Coming off arguably one of the most exciting National Football League regular seasons ever, the NFL said that Internet sales for the 2002 season rose 30 percent from 2001 to $26.5 million.
Also, NFLShop.com's sales during the typically over-hyped period between the AFC and NFC championships and the Super Bowl were on track to be 20 percent higher than the same period last year, said Perry Cooper, director of database marketing at NFLShop.com.
Cooper credited the league's multichannel approach for the spike.
“You can't dismiss the vitality of the game and the competitive balance helping all business units across the NFL,” he said. “But then when you look at our marketing platform, it's multichannel, and we have a lot of things in our favor.”
For example, while the Web site accounts for more than 40 percent of sales for NFL Shop, the league's direct marketing arm, NFL Shop attributes more than half of the site's sales to people browsing the 9 million catalogs dropped during the season.
“By matching back to our mailing list, we have found that the catalog is acting as an instigator, or shopping guide, for Web sales,” Cooper said.
Content at NFL.com and links to NFLShop.com, along with 100 television spots during the season, have driven sales as well, he said.
The NFL sells products through 12,000 licensed outlets, making up a $2.9 billion industry.
As the direct marketing outlet, more than 70 percent of NFL Shop's business comes from displaced fans, Cooper said. As a result, it relies on catalog requests and TV spots to prospect for fans and tracks the favorite teams of the names in its house file.
“Once we know your favorite team, you will get a book that has 20-plus customized pages dedicated to your team,” he said. “We always ask for favorite team, and if we don't get it the first time, we'll send out a generic catalog, and then based on purchase behavior we'll then turn around a targeted catalog.”
The NFL has 32 teams.
Cooper said NFL Shop has 4 million names in its house file — 2 million buyers and 2 million catalog requesters. He would not break down the NFL Shop's file of buyers in terms of recency.
“We obviously look closely at recency, frequency and monetary value when we're putting together a list plan, but generally all buyers receive books, and then we do use a lot of catalog requesters to prospect against,” he said.
NFL Shop's order size overall is in the mid- to high $70s, and in the high $80s for the print catalogs, he said. Jerseys account for 40 percent of NFLShop.com's sales.
Surprisingly to everyone except maybe Chicago fans, the No. 1 jersey this season was Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher's. Also, Bears paraphernalia is the No. 2 seller overall, according to NFL Shop. Chicago fans take the prize for loyalty as the Bears posted four wins and 12 losses in 2002.
The No. 2 and No. 3 jerseys on NFLShop.com were those of Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb. Cooper also thinks a tightly contested season helped spread jersey sales around.
In the week leading to Super Bowl Sunday, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Oakland Raiders each had four players in the top 25 sellers. Oakland's top selling jerseys were those of quarterback Rich Gannon, wide receivers Jerry Rice and Tim Brown and defensive back Charles Woodson.
Overall, Raiders paraphernalia was the No. 1 seller on NFLShop.com, Cooper said.
Buccaneers paraphernalia, which is NFL Shop's seventh-leading seller overall, has been the third-best seller since Dec. 1, he said. The Bucs' top selling jerseys were those of defensive tackle Warren Sapp, fullback Mike Alstott, safety John Lynch and wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.
This week, NFLShop.com is pushing so-called Super Packs, which include various paraphernalia from the winning team, and a Super Bowl DVD.