Jason Sugarman was not messing around when he invested heavily in Marucci Sports, a well-known baseball merchandising brand. It was not a spur of the moment investment, he says, but a carefully calculated one. He is a huge baseball fan, a game he loves as much as football, but his decision to invest in Marucci when retail brands are closing outlets countrywide was not driven by personal passions.
What is Marucci?
Marucci is a brand closely associated with Major League Baseball. The company originally made a name for itself by manufacturing maple wood baseball bats at a time when ash wood bats are prominently used. Marucci’s unique bats quickly became popular among pro players such as Ortiz, José Bautista, Chase Utley, and Albert Pujols. The company was first founded in 2002 by the former head baseball coach of Louisiana State University, who lent the brand his name. About a decade later, nearly a third of all pro baseball players were using Marucci bats. The brand retains its popularity still and has expanded to other baseball gear like gloves, apparel, and hats.
Marucci’s branding strategy is also unique in the sense that the company doesn’t sponsor individual players, like Nike, Adidas or similar sports brands. The brand instead brings in players to the company. This ensures that the Marucci name remains closely associated with baseball.
Investing in Merchandise When Traditional Retail is Failing
Mr. Sugarman follows MLB games, so the Marucci name has always been recognizable to him. He has watched the brand grow from baseball bats into conventional money makers like clothing. He sees great potential in Marucci to grow even more. Interestingly enough, his investment comes at a time when retail outlets are in the news for the wrong reasons.
Traditional retail is giving way to online shopping, Mr. Sugarman admits. But he doesn’t think that merchandising would suffer from lack of support from traditional retail outlets. He thinks brands like Marucci can thrive online, as legacy brands like Nike did in retail shops in malls in the nineties. Marucci may even have a bigger advantage thanks to how digital marketing drives online shopping, Mr. Sugarman thinks.
How a Brand like Marucci can Thrive in the Age of Online Shopping
Online shoppers are more scrutinizing than outlet shoppers because there are so many options available to them. So how does a brand like Marucci get to them? Mr. Sugarman thinks targeted digital marketing is what could make the difference for a brand like Marucci. Digital marketing can carefully choose a target customer base thanks to big data. Marucci is a brand that goes side by side with baseball. It’s not that difficult to get the merchandise on the computer screens of baseball fans, according to investors like Mr. Sugarman.
Marucci still makes sales offline as well as online. But with a carefully planned out marketing strategy, the brand can really bloom. Mr. Sugarman expects that Marucci will continue to make profits in the coming years, and more importantly sustain its current profit margins.