Giving custom merchandise to your customers is like offering a personalized concierge service at a luxury hotel, ensuring a tailored and unforgettable experience for everyone. 

If you seek to go beyond the conventional routes to make a lasting impact on your customers, an out-of-the-box approach is optimal. 

McKinsey & Company stresses the importance of customer experience in the automotive world. 

While reliability and superior driving performance count, customer experience is the evolving front line. 

Investing in custom merch has become the need of the hour to make your brand memorable and win a loyal customer base. 

This guide digs into the popular merch types and how they complement your car dealership. 

The Psychology Behind Custom Merchandise at Car Dealerships 


Did you know people are 2.5 times more likely to remember a company that gives promotional products over ads?

Another stat reveals 88% of customers who receive a promotional product could recall the advertiser’s name.

While the figures are worth considering, what psychology influences people to associate feelings of positivity with custom products? 

The reasons include but aren’t limited to the following. 

Social Proof 

Research unfolds that people use information from others as cues to make their purchase decisions. 

In other words, word of mouth plays a crucial role in buying decisions of others. 

Customers who receive and use the custom merchandise become walking advertisements of that dealership. 

People are more likely to see the brand merch, which, in turn, generates social proof - a phenomenon where the behavior of others influences people. 

Witnessing others with car dealership merch enhances the perception of the dealership’s reliability and popularity. 


While social media gives endless opportunities to businesses, branding in the age of social media is no cakewalk. 

With numerous competitors vying for attention, standing out requires a strategic approach. 

Thankfully custom merchandise offers an excellent method to make your dealership more noticeable and hence memorable. 

Giving customers a tangible item to keep and use creates a lasting reminder of their experience with your brand. 

This boosts brand recall and customer retention. 

The more customers interact with the merch, the more they’ll remember the dealership and consider it for purchases in the future. 

Personalization & Sense of Belonging

When customers wear and use the dealership's merchandise, it reinforces the connection to that dealership. 

Besides, it allows them to strengthen their affiliation with the automotive community. 

Not only does it create a sense of belonging, but it also boosts customer engagement and satisfaction. 

Brand Association

Custom merchandise is a physical representation of a brand. 

Customers receiving this merch develop a deeper connection and association with the car dealership. 

This fosters loyalty and promotes positive brand attributes. 

Building healthy customer relationships leads to positive word-of-mouth recommendations - a win-win for dealerships down the line. 


Studies show we’re inherently inclined to react positively to a gift, even if it is unsolicited. 

The principle of reciprocity suggests that when someone receives a favor, they feel obliged to return it. 

Giving custom merchandise allows you to trigger a sense of reciprocity in customers. 

This way, they feel compelled to make their future purchases from your dealership over others. 

Popular Types of Custom Merchandise 


Custom merchandise refers to personalized products created by the dealership to promote their brand. 

These are tailored to the dealership’s logo or image and the vehicles they sell. 

The purpose is to enhance the customer experience and make them feel valued. 

Here are some popular options. 

  • Accessories. Car dealerships can customize vehicle decals, lanyards, license plates, and keychains with their logo, dealership name, or contact information.  
  • Drinkware. This includes the dealership logo on water bottles, travel tumblers, and mugs. The dealerships can sell these items as complimentary gifts to gain customer trust and loyalty. 
  • Apparel. Everybody loves a free piece of apparel - your customers are no different. You can give hats, polo shirts, jackets, T-shirts, and caps featuring your dealership’s name or logo. 
  • Vehicle-specific Merch. Numerous car dealerships also sell specialized merch related to specific vehicle models. This may include model-specific car seats, keychains, covers, and more. 
  • Other items. Dealerships can sell numerous other unconventional items, too. These may include magnets, sunshades, car wash items, snow scrapers, notepads, air fresheners, roadside assistance items, and calendars featuring the logo. 

How Custom Merchandise Gives Brands a Boost


Being a local Toyota, Nissan, or Honda dealer is enough to attract customer attention. However, this holds true only to a certain extent. 

Dealers seeking to differentiate themselves for better customer experience, hassle-free purchase process, and considerate staff need to go a step further.

Here’s when custom merchandise comes into the picture. 

Improve Service Department Reputation 

Boosting the reputation of the service department is no easy feat. 

Dealerships rely on a fair share of customers to gain a reputation. 

A few dealerships often achieve this by reducing the costs of popular services. 

However, this only wins them a tag for cost-effective services, not the best ones. 

Giving custom merchandise without lowering the value of services is an excellent way to gain a positive reputation among customers. 

Budget-Friendly Marketing

Local car dealerships do not always have a massive budget for marketing. 

As such, promotion can be challenging without a strategic approach. 

Thankfully, custom merchandise costs less but leaves a lasting impact on your customers

On top of that, affordable promotional materials encourage you to repeat your dealership’s exposure. 

Creative Advertising 

Because custom merch is an inexpensive way to advertise your dealership, you can be as creative as you want. 

The choices are endless, from customizing T-shirts to stickers and hand towels to pens. 

What makes these items more attractive for customers is that they’re multi-purpose. 

So instead of investing in costly social media ads, tangible advertising is a great way to get your customers talking about your dealership. 

Stand Out From the Competition 


With numerous dealerships collaborating with the same car brands as you, standing out from the competition is crucial to boost sales. 

Here’s when customized merch can help you pique customer interest. 

Giving them multipurpose items builds trust and authority, allowing you to strengthen the bond with customers. 

Final Words 

Custom merchandise is worth considering if you seek to leverage personalization and develop a deeper emotional connection with your customers. 

It helps you outpace your competitors and build a lasting impression on customers. 

Besides, it sparks conversations and boosts your visibility in the dynamic automotive market. 

What’s more, investing in custom merch is an excellent marketing strategy if you’re starting out and have a tight budget. 

After all, customers using your merchandise become brand ambassadors by sharing their positive experiences with others. 


How Do I Create My Own Brand Merchandise?

It begins by brainstorming cool merch ideas and finding the right options for your customers. What would be useful or exciting for them?

Think outside of the box so you can stand out and resonate with potential customers.

How Can I Print My Merch?

Once you have a good idea of what you're looking for reach out and we can help with the rest!