Festival season is upon us, which means organisers everywhere are looking for additional revenue streams to boost their bottom line. Often overlooked, merchandise sales can be key to offsetting last-minute costs. But to maximise revenue from your festival merch, you need to understand what swag fans are most interested in — and how much they’ll pay for it.

A recent study from atVenu, a merch management platform used by thousands of festivals, artists, and venues worldwide, breaks down the festival merch trends you need to know to improve your sales.

How much do fans spend on music festival merch?

Festival-goers spend an average of $13.81 (€11.88) per person. This may not sound like much, but when you consider that the average spend per transaction is $50 (€43), it’s easy to see why festivals make $421,000 (€362,000) in average total gross merch sales.

So, what is the merchandise that fans are spending the most on? Surprisingly, artist merchandise only averages 26% of total gross merch sales for most festivals. More general event merch is more popular at 61% of gross sales. So while attendees might be drawn to your festival thanks to a specific headlining talent, when it comes to merch, fans are more interested in purchasing items with your festival’s brand front and centre.

What festival music genres sell the most merch?

Another way to improve your merch sales is by looking at the genres of music festivals who sell the most merch.

Alternative festivals are the biggest merch selling genre, with an average of $466,000 (€400,000) in total gross merch sales. This is likely due to alternative’s all-encompassing definition of any lineup that spans multiple genres with major label artists. Rock or metal festivals came in second with an average of $313,000 (€269,000) spent on merch, and country festivals came in third with $278,000 (€239,000).

On the other hand, the lowest-spending genres were EDM, reggae, and indie. EDM festivals averaged $193,000 (€165,000) in total gross merch sales, while reggae averaged $104,000 (€89,000). Indie festivals, due to their tendency towards smaller, more intimate crowds, saw an average of $103,000 (€88,500).

The data also gives us insight into which types of merch were most popular in each genre. EDM and indie fans are much more likely to buy merch with festival branding, rather than artist branding. Two-thirds of alternative, country, and reggae fans also bought festival merch rather than artist swag. In fact, rock and metal fans were the only people who preferred to invest in artist-specific merch, with just 29% of merch sales spent on festival-branded items.

What does this mean for your merchandise business?

You can use these baselines to estimate what percentage of your fans will buy merch and how much they’ll spend. That way, you can more accurately stock your merch tent and avoid overspending.

If your festival has a broad variety of genres, emphasise alternative and rock/metal merch to please the fans most likely to buy. If you’re running an EDM festival consider over-indexing in festival-branded merch, as your fans likely won’t buy items featuring individual artists. And if you’re counting on your headliner artists to bring in big merch sales, reconsider. Remember that for most festivals, headliner merch only averages 26% of total gross sales.

Want to make your spend even more effective? Learn how to attract the most valuable fans with your music festival marketing.

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