SBD/March 4, 2013/Marketing and Sponsorship

New Era, MLB See Quick Sales Success With Latest Line Of Caps Targeted To Younger Demo

New Era has introduced "a line of fitted caps for spring training that the company says are 40 percent lighter than traditional on-field caps and are designed to allow perspiration to evaporate faster, keeping players cooler," according to Ken Belson of the N.Y. TIMES. New Era and MLB said that early retail sales of the caps, which "cost $34.99 online, were a hit with fans." About half of the caps available on MLB.com "were sold during the first two weeks after they went on sale." New Era Senior Dir for On-Field Products Todd Sokolowski said, "Even to hit 10 percent in a week is amazing, so 50 percent in less than two weeks is phenomenal." Belson notes MLB divides the "royalties from the sale of licensed merchandise among the 30 teams," and each team's share last year was nearly $15M. Discussions to introduce the current line of caps "began about 18 months ago when representatives of New Era approached Major League Baseball to discuss replacing the stretch fit caps -- which some players disliked -- that are used in spring training and in batting practice." MLB liked that the caps "were more comfortable, but also wanted them to have a new look to appeal to younger fans." New Era came up with "jazzier designs that incorporated team logos rarely put on caps." MLB Exec VP/Business Tim Brosnan said, "It has to be performance-based; that’s the eye of the needle that needs to be threaded." But he added, “Our cap is very popular as a fashion item, so these are tailored to a younger audience." Each team "decided on its own design" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/4).
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