SBD/September 19, 2011/Marketing and Sponsorship

Rawlings Back In Football Industry After A Two-Decade Absence

Rawlings aims to have helmets available at Dicks Sporting Goods next year
St. Louis-based sporting goods manufacturer Rawlings started making football helmets last fall "after a 20-year absence” and the company said that it is “on track to capture between 6 percent and 7 percent market share in its first year," according to Lisa Brown of ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH. Officials added that its "unit sales are triple what the company forecast a year ago.” Rawlings Senior VP/Marketing Mike Thompson said that the company “spent nearly three years researching the market and developing its helmet before last year’s launch.” The initial strategy for “gaining traction in the helmet market was to attract the interest of sporting goods dealers who buy equipment for local sporting goods stores nationwide.” The helmets can be found at about “200 retailers nationwide” and Rawlings next year “plans to roll out the helmets at big-box retailers such as Dick’s Sporting Goods.” The company outfits players on 42 NCAA D-I football teams and 16 NFL teams, including a deal with Rams RB Steven Jackson. Thompson said that “signing Jackson was a coup.” Thompson: “If you’re going to lead in any category you have to have a buy-in from the highest level of the sport.” An industry analyst estimated that Chicago-based Riddell and Illinois-based Schutt Sports “combined have more than 90 percent market share." But Rawlings still views football helmets “as a lucrative opportunity for growth” (ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH, 9/18).
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