Reddit's Ambitious New Branded Merchandise Plan Has Major Expansion Potential
Reddit, the self-proclaimed “Front Page of the Internet,” is basically a collection of forums and communities based around just about any hobby or thing you can imagine. They’re called “subreddits.”
There are subreddits for baking, basketball, badgers, you name it.
To celebrate/promote a few specific subreddits and raise some money for their operating costs, Reddit introduced a line of merchandise like T-shirts, stickers and coffee mugs.
So far, the limited release will feature designs for r/askhistorians, r/animalsonreddit, r/fantasy, r/goforgold, r/pan and r/writingprompts.
The way the company is divvying up the money is interesting, too, choosing to share it equally among subreddits involved, rather than allocate it based on sales per group.
“For the pilot, net profits from swag sales will go to a community pot, where funds will be directed towards community-related expenses such as bot hosting, community events and gifts, and more,” the company said in a post. “If the pilot goes well and it’s something communities and redditors like, we’ll expand the program to more interested communities and build out more ways moderators can control what they sell and how they’d like to use the profits.”
The decision to host stores within certain subreddits is a bit like how other social networking platforms like Instagram and YouTube have integrated merchandise shops within certain profiles. Obviously, Reddit just tailored the program to its own distinct business model.
BIG NEWS! Join us for StabbyCon this January, and help us fund the Stabby Awards with the launch of our new subreddit merch shop! Also, an update for those of you who won a Stabby last year <3https://t.co/8FvcAcloT2
— Reddit Fantasy (@Reddit_Fantasy) October 8, 2021
It’s also fairly free in terms of how each community chooses its products and providers. Each subreddit is governed by a team of moderators who make sure the forum is running smoothly, posters and commenters stay on-topic, and no one breaks any rules.
According to Reddit’s original announcement about the merchandise, each subreddit’s moderator team will get to choose a vendor “that feels right for their community from a list of verified and approved merch sellers,” as well as how to allocate the money they raise.
The most interesting aspect here, though—from a promo industry standpoint anyway—might be the part about the program expanding to other subreddits if it goes well. Reddit has somewhere around 2.8 million subreddits, some of which have tens of millions of subscribers. Overall, the site has 52 million daily active users. That's a lot of potential audience for merchandise sales.
We should note that Reddit is a hotbed for internet argument, so there’s a chance that this doesn’t go as smoothly as the company's brass imagines. But, if it does, it’s an interesting step for such a huge name in internet culture to use branded merchandise to raise money for operating costs. And the scalability factor is good news for the promo companies on Reddit's approved vendors list.
I’ll just wait here patiently for the r/soccer gear.