NASCAR.com Catalog Accelerates Sales to Women

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It's well established that NASCAR tie-ins can sell carloads of die-cast cars, key chains and uniform jackets. But gold dangling earrings and short-sleeve, terry-cloth hoodies?


When the NASCAR.com catalog debuted three years ago, it had no fashion items, said Joe Mattes, vice president of e-commerce at NASCAR.com. At that time, the stock for women consisted of a few tank tops and pullovers.


However, after two consecutive years of 25 percent sales growth in women's apparel, the catalog's offerings have grown to include sleepwear, shoulder bags, jewelry, headwear, hoodies and fitted twill uniform jackets, V-necks and a variety of tops. Prices range from $11.97 for a pair of boxer shorts to $111.99 for a pair of earrings.


In addition, the fall catalog, scheduled to arrive in homes Sept. 15, will test the girls category with one page of pink T-shirts, shorts and other apparel from infant to 4T sizes.


Turner Sports Inc., Atlanta, which owns NASCAR.com, uses the catalog to showcase the best-selling items available online. The Web site carries licensed merchandise from 135 vendors representing 60 drivers, while the catalog features only 20 vendors and 25 drivers.


To make room in the 24-page, quarterly catalog for all this women's apparel, the amount of space dedicated to the category increased from 10 percent last year to 20 percent this year.


The book also got a bump in circulation. Last year, 250,000 copies were circulated while this year the total will be closer to 2.2 million. Next year, circulation is expected to rise another 20 percent, Mattes said. He also predicted that sales for the women's apparel and home décor categories will grow 20 percent in 2006.


The catalogs mail exclusively to NASCAR.com's house list, half of whom are women. In contrast, women make up only 40 percent of NASCAR's fan base, Mattes said.


A growing emphasis on home décor is another way NASCAR.com hopes to appeal to women. Home décor is one of the fastest-growing categories in the catalog, he said. While the home décor category used to consist of die-cast cars and other replicas, today it includes bedding, bathroom accessories and clocks.


"The emphasis is on functional lifestyle products that are licensed," Mattes said.


On NASCAR.com's home décor landing page, there's also a video that viewers can click on to watch tips about how to decorate with NASCAR-themed items.


For the holiday catalog, scheduled to reach homes just before Thanksgiving, NASCAR.com again will add more functional lifestyle items, this time with a holiday theme. These will include fireplace accessories and door knockers. Mattes has high expectations in particular for a TV remote control. He hopes it will make a good stocking stuffer on par with last year's electric toothbrushes, of which NASCAR.com sold 70,000 units online.


Sales for the Web site and catalog are strongest in the Northeast, California, Texas, Ohio and Pennsylvania, Mattes said. Almost anywhere outside the Southeast, where NASCAR-licensed items are already widely available in stores, is a good target audience, he said.


Chantal Todé covers catalog and retail news and BTB marketing for DM News and DM News.com. To keep up with the latest developments in these areas, subscribe to our daily and weekly e-mail newsletters by visiting www.dmnews.com/newsletters


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