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A LOOK INSIDE NFL PROPERTIES -- FOR '94 AND BEYOND
Published March 29, 1995
Following a successful year in '94, NFL Properties reveals their merchandising plans for '95-96 in the current issue of SPORTING GOODS BUSINESS. INSIDE THE NUMBERS: A SGB survey of 207 retailers, representing 1,935 stores, shows that sales of NFLP merchandise increased 4.1% in '94. Department stores and mass merchants had the strongest year with sales growth of 10.1%, but sporting good stores/team dealers "were not as optimistic, signaling a growth" of only 1.1% over the past year. Due in part to the success of the Lions, Packers, Bears, and Vikings, the North Central region showed the greatest increase at 6.3%, with the West up 5%, the South up 2.7%, and the Northeast up 2%. The Northeast's weak showing was due largely to the decline of the Giants and Eagles, and the warm weather at Christmas. Of top selling brands, Starter led three of four categories, including headgear, fleece/sweatshirts, and outerwear (Greg Pesky, SGB, 3/95). BACK TO THE FUTURE: With sales possibly hitting a ceiling, NFLP plans to "focus more closely on the core equity of football and the NFL," including its three-tiered merchandising plan and "the program each tier umbrellas:" Performance (Pro Line), Lifestyle (Throwbacks), and Family (NFL Kids, NFL at Home, Back to School, and Game Day). Part of the plan is also to add large apparel companies such as Reebok, Russell, and VF Corp to reduce the "base of licensees" and "create a greater scarcity" of product to "revitalize demand." NFLP VP/Worldwide Retail Licensing Jim Connelly: "There is a feeling now that our product is too spread out, that there is not enough innovation upstairs and too much dumping of our product downstairs." Connelly cites Reebok's "marketing prowess" as a key component to the NFL Pro Line, and says NFLP will continue to push jerseys by giving more interpretations of the uniform, similar to the Throwbacks. NFLP Dir of Youth Licensing Peter Lapointe said NFL Kids is an area for more growth. Lapointe says home products, back-to-school merchandise, and video games are "untapped and growing areas" that are perfect for children. Lapointe also wants promotions that bring a "broad spectrum of corporations together to drive" retail sales. Lapointe: "Let's use McDonald's ads on Fox to direct purchases at JCPenney stores where all kids licenses are displayed in one shop concept." Also stressed is "NFL at Home," which includes domestic products, electronics and home furnishings, among others (Alisa Klemm, SGB, 3/95 issue). GONE HOLLYWOOD: NFLP Dir of Marketing Doug Quinn feels the "Hollywood Factor" or the "link between TV drama and sports may be growing stronger." For example, expect to see NFL players with cameos on "Melrose Place" and other Fox shows, as well as NFL merchandise placements. Quinn sees this as a way to appeal to women, much as the way the film "Little Giants" worked with children. Besides Hollywood, the division is also "committed to supporting sales at the retail level." NFLP Senior Dir of Marketing Ray Katz: "We really feel we are way ahead of the other leagues in the area of retail support." The league will continue with successful promos like the "Painted Bus Promotion" where fans win a trip to an NFL game on the painted bus and receive a Starter bag and a tailgate party catered by McDonald's. Katz also plans to work closer with retailers like JC Penney, Foot Locker, Macy's and The Sports Authority regarding the way "we present our product in the store, and the way we support it in an environment that is appealing, exciting and sets up apart." In addition, NFLP may look to "design permanent and semi- permanent fixturing similar to that offered" by Reebok and Nike (Alisa Klemm, SGB, 3/95). 1994 WINNERS: The issue gives its top three prizes for the SGB/NFLP Retail Merchandising Awards. First prize went to Carson Pirie Scott and VP Chuck Luckenbill for "his visual quarterbacking of the retailer's NFL-specific display at its Chicago location" (SGB, 3/95 issue).