As a search editor at Hoover’s, I regularly make updates to our people data. But, I also find myself keeping up with the sports news that crosses my desk–especially football news. The NFL is facing some challenges. Revenue from corporate sponsorships is down due to the weakened economy, and it looks as if a potential lockout in 2011 could be imminent. However, that isn’t stopping the NFL’s efforts in actively reaching out to its fan base and generating some lucrative merchandise licensing dollars.
The NFL recently launched a new clothing line targeted toward a specific fan demographic: women. In hopes to take advantage of this revenue base, the “Fit for You” collection was released and moves away from the unfashionable pink jerseys. Remember the photo of Jessica Simpson sporting a pink Tony Romo jersey during a Dallas Cowboys game? While Cowboys fans never considered her to be the team’s “good luck charm,” Simpson definitely brought a lot of attention to the pink, “girly” version of football jerseys.
With females comprising 44% of NFL fans, the new “Fit for You” line keeps the team’s actual jersey colors, but the products are cut and fitted for women. The line will also offer logoed jeans, fitted jackets, burnout tees, yoga-style pants, and cinched winter coats. These items are likely to appeal to more women versus the dated pink jerseys. I have to admit, I was not a fan of the pink jersey at all.
The NFL is smart to now make a wider variety of attire available for the female fan/shopper, especially since its women’s apparel business has doubled since 2004. This new collection will also branch out to juniors and maternity-ware. The timing of this clothing launch will help produce revenue for the current NFL season versus waiting around until 2011, where the uncertainty of the playing season still looms.
The NFL is also exploring the option of possibly selling some of its licensed merchandise through vending machines in order to make items more accessible to fans. This outlet could appeal to folks that may not get to regularly attend games, but are loyal followers. Items may include: shirts, hats, footballs, bobbleheads, and trading cards.
MainGate, Inc. already installed a Minnesota Vikings vending machine inside of the Mall of America in hopes that this latest venture will catch on elsewhere. The ideas of self-service and convenience are expected to interest fans, while teams (and the league) would benefit from an economical and innovative way to sell its licensed products.
The NFL is looking to work with Reebok, the organization’s official outfitter, regarding possible vending machine outlets. Fan accessibility seems to be the key selling point, and if proven successful, these vending machines could be installed inside of team stadiums too.
It still remains to be seen if a 2011 lockout will actually happen. I sure hope not because I love me some football. But, either way, the NFL is still exploring new ways to reach its ever-growing fan base, all while bringing in some additional money.