Fanatics debuts new service
Fanatics has steadily evolved from online retailer to licensee to manufacturer in recent years. Now the company wants to use what it has learned about its customers to help its partners.
Fanatics rolled out a new service last month that will take its data analytics, which has been the underpinning of its e-commerce business for years, and share it with teams and leagues so that they can better understand how to market to their fans.
The new program is being called Fantelligence and it was introduced to nine of Fanatics’ best college clients at the company’s West Coast headquarters during a two-day summit. The first day was reserved for Fanatics’ executives to talk about how they gather and use data from their shoppers. The second day was spent sharing best practices from the nine campuses.
Fanatics brought in many of its highest-ranking officials, from CEO Doug Mack to Chief Commercial Officer Cole Gahagan and Chris Orton, co-president of direct-to-consumer business who oversees all marketing.
In a lot of the conversations we have with universities, one area we thought we could unlock was recognizing the value in data.
They credited Chris Prindiville for creating the concept for Fantelligence and organizing the summit. Prindiville and Derek Eiler came over in 2017 to lead Fanatics’ college business as part of the Fermata Partners acquisition. Both Prindiville and Eiler were longtime executives at Collegiate Licensing Co. before starting Fermata, so their ties to the college space run deep.
“In a lot of the conversations we have with universities, one area we thought we could unlock was recognizing the value in data,” Prindiville said. “It’s always interesting to show athletic departments who their top-10 customers are across Fanatics, and it’s always interesting to see if they recognize any of those names. These are people spending thousands of dollars on team-specific merch, so you’d think the schools would know most of those names, but they often don’t.”
It’s that gap in knowledge about a college’s fan base that prompted Fanatics to introduce Fantelligence to its college partners first. It will soon migrate the program to pro clubs.
Schools that attended the two-day showcase of Fanatics’ new data analytics service:
■ North Carolina
■ Notre Dame
■ Texas A&M
Fanatics is still determining how often it will host this type of summit, but the company intends to keep the groups small. The initial two-day college event drew Clemson, Florida, Miami, North Carolina, Notre Dame, Oklahoma, Oregon, Texas and Texas A&M, some of the biggest sellers on Fanatics’ college platform.
At its core, Fantelligence will take basic customer data from Fanatics’ college business, which is up 20 percent this year, and present it to the schools it works with. That information will include name, address and buying history of the customer. For example, did the shopper buy anything in addition to a college T-shirt?
The schools can then match up the Fanatics customers with their own fan database to identify new fans. The thinking is that Fanatics’ massive reach will uncover new fans for schools to market to, primarily to sell tickets and solicit donations.
Most schools have a database of fans that comes from primary and secondary ticket buyers, donors and alumni lists. The information from Fanatics is expected to provide schools with another rich source of fan data that will grow each school’s sales and marketing opportunities.
Fanatics is presenting Fantelligence to its partners as a service, so it does not cost extra.
Rick Steinbacher, senior associate athletic director for marketing and corporate sponsorship at North Carolina, said adding another source of information goes a long way toward helping schools understand who their fans are.
“It’s powerful to put all of that fan data together,” Steinbacher said. “We met with a professional franchise a year ago and they’re at 18 sources of data. We’re excited to think about what we can do with four. I can only imagine what we could do with that many.”