Fighting for the Fans’ Hearts

Event Merchandising has been involved in the world of wrestling for more than 20 years. With the sport set to make a high-profile comeback on ITV as World of Sport Wrestling, Event Merchandising MD, Jeremy Goldsmith interviewed wrestling star and the show’s producer, Jeff Jarrett, about the importance of merchandise for fans of the sport.

How important is branded merchandise to your sport or brand?

Merchandise in the world of professional wrestling is very important. It helps promote not just our brand, but our roster as well and gives us further brand exposure by fans wearing the product, dressing their bedrooms and playing with the accessories. It’s a way a wrestling fan can express to the world that they are passionate about the sport.

Ever since the late 80s when Event Merchandising started the trend in Europe, wrestling product has been loved by fans. It is also an important additional revenue stream.

How did you select what to have?

A T-shirt is usually the first thing to get made with the designs based on our popular superstars. It can be a selection of clothing either with a logo, slogan of one of our guys or girls with some awesome artwork that appeals to our fanbase. We then have an endless selection of items including souvenir programmes, replica belts, posters, signed photos, wall banners, caps, beanies, and many more. The world of wrestling even introduced the foam hand to the UK audience.

What’s the most popular item?

It will always be the T-Shirts –they’re a staple of professional wrestling. Then there’s replica belts, if they haven’t already sold out.

What do your fans like most?

Our fans are collectors of everything wrestling related and they will let you know on social media for sure. Again, T-shirts are always a big seller. Fans love limited edition items and signed product like a Louisville baseball bat, replica title belts, action figures, framed signed posters, calendars, guitars or even worn ring gear or tees from our talent.

It has huge sentimental value and fans love to decorate their houses with all the items on their walls and show the moff to friends and family.It’sreallycooltosee the impact professional wrestling has on people that way. We get a huge demographic of fans, both male and female. One of our best customers was the Sultan of Brunei’s son.

Do they buy most at events or online?

Sales at an event, can be huge, with queues around the block. What’s great about our online stores is that we can operate24/7, where we can expand the range and sell throughout the year.

Do your fans share what they have bought on social media?

Absolutely! Because of weekly TV, fans will see who’s wearing what merchandise in the first few rows and then that catches on and then they decide “that’s what I want” and then they are tweeting and talking about it on social media and going on to to see if its available. They are so passionate about everything we do from inside the ring and outside of it.

Do you wear or use your own branded merchandise?

Of course. I think our wrestlers do, even more so now. A lot of the talent wear their t-shirts on TV, at signings and at live events. They even promote it on social media– it’s great promotion for our brand and product.

How do know what price points to charge?

We make sure to keep it line with retail prices. We keep in mind we have a lot of families and young adults who like to buy from live events and in the store, and prices can obviously vary depending on the product. We have something for everybody in the store and constantly have bundles and packages available.

What’s the mix of free merchandise you use to raise your profile versus saleable?

Surprisingly, not that much thanks to our constant pushes on our social media platforms, but we do like to work with our TV partners and wrestling podcasts or wrestling magazines when we are about to release a new product. So, we do offer product as prizes. It helps us raise awareness of the new releases through these mediums and our fans like that.

How do you select what’s going to be in your collection for this year and next?

The landscape changes constantly in professional wrestling. We have a good idea of what to produce for the tours or the store, but it’s all based on which wrestlers are on our roster and are popular among our fans and how well they respond to them.

We know guys like a Kurt Angle, Sting, Hulk Hogan or The Hardys will be popular, because they have been around for years and had success all over the world. When looking to create merchandise for new talent, we need to develop their brands and personas over a certain period.

For example, if a popular catchphrase catches on, we get this printed up on a
T-shirt. If one of the masked superstars has an awesome mask, we replicate that because kids love it. One of the best-selling catch phrases we ever sold was for Steve Austin – it simply read Austin3:16.

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