What Does a Field Merchandiser Do?

A hybrid sales and marketing position, field merchandisers are employed by record labels to ensure that the practical execution of marketing and promotional plans goes smoothly. While record label marketers plan out contests, giveaways, and other broad promotional strategies and commission materials such as posters, buttons, bumper stickers, and T-shirts, it’s the job of the field merchandiser to travel to store and venue locations, distribute the free marketing materials, collect sales data from independent vendors, and monitor the implementation of marketing strategies.

Sales experience, especially at a large record store, is invaluable to finding a position as a field merchandiser.

Field merchandisers travel from store to store, advising shop owners and managers on setup or display of merchandise and explaining the rules for current promotions such as giveaways and contests. If their record label has scheduled in-store appearances for artists, field merchandisers may be responsible for bringing in flyers, posters, and CDs for signing and promoting the appearance.

Field merchandisers may also attend both marketing and sales staff meetings, where they share their valuable perspective on how new promotions are being received by stores and customers, how certain goods are selling compared with others, and how all aspects of point-of-sale promotion could be improved. Field merchandisers who consistently bring helpful insights to the table are strong candidates for promotion.

Field Merchandiser at a Glance

Career Path

This is a part or full-time entry-level position that may require a small amount of experience in music retail, merchandising, marketing, or promotion. This position is one of several possible next steps for college marketing representatives. Field merchandisers are functionally members of the record label marketing department and can climb the department ladder to become marketing representatives and eventually marketing managers. They may also use their experience with merchandising and retail to join a record label sales department or a music merchandising company.

Due to the influence of online shopping and music streaming on physical retail sales and record store culture, the responsibilities of a field merchandiser are changing rapidly.

Finding Work

Sales experience, especially at a large record store, is very helpful for securing a position as a field merchandiser. Interning at a record label or working as a college marketing representative increase one's chances of finding a position. 

Professional Skills
  • Written and verbal communication
  • Marketing
  • Public speaking
  • Music promotion
  • Interpersonal skills (forming and maintaining professional relationships)
  • Critical thinking
Interpersonal Skills

Written and verbal communication are critical for field merchandisers, who not only need to clearly convey complex promotion and display instructions to store managers, but also to listen closely to the feedback of store managers and customers, and convey some of these thoughts and concerns to the rest of the marketing team.

Field merchandisers excel at making strong professional connections based on communication and reciprocity—and hopefully a shared love for music as well. They are observant and independent problem-solvers, keeping an eye out for anything that might become a problem down the road and taking care of it beforehand.

Work Life

Field merchandisers may work part- or full-time. Since their day-to-day work is largely independent their working hours may vary, although they generally fall within the open hours of the accounts (mainly record stores and music venues) with whom the field merchandiser works. Field merchandisers spend a large amount of time on the job traveling between accounts within their regional area, and so must be capable drivers who are comfortable with an occasional stay at a motel.