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U.S. sportswear brand Fanatics capitalizes on micro-moments

By Angela Gonzalez-Rodriguez


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Fanatics has taken its reactive marketing approach to the next level, being able to capitalize on the latest micro-moment trends and seeing its sales skyrocket as a result.

Case in point: when NFL’s player Alejandro Villanueva, a Pittsburgh Steelers offensive lineman, stood for the anthem and the rest of the team stayed in the locker room, his name began trending on Twitter. Fanatics was quick to react, posting a rendering of his No. 78 jersey on its website, and did the same on the Steelers’ website and the NFL’s online shop, both of which it also operates.

“That moment happened, people wanted to immediately buy that jersey,” Michael Rubin, the company’s chairman and principal owner said in a recent interview. “A week later, that moment is mostly over.”

Indeed. Sales skyrocketed, setting the company’s manufacturing facilities in Kentucky and Florida on fire to press Villanueva’s name and number onto thousands of blank Pittsburgh jerseys for next-day shipping. Overnight, a player who had never caught a pass nor scored a touchdown had the NFL’s best-selling jersey.

These micro-moments, as Rubin calls them, happen all the time in sports: A player reaches a milestone, has a breakout performance or is traded to a new team. Apparel companies have traditionally been poorly positioned to meet the accompanying fan demand as it surges. Fanatics is changing that and, in the process, carving out a lucrative niche in a fiercely competitive online-retail industry largely dominated by Amazon.

Fanatics has licensing rights with the North America’s four major sports leagues, more than 500 colleges, NASCAR, Major League Soccer and the Professional Golf Association.

Over the past couple of years, Fanatics has more than doubled its revenue, now expecting to pencil in 2 billion dollars in 2017, and to ship more than 10 million items from Cyber Monday to Christmas, at a rate of 40,000 packages per hour, its busiest holiday retail season to date.

Its savvy use of micro-moments and consumers’ impulses has attracted a 1 billion dollars investment from the Japanese conglomerate SoftBank. The Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has also taken a stake, reminds the ‘Toronto Star’.