New Product Mix Lifts NHL Spring Catalog

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A lineup change to the National Hockey League's spring catalog led to an improved performance compared with the spring 2001 catalog.

The 500,000-plus-circulation book targeted hockey fans in the United States and arrived in homes at the start of the playoffs in April. It produced an average order of $60 to $65, an increase from the spring 2001 book, though Brian C. Fitzgerald, direct of commerce and development for NHL Interactive CyberEnterprises LLC, would not say how much.

He also would not reveal the response rate but said, "It was more than respectable. We got what we expected."

The improvement resulted from new merchandise and a "totally different look and feel and design," he said.

"This is now the official book of the NHL, where it was more of a generalized catalog before," Fitzgerald said. "We included a lot of new items. Spring was meant to drive people to the Web site as we went into the playoffs, and that's exactly what happened with the orders that were generated."

Though Fitzgerald said the Web was "by far our No. 1 sales channel," he would not give a percentage.

"We decided to use a home theme cover because people use licensed products to decorate their homes, including their kids' or family rooms," he said. "This catalog is meant for the hard-core, displaced fan who cannot find this product in the brick-and-mortar space. There are 30 hockey teams, and if you don't have hockey in your area, you might have a hard time finding your favorite team's products."

Items debuting in the spring book included the Retro Long-Sleeve T-Shirt ($21.99), Jersey Crest Fleece Sweatshirt ($34.99), Stanley Cup Banner T-Shirt ($16.99), 1980 Team USA Jersey ($124.99) and, featured on the cover, the 29-by-45 Wall Hanging Banner ($19.95).

Hockey fans have higher incomes than fans of other sports, Fitzgerald said, which contributed to the book's success. The Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche were the Nos. 1 and 2 teams, respectively, in terms of merchandise sold.

Key product categories included the private-label Blueline Apparel and memorabilia, including items such as the NHL Superstar Series Plaque and the Stanley Cup Champions Commemorative Stat Plaque (both priced at $39.99) as well as autographed official game pucks (priced from $34.99 to $199.99). A page of women's items also did well along with hats, vintage items, bobble-head dolls and personalized jerseys, some of which cost as much as $269.99.

The league's catalog for the upcoming season, which begins Oct. 9, drops next month while the holiday catalog mails in November.


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