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Always Put the Customer First

Consumer expectations should guide your licensing decisions
Bob Case, President and Chief Creative Officer | Shaun Jensen, Creative Director

It’s a fact. Attaching an official sports club license to anything from water bottles to team jerseys adds perceived value to otherwise unremarkable products. A $10 mesh shirt is instantly worth $50, and a $3 water bottle triples in value with a sanctioned team logo.

Why? Because fans have come to expect more from official gear than the pirated T-shirts available for half the price from unlicensed vendors. They’re not particularly surprised when obvious knockoffs fall apart in the washing machine or fade in the dishwasher after a single use. But they expect the licensed product to hold up.

Let’s take a deeper look at why this is so, and how to ensure your brand’s license carries weight with consumers.

License with care

Of course, to keep any real or perceived value intact, license owners must offer consumers a user experience consistent with what fans have come to expect from a brand. Only agree to license items made with durable materials built with solid craftsmanship. Make sure team logos and other branded decorations will hold up to repeated use.

Consistent attention to detail eases concerns consumers might have regarding buying your products. A license tag or sticker is sort of like an insurance policy assuring fans they can enjoy the experience of owning and using your product in the way it was intended.

Protect your brand

There’s always someone who is willing to open shop by stealing your brand identity to sell cheap or low-quality trinkets. Allowing them to operate unchecked can do more harm than the profits they siphon from potentially lost sales of officially licensed goods.

Always put the customer first.The real harm comes when fans associate these low-quality items with your brand. They’ll think twice before buying again, and because some counterfeiters are skilled at what they do, consumers might not even realize what they’ve purchased wasn’t sanctioned. Most fly-by-night street vendors who hawk memorabilia near popular sports venues aren’t the least concerned about providing quality. They aren’t tied to a brand because they make their money by misusing the intellectual property of others.

So be aware. Keep an eye out for them and take action to close them down. It is better to be seen as taking a hard line against the little guy trying to make a buck than to risk allowing your brand to be tainted by shoddy counterfeits.

Finally, make sure to include verbiage on licensed materials alerting would-be pirates that the creative/intellectual property cannot be used without express written consent. Your legal advisor can help you word it just right.

Handle with care

So, what if you are the one borrowing a license to sell products of your own? We all know big clothing and athletic footwear brands such as Nike often partner with athletes such as Michael Jordan to create a co-branded product. Sometimes, a no-name company partners with a larger one for the coat-tails effect. If you brand it correctly, almost anything will sell.

Simply renting a license so you can tag their logo on your gear, however, isn’t exactly what the license owner has in mind. They will expect you to consider all aspects of their branding. What do their customers expect? What is their reputation?

It all comes back to creating the same customer experience consumers have come to expect from that brand. If you miss the mark, your sponsorship likely won’t last long. And your anticipated profits might come up a bit short.

You can avoid such issues by working out an agreement ahead of time between yourself and the license holder. Spell it out in a contract. Make sure you each agree on what various portions of the contract mean. Your standard of quality bed sheets, for example, might be 200 thread count.  If the license holder considers 800 thread count a bare minimum, there is going to be a disconnect.

Need help?

Not sure where to start? LAVIDGE can help. We’ve worked with teams, retailers and sponsors in connection with a variety of sports in multiple states.

To learn more, give us a call at 480.998.2600 or send email to [email protected].

Shoppers value customer experience more than price


Consumers love a great deal. But price alone is not enough to drive consumer loyalty, says a report published by which, in part, states:

Survey data from Blackhawk Network, a financial technology company, suggests that when gauging loyalty to a brand, consumers place a higher value on qualities such as experience and convenience than they do on price. The June 2017 survey found that 94% of US internet users said "a consistently good customer experience" was a top reason for loyalty. By contrast, just 57% cited "regular lower prices."

This solidifies the notion that sports marketers utilizing brand licenses must keep customer experience top of mind—every step of the way.

Courtesy of, here’s a look at other factors US internet users said kept them loyal to brands:

Leading reasons that US internet users are loyal to brands, June 2017


2018 Southwest Sports Marketing Report

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