May 24, 2011
Ready, Set, Sell
Abby Heugel, Managing Editor

Are you ready for some football?

If you want to score some sporty sales, you better be. Become an active player and get ready for tailgating season as the fans do – in other words, become a fanatic and it’s a win-win for everyone involved. Need some stats to prove it?

Stephen Ross, an assistant professor in Minnesota’s Division of Recreation and Sports Studies, found that tailgating can be addictive – and it has nothing to do with all the alcohol that’s consumed.

“Once people start doing it, it’s very hard to stop,” Ross said. “They continue to do it, and continue to do it for a very long time. We found a fairly substantial number, maybe a quarter of the people, who had been doing it for 20-plus years.”

Why is this important for retailers? Because tailgating fans are passionate and look for any way to show love for their team – decorations, wearables, partyware – and will go to great lengths to prove their dedication. With the increase and popularity of football tailgating season, it’s the perfect time for retailers to get on board. And with sports fans pledging their allegiance to schools year after year, it’s a great way to encourage stocking up for that next big game.

Old College Try
According to Kelly Karrmann, associate communications manager for Creative Converting, their research showed collegiate spirit and attendance at sports events has been growing considerably each year. Specifically, the increase in tailgating has become a “keeping up with the Jones” event for college football fanatics. From students, alumni and parents of college students, many are going to great lengths to show their school pride – and tailgating at football games has become the quintessential way to display allegiance to a school.

“From this information, we knew we wanted to create a more modernized collegiate line that really focused on the school and provided an updated, spirited canvas to showcase food and drink,” Karrmann said. “We also knew paired with our existing sports-themed tableware, decor, and wearables, the ultimate collegiate sports party could be achieved.”

Today, “personalizing the party” has become a common trend and college sports are no exception to the rule. Sports fans want to broadcast their school spirit in any way they can and are willing to go above and beyond by personalizing their parties, making them even more memorable for guests.

“The idea of ‘personalizing your party’ means making the event entirely representative of a consumer’s passion, and in this case, a college or collegiate sport,” Karrmann said. “Hosts today want to ‘wow’ guests with attention to detail and it’s visible in the food preparation, how it’s displayed and the tableware and decor that’s used.”

Creative Converting’s new collegiate program consists of the top 25 CLC (Collegiate Licensing Company) ranked schools and the top 10 tailgating universities across the country. Karrmann said items in the line include disposable tableware – a dinner plate, luncheon plate, napkins (two sizes) and 20-ounce plastic cups – and focuses on updating traditional collegiate tableware by giving it a modernized look that sports fans can appreciate.

These products could be used for football tailgates, home parties, graduation get-togethers, March Madness and alumni events, proving that party personalization doesn’t have to mean having your name all over everything.

Spirit Showcase
There are many clever ways retailers can showcase and merchandise a collegiate line or sports products in general, as these items can be mixed and matched with free-standing sports decor, wearables and coordinating colored products.

One idea would be to bring the tailgate party to the retail store, making it an event where customers can get involved while having fun. A “mock tailgate” will get sports fans excited about their school and the sports season ahead.

“When it comes to merchandising party supplies, we suggest thinking outside the box,” Karrmann said. “Effective merchandising should sell the product by giving hosts ideas on how to mix and match a variety of items to make a party their own.”

A tailgate themed party can even work well for the party that’s held at home in front of the television. All you need to do is combine elements of the tailgating party held at the stadium with their sports party at home. This is an opportunity for retailers to draw attention to the diverse array of products they carry in the sports category.

And whether customers are hosting a children’s birthday party, a college football tailgate or an alumni event, retailers should make apparent the options available for fans of all ages.

“Although we do plan to expand the line to more universities in 2012, we also carry a large selection of general football ensembles and decor, ranging from football-themed platters and bowls to football confetti, drink holders, cupcake pics, party hats and more,” Karmann said. “All of these items can create the perfect festive football party for all ages, including children’s birthdays, high school sports events and tailgating football fans whose schools are currently not in our collegiate line.”

So whether they cheer on the team from a tailgate or play the role of an armchair quarterback, there is something that can help them show their love of the game.

Are you ready for some football?


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