Yesterday's winner on the field translated into big sales of licensed and related Super Bowl merchandise, as supermarkets doing business within the winner's field experienced.
In a "USA Today" report, the NFL projected sales of Baltimore Ravens merchandise up 30% to 35% over last season, and New York Giants memorabilia sales was projected ahead by 20% to 25%. The league expected $100 million in Super Bowl XXXV logo merchandise sales. According to the report, the Green Bay Packers-New England Patriots matchup generated the record of $130 million.
In the weeks leading up to the big event, some retailers decided to attack sales opportunities with various general merchandise items on display while others sat on the sidelines, SN found in an informal survey.
Not surprisingly, several retailers said their stores would have showcased bigger nonfood Super Bowl displays if their local teams had made it to the postseason.
Spokesman Bernie Rogan for Shaw's Supermarkets, East Bridgewater, Mass., said, "It would have been different if the Pats [New England Patriots] were in it." Instead, he said, the retailer concentrated more on party-themed items in the snacks and deli sections. "We typically don't get involved in soft goods [like T-shirts]," he said. "We focus more on the food aspect."
To assist retailers in food promotions, the Jan. 29 issue of Time Inc.'s "People" magazine and the Food Network, both based in New York, ran a special 20-page advertising section to tie the nonfood product with food items, according to Kathy Retamozo, publicist for the magazine. The "Super Food Fest" section included football-related recipes and entertaining tips from the network's celebrity chefs, such as Emeril Lagasse and Wolfgang Puck.
Although chips and dip and deli sandwiches were indeed appropriate and popular grocery items for Super Bowl parties across the country, supermarkets in the Baltimore, Minnesota, Oakland, Calif., and New York areas had a homefield marketing advantage throughout their stores.
Despite the Minnesota Vikings' decisive loss to the Giants in the NFC title game, Vikings' merchandise "had done pretty well this season, with the exception of those last few [regular season] game losses," said Brian Numainville, director of research at Nash Finch, Minneapolis. "Nash Finch had stocked merchandise more aggressively this year," he said. "If the Vikings won, we won with the sales, but if we lost, the sales dipped -- it's cyclical." Throughout the NFL season, Nash Finch stores merchandised an extensive line of trinkets, including pennants for $3.75, six-packs of buttons for $4.75, wall clings, magnets and key chains.
A source from a Northeast-based chain said the stores were advertising reduced price promotions through in-store circulars for all Super Bowl-related items, including party-friendly bakeware like crock pots, cookie sheets and lasagna pans. "It's a huge snack food opportunity," the source said. The chain would have merchandised a wider selection if the local team had been in the "big show," said the source. "We would have been all over it."
Price Chopper, Schenectady, N.Y., ran heavy television and radio advertisements, promoting the retailer as "the place to go for all party needs," said spokeswoman Joanne Gage. "The fact that a New York team is [in the Super Bowl] may make it an even more successful sales promotion due to fan intensity." According to Gage, popular general merchandise items were fire logs, paper plates, tablecloths and team-related items.
Giant Food Stores, Landover, Md., had been doubly successful in selling Super Bowl merchandise in both their nine Super G stores in New Jersey and primarily in their 30 to 35 Giant Food Stores in the Baltimore area, according to Marla Boyd, director of nonfood category management.
In the Baltimore area, she said their eight stockkeeping units of AFC champion Ravens $9.99 T-shirts and hats, $12.99 car flags, $14.99 sweatshirts and $29.99 3-by-5-foot flags were "flying out the stores." Boyd said, "We're doing unbelievable."
Another buyer for Giant Food Stores said, "We're making money hand over fist [for both teams]." The buyer said all of the merchandise was being displayed in their seasonal aisles, and the same merchandise for the NFC champion Giants was being displayed in their New Jersey stores.
Depending on the winner, Boyd said Giant stores pre-ordered four stockkeeping units each of "Super Bowl Champion"-emblazoned merchandise for both teams in the form of license plate covers, footballs, blankets and pennants.
Whether retailers were passive or aggressive in their strategy for Super Bowl sales, the real winners were the fans.
"Those prices [for the various Super Bowl paraphernalia] were great," said the buyer at Giant Food Stores.