceremony or grand opening, you may recommend some more expensive items that will leave a larger impact. These can include anything from engraved wine glasses to Bluetooth speakers. The possibilities are endless.


Do you have a band t-shirt in your closet? An item with a quote from your favorite TV show? These items are often referred to as “merch.” Short for “merchandise,” merch is often sold by a company to their patrons or supporters. These tend to be higher-quality items than swag that people purchase because they are fans or want to support the company or group selling the items.

Examples of clients who may be looking for merch include restaurants, breweries, bands, and influencers.

When recommending items for clients who are interested in selling the products to their customers, first consider what their business is. For example, a brewery may be interested in high-quality pint glasses with an engraved logo. Then, consider what their patrons would want to purchase. If your client is an influencer and is known in their fan base for a popular or funny saying/quote, you may recommend putting that quote on a high-quality t-shirt, mug, or hat.

Learn more about the promotional products industry from Kaeser & Blair.

If you’re interested in learning more about the promotional products industry, or want to start your own promotional products business, contact Kaeser & Blair. We have been helping people find success in the industry for over 100 years. Learn more about who we are and what we do, then contact us or order a Business Owner Package to get started.