The NFL has had a tough year. But the NFL equipment crushed him.
Sales of equipment such as jerseys, shirts and jackets increased by 40% compared to the previous year.
Fans bought merchandise even though the league was going through a season full of problems. Ratings fell 10%, owners revolted against league leadership, US The president went after the protesting players, and the concussion speech continued the sport.
According to CEO Doug Mack, the company that runs the NFL Shop, Fanatics, believes those sales numbers are a “very different form of Nielsen ratings” for the league.
But the incredible increase might have more to do with the business than the popularity of the NFL.
Fanatics started out as a retail store in Jacksonville, Florida in 1995. But today it markets itself as the world leader in licensed sports equipment.
She produces materials and manages e-commerce operations for almost every professional sports league in the United States. It has made similar deals with over 500 colleges and a growing number of international leagues and teams. He runs the NBA flagship store in New York and has even started making his own branded gear with his logo appearing alongside that of professional leagues in jerseys.
Mack attributed an exciting playoff season to the reason for Fanatics’ 40% increase in NFL jersey sales. The clashes featured gripping storylines, and the Super Bowl saw the Philadelphia Eagles compete for their first-ever victory over the mighty New England Patriots.
“You couldn’t have asked for a better set of NFL playoffs, results and storylines, and what we saw is that it translated directly into merchandise sales,” he said. -he declares.
But perhaps the real winner is the company’s new, more agile process for manufacturing its products. Fanatics merchandise is almost entirely made to order.
Related: The Steelers Player Who Represented The National Anthem Has The Best-Selling Jersey
Suppliers used to produce massive quantities of branded jerseys and equipment related to specific players. The product stayed there until someone ordered it. Equipment for less popular players would be produced in smaller quantities or not at all. Lots of goods were made and never sold.
“So often we had to buy goods a year in advance, and a year in sports, you don’t know what’s going to happen, who is going to be the hot team, who is going to be the hot player? you don’t even know the day before, ”Mack said.
While Fanatics keeps a small amount of gear on hand for the most popular players, like New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, most of what it makes is made to order. For example, it stores blank jerseys and adds player names when an order is placed. The model allows him to react quickly to trends.
The process allows them to capitalize when a less notable player suddenly becomes popular.
Pittsburgh Steelers player Alejandro Villanueva’s jersey sales skyrocketed when he stepped out of the tunnel during a pre-game performance of the national anthem. Being in the tunnel he broke up with his team, who had decided to stay in the locker room.
Villanueva is an offensive tackle, not exactly glamorous work in the NFL, and his jersey wouldn’t normally be as in demand or readily available.
Another example was when two Philadelphia Eagles players donned a latex German Shepherd masks to symbolize that they were the underdogs against the Patriots in the Super Bowl. Fanatics was able to quickly advertise and sell German Shepherd material.
Related: Why Some NFL Jerseys Get A Makeover
For the Super Bowl, Fanatics simulated championship samples for both teams. When the game clock hit zero and Philadelphia won, Fanatics uploaded the set of Eagles footage, pushed them to the NFL Shop site, and alerted fans.
As part of its partnership with the leagues, Fanatics has also focused on making better products. Instead of generic or stiff shirts, they offer quality textiles and more variety for women and children.
“Philadelphia waited forever to win the Super Bowl. It’s their very first Super Bowl, and the fans deserve a better product, ”Mack said.
CNNMoney (New York) First published on March 16, 2018: 6:55 a.m. ET