Team Focus Scores for NFL Catalog

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An increase in team-specific catalogs has contributed to a higher average order amount and response rate for the National Football League's August book.

"It was critical that we get the favorite team in front of fans, and the team-specific catalogs receive double the response rate of the national version," said Bob O'Keefe, senior director of database marketing for the NFL, New York.

More than 1.7 million August books arrived in homes the last week of July, 1.3 million of them highlighting a specific team. Last year the NFL produced 1.4 million catalogs, with 1 million focusing on a team.

To keep the task of creating catalogs for 31 NFL teams manageable (no book was produced for the expansion Houston Texans), the front 10 pages and back 10 pages of team-specific catalogs feature merchandise for that franchise while the middle 16 pages focus on all teams.

"When we first came up with the plan to target it on a team level, the response we got was, 'You can't do it. It will be extremely expensive,' " O'Keefe said. "We spent a lot of time coming up with this approach to production to reduce the expense."

Nearly 750,000 recipients of the August catalog were previous buyers. The rest came from outside lists or had requested a catalog. Last year 400,000 buyers received the August book while prospects and requesters accounted for the balance. About 75 percent of recipients are male. Catalogs are produced monthly from August through January.

"One of our strategies has been to develop the catalog-request segment," O'Keefe said. "Renting names has had mixed results. We have had better results when we use NFL media assets to reach fans, such as TV. We've been getting large amounts of catalog requests through TV and also by running ads in NFL Insider magazine."

Perry Cooper, director of database marketing for the NFL, attributed the August effort's success to a more effective merchandise mix, a "richer" list mix and better targeting. A major cost savings was realized as the number of outside lists from which prospects were obtained was cut to five.

"Jerseys continue to be our best-selling item," Cooper said. "Areas in which we have expanded our assortment include tailgating, home, women's and youth. And we've contracted on the fringe of categories where we were too saturated. We don't have as many sweatshirts as we did last year. It represents a more effective use of our square inch."

O'Keefe also cited increased sales this year of double-extra-large and triple-extra-large products.

The average price point in the August books was just over $50 while last August it was closer to $45. The average order amount climbed into the low $90s from $82 to $83 last August.

"It's the highest number we've seen," O'Keefe said. "The key has been the repeat buyers. We've increased our buyer file year over year."

Cooper said the response rate is "25 [percent] to 30 percent ahead" of last year, and O'Keefe said last year's rate was more than 2 percent while this year it is "well over 2 percent."

O'Keefe also said is "becoming more of the dominant channel." He expects that 45 percent of sales will come online this year, up from about 30 percent last year.

The total per-piece cost of the book, including postage, is less than 60 cents.


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