The Honest Truth About What Customers Want in a T-Shirt

It's a Customer Shirt – The Honest Truth About What Customers Want in a T-Shirt
We often have preconceived ideas of what customers really want in a product. But how? Did we ever really both to ask them?
We often have preconceived ideas of what a customer shirt should be. But why? Did we ever really both to ask them? Here’s an honest look at what customers really want.
The Heidorn Report: Merch Research & Strategy Guide

If you want to be good at running a t-shirt business, one thing you should be expertly good at is knowing what your customers really want in a t-shirt.

You can be good at taking charge of the business and the finance side of things.

But if you know only very little of what your specific market wants in a t-shirt or what people in general look for when they buy their tee-shirts, then you’re not yet ready to start a t-shirt business.

You have to stop planning about your business right this moment and just take time to study what customers want in a t-shirt.

Research is probably the most important part of business.

For starters, here are some basic things that you need to know about how a customer shirt is chosen.

Quality Is Still More Important Than Affordability

You might think the regular customer won’t notice the quality of your t-shirts because they’re too enamored by the artwork.

Or, you might think that they’d like to purchase your customers shirts right away (and in bundles) because they’re so dirt cheap.

Well, cheapness is only a big plus if it’s the kind of tee that they have to wear one time only (like required family reunion shirts, school event shirts, etc).

But if it’s something that they’d wear on a date or to work, meaning it’s something that’s really reflects their tastes, then cheapness in quality is actually a big no-no.

“It’s easier to explain price once than to apologize for quality forever.”

Zig Ziglar

You should not underestimate the customers’ expertise when it comes to choosing good quality t-shirts.

They will check certain details like the neck bindings, the stitches, whether or not there are loose threads, and if the fabric feels smooth and light or stiff as leather.

So the next time you’re thinking of purchasing the cheapest customer shirts for your t-shirt printing business, choose the ones that you’d be willing to wear.

That doesn’t mean you have to choose the most expensive t-shirts, you just have to choose something that would pass the basic standard of a regular buyer.

Meaning, the t-shirts should not be too stiff, too thick, etc.

You get the picture.

The Heidorn Report: Merch Research & Strategy Guide

Simple Designs Get More Love

Always have, always will.

Some newbie t-shirt designers think that the more detail and color they put in their design, the more people will feel that they get more bang for their buck.

But consumers are actually more attracted to simpler customer t-shirt designs.

They just love t-shirt design that’s simple and straightforward.

This applies to both the actual t-shirt design and the printed t-shirt artwork.

Why is that so?

Maybe it’s the influence of the west or maybe people’s tastes are now somehow evolved, or maybe consumers favor simpler designs because of scientific reasons.

Simple designs often get more love. Sometimes the message is more important than the design.
Simple designs often get more love. Sometimes the message is more important than the design.

Simple artworks and texts are more impactful (and therefore, memorable) because complex designs confuse people.

The process of getting information on an overly designed shirt is strenuous because **we’re already having information overload** from all the other sources of information – TV, internet, billboards, etc.

But the goal is not simply dumbing down artwork, it’s something much more than that!

It’s a well-known psychological fact in design that when there’s less information, the message/beauty is amplified.

That’s why “less is more” is so popular because it works.

Think of Apple’s logo (or any logo from good brands) to remind you that you don’t have to put so much information on a customer shirt.

Too much detail, too many colors, too many frills, too many kinds of textures are not helpful because they will just cancel each other out and become one blob of clutter.

The Heidorn Report: Merch Research & Strategy Guide

Eco Friendly Print on Demand Shirts Are a Big Plus

You may not want to join the eco-friendly bandwagon because you think those businesses are just pretentious.

But you know what? It might be worth looking at creating eco-friendly customer shirts.

There’s a reason why eco friendly print on demand t shirts have been popping up everywhere.

So it may be worth the trouble because not only will you have a more responsible way of doing your business.

Your customers will not only love t-shirt designs from you, but also love your eco-friendy t-shirts, too!

Statistics show that people (especially Millennials) have their loyalty on businesses that support causes and show social responsibility.

That means that if you’re choosing eco friendly print on demand t shirts and you’re doing t-shirt production with care for nature, you’re not just doing Mother Earth a favor.

You’re doing your business (and yourself!) a big favor, too.

“Be the change you want to see in the world.”

Mohandas Gandhi

So how can you become an eco friendly print on demand t shirts company?

First, use eco-friendly materials.

Choose recycled hemp fibers, polyester, and other sustainable textiles.

When it comes to cotton, make sure you only buy those from organic cotton because non-organic cotton uses over ¼ of all insecticides on the planet.

Have you also considered using eco friendly tee shirt packaging for your customer shirts?

Eco friendly tee shirt packaging is also likely to become a legal requirement at some point, so maybe it’s better to start now?

Next, you can check how you work.

Are you using too much paper in processing orders?

Are you still using plastic bags?

Finally, you can donate a portion of your profit to charities.

Now, please be honest with your claims.

Do not put a seal that you’re 100% organic when you’re not or else you’ll feel rotten inside and out.

There’s nothing more despicable than a businessman who fakes eco-friendliness just to get more profit.

Shirts Should Make Them Cool

Many people actually do buy basic tees from Cotton On or The Gap.

But it doesn’t mean that they’re not thinking about how their personality is being reflected by their garments.

Customer shirts are a reflection of the wearer’s personality.

This is arguably the major factor on how customers choose their shirts.

Sure, there are those who buy shirts just for the sake that they’ll have something to wear.

T-shirts are just purchased for functional reasons.

But the majority of us who are conscious buyers and choosers of our shirts, we choose shirt designs based on our personality or the personality we want to create for ourselves.

Some of us just love t-shirt design and want to show that off.

For example, if someone is a filmmaker or a film enthusiast, he’d easily buy a shirt that has a Hitchcock print on it.

Once that person wears it, he/she wants to be associated to Hitchcock and filmmaking.

Ultimately, what the wearer wants to say is that “I am a fan of Hitchcock. I am cool.

Identifying your niche market is crucial to success with customer shirts.
Identifying your niche market is crucial to success. You need a clearly defined audience.

Same applies to band t-shirts.

Fans go crazy over these customer shirts because they want to broadcast to people their coolness.

So they buy t shirt designs pretty much every time a new one comes out.

But it’s not just coolness, it could be angst, calmness, silliness, and other things people want to be recognized for.

So how should a t-shirt entrepreneur like you deal with this well-known fact?

Find the people who love t-shirt design and ask them what they like.

Identify your market and get to know what makes them feel good (and not just the fabric) when they wear your shirts.

There is no t-shirt store that caters to everyone’s personality and needs.

Find your niche and offer them t-shirts they can’t resist.

The Heidorn Report: Merch Research & Strategy Guide

Tee Shirt Packaging Matters

How you package your t-shirts is as important as the actual design of the t-shirt especially if you’re trying to create a brand.

Case in point: Johnny Cupcakes.

Johnny Cupcakes calls itself as the world’s first t-shirt bakery.

Customer shirts straight from the oven!

Their t-shirt artwork designs are awesome but they’re not really something to die for.

However, they’re killing it with their concept.

The designs of the t-shirts are incorporated in the tee shirt packaging, which is under the big concept of the brand (bakery).

They have t-shirts in cupcake boxes, ice cream containers, cereal boxes, and a lot of other creative tee shirt packaging.

Many people love t-shirt designs from Johnny Cupcakes but it’s the incredible tee shirt packaging that makes it an instant present.

They don’t need to gift wrap their shirts because they are already in presentable containers.

There are also many musicians who put their t-shirt merch in creative packaging like a vinyl sleeve.

“Good packaging protects your product. Great packaging protects your brand.”


What should you do as a t-shirt entrepreneur?

If you have a store, make sure you have a solid brand.

Then, incorporate your brand to your t-shirt packaging.

Do not just put your tees in a cheap, forgettable plastic bag!

If you’re a t-shirt printer who prints t-shirts for other people’s businesses, offer them a t-shirt packaging option.

Advise them first hand that the design of their t-shirt should match the design of their tee shirt packaging.

You’re helping them improve their brand, you’re earning more in return.


Now that you’ve read some important facts about customers’ preferences in customer shirts, apply them to your t-shirt designs and t-shirt business as a whole.

Because (are you ready for the most shocking truth?) in order for your t-shirt business to flourish, the only secret is to make your customers fall in love with your shirts.

It’s no easy feat but if you follow all the things mentioned above and then some, you’re on your way.

This is just the first step of a hundred steps.

You have to keep reading and interacting with your customers and analyzing to find out what they really, really, really want.

The Heidorn Report: Merch Research & Strategy Guide
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