Published on September 21, 2018 by Molly Olsofka  

Marketing is defined as the activity, set of institutions, and processes for creating, communicating, delivering, and exchanging offerings that have value for customers, clients, partners, and society at large. In simpler terms, it is all about what consumers want. Sports merchandise companies take marketing very seriously because of the competition that exists. Whether online or in-stores, there are many places fans can buy gear of their favorite sports teams and players. With online companies like Amazon currently dominating e-commerce, online sports merchandise companies, such as Fanatics, are having to work a little harder to get their name out there.

Fanatics partners with all four of America’s major sports leagues, MLB, NHL, NBA and NFL, as well as several other college and major sports leagues. They recently signed a 10-year licensing deal with Nike and the NFL to make them the top manufacturer and distributor of all Nike-branded NFL fan merchandise starting in 2020. Fanatics is definitely among the top competitors in online sports merchandise retailers. Sports merchandise will always be a consumer need for most, but it comes down to which team or player is in high demand for the current period in time. This is where companies like Fanatics are getting it all right, in my opinion. Table 1 below gives a glimpse of just how much of a demand there is of sports gear for the four major sports, along with college football.

Merchandise Expenditure by Sport

Although there have been some increases and decreases of these numbers over the years, sports merchandise is something that never goes out of style and is also something every sports fan wants for their favorite team.

Fanatics is able to use this data, as well as their company’s data to determine how they should market better and also what product they should produce more of. My last blog post was on the importance of data analytics in sports, and I think data analytics is also of great importance for sports merchandise companies. They are able to look at data for each individual team sales to determine fan favorites and decide what is their best move going forward, in order to increase the company’s revenue.

An article I recently read was about how Fanatics is effectively utilizing media sources, including social media sites to market their products. A big tactic they are currently using that has worked so well for them thus far, is producing jerseys of the most talked about player or team, according to what is going on in the world of sports. The article used a recent example of NFL players choosing to kneel for the national anthem; however, Alejandro Villanueva, a Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman, stood for the anthem even though the rest of the team stayed in the locker room. His name began trending on twitter and other social media sites, and Fanatics saw this as a perfect opportunity.

Fanatics posted on their website and other media sources that they had Villanueva jerseys for sale. These jerseys were very quickly in high demand, and Fanatics manufactures worked hard to make as many of these jerseys as possible to get to customers in a short period of time. Before Villanueva’s actions during the national anthem, most people probably had never even heard his name. This is only one of many examples where Fanatics has spotted a current trend among sports fans because of a major or news breaking event, and used is as an opportunity to see sales and revenue skyrocket.

Many Americans use social media, so sports merchandise companies often times are able to see what is trending in sports at the time and market their merchandise accordingly. However, another reason Fanatics is starting to take the lead over websites like Amazon or other online retailers when it comes to sports gear, is because of their ability to manufacture and deliver merchandise so quickly. Many sports merchandise companies are not able to keep up with the current trends and high demands that follow. The instant gratification that fans are able to enjoy because of overnight shipping is only benefiting the company as well. Fanatics is definitely considering consumers’ needs and adjusting accordingly.

Based on the recent success of sports merchandise companies, like Fanatics, effective marketing is a very important aspect of a successful sports merchandise company. Appealing to consumer needs based on the latest trends is what it’s all about. Merchandise is a big way for fans to connect with their favorite teams and players, so finding the best ways to appeal to what they want will not only benefit the company, increase advertising for a team, but also allow fans to feel a sense of connection and pride by sporting their favorite team’s gear.

This blog post was written by Samford University Student Molly Olsofka. You can learn more about Molly Olsofka at http://www.linkedin.com/in/mollyolsofka

Photo Credit: http://sportsmarketanalytics.com.ezproxy.samford.edu/Research.aspx?Subrid=861

Works Cited

Schonbrun, Z. (2017, November 21). Fanatics, Maker of Sports Apparel, Thrives by Seizing the Moment. Retrieved from nytimes.com 

Rey, J. D. (2018, May 23). The NFL and Nike have signed a giant 10-year deal with online retailer Fanatics. Retrieved from recode.net [Link broken as of 6/3/2019]

Definition of Marketing. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ama.org