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Can Harry & Meghan Cut It As Entrepreneurs?

Harry & Meghan are the Decade’s Newest Entrepreneurs. Could merchandising help make the SussexRoyals financially independent?

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Harry & Meghan are the Decade’s Newest Entrepreneurs. Could merchandising help make the SussexRoyals financially independent?

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Can Harry & Meghan Cut It As Entrepreneurs?

Harry & Meghan are the Decade’s Newest Entrepreneurs. Could merchandising help make the SussexRoyals financially independent?

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In Harry and Meghan the brand recognition of the British Royal Family has joined forces with American entrepreneurialism. This power couple has an exciting new business life ahead of them as the SussexRoyals. We’re about to see what this combination can achieve.

Their combined royalty and celebrity will generate a lot of interest, but what do they need to make sure they build a solid brand? How can they stay authentic and generate the revenue they need?

One revenue-driving route for new brands is through merchandising. As Harry’s father has shown with his Duchy brand, this doesn’t have to be MAGA baseball caps. It can be considered and elegant, and perhaps even sustainable.

Of course, it may not generate the millions they need, but thoughtfully branded clothing and accessories can create an income and help to support worthy causes.

Seeing the recent trademark applications led me to wonder whether Harry and Meghan were thinking about merchandising?

Spreadshirt is Europe’s biggest merch firm, so we see many creative people using merchandise to monetize their designs. Some of our highest commission earners can generate up to €½m to €1m a year, but this takes a relevant idea and hard work.

So what should 2020’s newest entrepreneurs consider if they’re going to make merch work for their brand? We have three top tips: have something relevant to say, find your space in the market and be aware of sustainability. Oh, and don’t bank on popularity equalling sales.

1. Have something relevant to say

As a couple Harry and Meghan have already demonstrated integrity and authenticity. They support causes close to their hearts and they have both worked in sectors outside of the Royal Firm. That they have managed to leave the Royal Family without too much rancour shows that they can be decisive and deliberate.

Merch can be an incredible way promote a worthy cause. If they don’t use merch to promote their own brand, it might come in to play supporting others. It can connect the online and offline worlds in a way that spreads the word about a charity or organisation in real life. Even niche causes can capitalise if they create something their supporters can relate to and reflects their message and identity.

2. Find your Space in the Market

One successful example of a brand which doesn’t cheapen the royal association is Prince Charles’s Duchy of Cornwall brands. Harry’s father has already carved out a space in the organic, sustainable sector. SussexRoyal could learn from this; although they probably need to avoid directly duplicating it, if only to preserve family relations. No posh tea for them!

Harry & Meghan are unlikely to start selling monogrammed socks and logoed t-shirts. Vanity-wear hoodies in the style of college or university sweatshirts will sell, but is not going to reflect the desired SussexRoyal brand image. So they will need to find some merch and designs which reflect their personalities and positions.

For example; Victoria Beckham has managed to find a space which reflects her personality and position. She opted for a high-fashion position over merch and set about building a brand elegant enough to show at Fashion Weeks across the world. It’s a time-consuming process though. Despite being extremely famous as a Spice Girl, VB took a decade to build her fashion brand and needed significant investment.

3. Watch out for sustainability pitfalls

Sustainability is a huge hot potato in the fashion world. It’s an enormous subject and one which most retailers, from pure-play ecommerce merchants to grand fashion houses are grappling with.

Merchandising has complex supply chains. Sustainability covers the provenance of the cotton and working conditions, through to the packaging of the merch and delivery vehicles. Production and delivery are the corner stones of successful merchandising.

The Harry and Meghan brand includes a focus on sustainability, but it’s one they’ve been caught out by before. They’ll need to consider how sustainable SussexRoyal brand can be and be wary of the pitfalls.

And there’s one final thing: don’t assume that a high follower count automatically equals robust sales. Having something to say and knowing your position in the market are more likely to breed success than a large fan base. @Arii, an Instagram star with 2.6m followers, found this out recently when she only managed to sell 36 t-shirts to her fans.

Harry and Meghan are the decade’s newest entrepreneurs. They have a globally recognised brand and something to say. Merchandising could be an integral part of their financial independence, if they get it right.

Philip Rooke is CEO of Spreadshirt.

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Can Harry & Meghan Cut It As Entrepreneurs?

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