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August/September 2011

Predicting your

rugby World Cup replica stock

RWC Replica stock
The octopus in the Cape Town Aquarium has predicted that the ‘Bokke are going to win the World Cup later this year. Dare retailers base their fanwear stock orders on this prediction? For, as past experience showed, a team’s performance drives the sales of supporter wear. Or, are South Africans so used to wearing replica after the 2010 FIFA World Cup that they’ll show the colours, win or lose? Photo: CARIN HARDISTY

Obut for a crystal ball to predict the outcome of the 2012 IRB World Cup!

While knowing who’ll be in the final — even the semi’s or quarter-finals — will spoil the tournament for fans, it could make a vast difference to the profits (or losses) of retailers.

Retailers will know from their experience in the 2010 FIFA World Cup that if you order too little stock, you lose sales to counterfeiters plying their trade on your doorstep. And that it’s not possible to replenish if the supplier has nothing left.

Going back a little further: many retailers will remember the mad scramble to find a Springbok rugby jersey during the week of 13-20 October 2007 when the whole country wanted to wear the green and gold as it became clear that the ‘Bokke could actually win the 2007 IRB World Cup (RWC).

Four months after the final, South Africans were still proudly wearing green and gold at every opportunity. In other words, when national pride is on a high, you’ll be enjoying sales for many months to come.

But, many will remember that you couldn’t give an All Black jersey away in Paris after the tournament favourites were beaten by France in the quarter-finals. Nobody wants to discount piles of Springbok jerseys if the unthinkable should happen and the team doesn’t progress past the pool stages.

The current Tri-Nations tournament makes any prediction of the Springboks’ chances as difficult as in 2007: following the advice of sports scientists in 2007 key injured ‘Boks were rested and the Springbok team lost three of their four games against New Zealand and Australia. Most fans will hope that the repeat of this pattern this year will result in the same outcome as in 2007, when the team made triumphant tours of the major cities to show off the World Cup to massive crowds dressed in green and gold shirts.

The question is therefore: do you take the plunge and splash out to make sure that you have sufficient stock to supply every South African in your shopping area with the jersey they’ll want to wear once the ‘Bokke reach the final … or do you play it safe and hold thumbs that you’ll be able to get more stock when the demand arises?

After the 2010 soccer world cup South Africans made a mind shift and became avid wearers of team jerseys, says Brett Burgess of Super-Brands, supplier of the Canterbury Springbok jerseys. They could see that in the early demand for Springbok jerseys.

It is certainly true that just about every South African bought at least one Bafana Bafana replica or supporter shirt before, and during, last year’s football world cup — even people who never went to a match or never before supported a sports team.

The demand was partly driven by the Football Fridays campaign of Sports and Recreation SA, which resulted in government departments and corporates splashing their budgets on football shirts for staff or to be handed out at events. It was the biggest display of licensed gear — jerseys, scarves. hats, caps — ever seen in SA.

The momentum is carried forward with the launch of Rugby Fridays — although the Magnificent Fridays linked to the ICC World Cup and netball world cup failed to drum up mass support. Few will doubt that this is linked to the Proteas’ early departure from the tournament — something many retailers anticipated when placing orders — and quite frankly, who really followed the netball team’s progress?

Rugby fans are, however, much keener to show their colours and there was already plenty of gees being drummed up more than a month before the start of the tournament.

While retailers gamble with predicting the sales of licensed gear, spare a thought for the suppliers. They have to rely on retailers’ pre-orders and their own intuition to ensure that they have sufficient stock. Should they run out of stock prematurely, or upset the market after the event by trying to get rid of unsold stock, they not only run the risk of upsetting retail customers, but also damage their own margins.

“We are expecting the demand to increase as we get closer to the event, and then another spike in sales when we reach the “knock-out” stages,” says Burgess. “We have planned to have additional stock available in key styles throughout the RWC. It will be ABSA branded. RWC stock has arrived and we have delivered all ordered units to the market, and we have limited stock available so late in the game, but all our key retailers would have their stock and are enjoying positive sales.”

While a retailer can pick up a phone and order more stock, a supplier needs to order fabric, book factory space, and rely on transport and custom officials not to delay the process unnecessarily before they can start rolling out extra stock. Clearly not a process that can be accomplished in a week or two.

“We have a few options to ensure quick turnaround product if needed, but we do feel that we would be fine on our key styles,” adds Burgess.

Contingency plans

“We’ve planned for those last minute orders — I know what happens every time,” says Darryll Kroll of Captive Brands, who supplies licensed 2011 IRB World Cup scarves, caps, beanies, gloves and other accessories.

As a marketing manager at Canterbury during the previous IRB World Cup Kroll is well aware that a last minute rush will probably ensue. And how difficult it is to predict demand. In 2007 Canterbury could comfortably supply retailers until the quarter-finals … but nobody could anticipate the buying frenzy during the last two weeks of the RWC.

Should demand again exceeds expectations, the suppliers will have to choose who gets the limited stock available. Nobody should blame them if they support those retailers who’ve supported them with early orders, or who are good customers throughout the year.

By ordering enough stock now, you can avoid having to disappoint fans by mid-October when the agterryers want to show their support for the ‘Bokke’. Besides, the Springboks are still going to play plenty of matches — it is not as if nobody will buy green and gold fanwear once the tournament ends.

And according to the octopus in the Cape Town Aquarium the Springboks are going to win … although he doesn’t yet have the track record of octopus Paul, who correctly predicted the outcome of seven matches in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, including the final!

Order your licensed RWC gear from:
  • Shirts from Canterbury from Super-Brands on Tel: 021 380 6360.

  • Balls from JGSA on Tel: 011 719 9990

  • Scarves, caps, beanies etc. from Captive Brands on Tel: 021 510 3868.

  • Lapel badges from Badges Unlimited on Tel: 012 998 5096.

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