So what are the best products? Besides apparel, are there products that are maybe off-the-beaten path that would work well as well?
Schools, and the pro leagues for that matter, are always looking for new stuff. The home area is one area they've really been trying to grow. Another area that's been a major growth area is tailgating and party supplies. If I'm a widget maker what I should be doing is coming to them saying, 'I make these great widgets and it can benefit you and me because these are really unique widgets, and if I put a collegiate mark on it then it's going to make it that much more attractive and all that.' So basically it's do what you do well, and then the addition of the license hopefully you have an equation of 1+1=3.
I mean there are categories that pop up that didn't exist five years ago, and you just have to be on trend with what it is you're making. But again, the value to the school or to the licensor is that you if you're coming to them for a license you know your business and you should say, 'Wow. There's a real market opportunity with what I do,' and again the application of the collegiate mark will enhance it so that everybody makes money.
What about location of the business? These days do you have to be a bricks-and-mortar retailer within one mile of the school?
Obviously proximity to the school helps. There are a few 'national' schools whose merchandise sells all over. Notre Dame is the example a lot of people pull out, but schools like Ohio State and Texas have large, national followings.
With the advent of online retailing it's as though it was created for displaced fans and displaced alumni. It used to be, let's say I was a Northwestern fan living in New York. Where would I go to buy Northwestern stuff? Nowhere. But now I have access to any number of Web sites a way to acquire goods. I could be living in Tokyo and I can get my Northwestern stuff. So the advent of online retailing was really a Godsend to the sports business. It gave them a wonderful channel for the displaced fan.
-- Written by Laurie Kulikowski in New York.
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