One of my favorite snacks are MoonPies. They’ve been around since 1917 and have grown to become one of the most popular snack foods. Nowadays, over a million MoonPies are produced and sold every day! Over the years, the marketing folks at Chattanooga Bakery have learned a thing or two about creating awareness for their products. A key ingredient seems to be their hardcore merchandise marketing strategy.

How MoonPie Uses Merchandise:

1. On the back of MoonPie boxes, they’re selling shirts:

Moonpie-box

2. 20% of the real estate on moonpie.com is a call-to-action to buy MoonPie apparel, hats, and merch:

Moonpie-homepage Moonpie-homepage2

3. The header of their site (visible on every page within the site) has a giant button to “Buy MoonPies, t-shirts, and more!”

Moonpie-header

4. They give out free MoonPies, shirts, and hats at parades, carnivals, and events across the world.

Clearly, the company has given a lot of thought to their merchandise. It appears to be a key part of their marketing strategy. And in my opinion, it makes sense. Their product has gained cult status with MoonPie lovers around the world. Having a merchandise store for their die-hard evangelists is smart. It creates a stronger bond between the brand and their most important customers. What company wouldn’t want their most vocal proponents decked out in branded swag from head to toe? It’s like having a small army of walking advertisements!

If MoonPie wanted to take their merchandising to the next level, they’d start giving away stuff instead of selling it. While some die-hards will pay for the merch, there’s a lot of evangelists capable of generating word-of-mouth referrals and brand buzz who won’t pay for the swag. Give them free shirts and free MoonPies. It’s a trivial marketing expense with huge upside potential.