A&W's Super-Expensive Apparel Drop Is Designed to Break Even and Build the Brand
At this point, it’s no longer front-page news that a fast food restaurant has created merchandise that goes beyond a T-shirt here or a tote bag there. The streetwear and capsule era of food marketing is here.
What does stand out among stories like this is when these products fetch enormous prices, like, say, a $715 pair of bedazzled boots from A&W.
— A&W Restaurants (@awrestaurants) September 29, 2021
A&W played up its own classic Americana aesthetic with items like baseball caps and wool varsity jackets, while still appealing to a modern market.
“People didn’t expect this from us,” A&W senior director of marketing Liz Bazner told Adweek. “It’s really coming out of left field.”
That’s partially true just because A&W isn’t quite on the level of ubiquity as fast-food heavyweights like McDonald's or Burger King. But Bazner and her colleagues are clearly confident that the A&W fanbase is committed enough to shell out big money for products. That aforementioned varsity jacket is $500.
A&W’s merch selection includes a $500 wool varsity jacket and $715 bedazzled shoes.https://t.co/aot1HIMcoS
— Adweek (@Adweek) October 3, 2021
Here’s the twist, though: Adweek reported that A&W is selling all of these products at cost. The whole thing is meant as a “brand builder rather than a money maker.”
For example, an insulated fanny pack designed with Savant Studios and Henry Dry Goods reportedly cost $350, which was what A&W paid its creative partners.
The whole line is designed for the fall, with A&W dubbing it “cheddar weather”—a take on “sweater weather.”
— A&W Restaurants (@awrestaurants) September 22, 2021
“What if we tried to own a season, and give our fans something to look forward to year-after-year?” Bazner told Adweek.
That just might work, and could stand out from the periodic capsule drops that other companies have turned to. Rather than quarterly drops, or even more frequent releases, A&W's merch drops would be once-a-year events, meaning it’s more likely for fans to spend the relatively big bucks come fall.
We should note that A&W is hedging its bets a little by also releasing year-round merchandise at much more affordable price points, like T-shirts for $12.99 or $7.99 hats.
It’s somewhat of a gamble, but the fact that it’s not designed as a profit-driving measure is interesting.
So far, everything on the Cheddar Weather store is still up for sale, save for one T-shirt. Maybe as the temperatures keep cooling off, fans will start thinking about those boots and jackets more seriously.