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New Niche For Promo Products: Micro Moments

Promotional product opportunities could come direct from last night’s SportsCenter Top 10 thanks to a new marketing strategy by the National Football League (NFL).

Extending its deal with e-commerce partner Fanatics at a recent owners meeting, the NFL plans to capitalize on the instant merchandise market with “Micro Moments.” These special events such as Peyton Manning’s retirement and Odell Beckham Jr.’s one-handed touchdown grab can be designed on shirts available for purchase within minutes.

"The excitement in every record or amazing play is there, but the half-life of each moment is so short, you have to do what you can to capture it," Chris Halpin, senior vice president of consumer products for the NFL, told ESPN.

Fanatics plans on adding employees and committing to $80 million in technological investment for the initiative. The “Micro Moments” assembly line will begin with brainstorming upcoming anniversaries or potential game-changing plays, sketching designs for T-shirts and then marketing the apparel online. Fanatics can produce shirts as they’re sold thanks to a new digital printing center in Jacksonville, FL, said Fanatics CEO Doug Mack. "We live in an on-demand world," Mack said. "It's not good enough to get the scores in the morning paper, and in the social media age we live in, fans want what they want now."

The formula has already proven successful for Fanatics with college football. On Halloween last year, the University of Miami beat Duke on an eight-lateral kickoff return, resulting in a touchdown with no time remaining. Minutes after the game ended, Fanatics workers discussed a T-shirt design commemorating the play. Within 48 hours, the shirt was on sale at Fanatics.com for $24.99 and became the top-selling college item on the site that day.

Fanatics Apparel President Raphael Peck told Sports Business Journal that as Fanatics has become more focused on “Micro Moments,” revenue from that segment of the company’s business has increased more than 110%.

When it comes to phrases, Mack said that the company may seek to trademark them unless they come from an athlete’s mouth. For example, Washington Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins trademarked “You Like That!” a few days after his battle cry went viral last fall. He then made T-shirts with the phrase and sold thousands to raise money for the International Justice Mission.

Adam Walterscheid, president of T-Shirt Tycoon Solutions (asi/87000), attributes the formula’s success to social media and digital strategy. “If anyone’s strategy is digital, and they understand the importance of real time data and how to be scalable through variable data, they can build the same business model,” Walterscheid told Counselor.