CLEVELAND — The Cleveland Cavaliers have been one of the NBA’s feel-good stories this season.
Featuring a young, budding core of Collin Sexton, Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland and Evan Mobley, the Wine and Gold find themselves in the thick of a playoff race.
Meanwhile, the organization is perched near the top of the league in merchandise sales.
“Our city edition jersey has been a huge hit with fans. It's got the classic logo on it,” said Vice President of Marketing Chris Kaiser. “Just trying to keep that stuff on the shelves has been almost impossible.”
The Cavs are cool, and Cavs gear is even cooler.
If their partnerships embrace it, their sales reflect it. Cavs officials say sales at the team shop are up 247% from last year, which is only open on Cavs’ game days.
Online, they’ve seen a 70% spike in traffic at Cavs.com.
“We've seen some great on court performance, obviously from the team, which is always helpful, but then also having two All-Stars and having a Rookie of the Year candidate in Evan Mobley, that has definitely caused a major spike specifically in jersey sales in just general fan gear,” Kaiser said.
Mobley, Garland, and Allen lead the pack when it comes to jersey sales, in no particular order. But it’s their collaborations with local brands that set the Cavs apart; blending art and culture to create a mixture of Wine and Gold that’s keeping fans clamoring for more.
The organization has partnered with Homage, Ilthy and Glen Infante to create player-specific looks that accentuate the traditional NBA apparel, giving fans fresh pieces to flaunt on game day.
“The NBA is always blurring those lines between pop culture and basketball,” Kaiser said. “We're just trying to lean in on that and connect with different fans and specifically get as hyper-local as possible as we can with our strategy.”
Hyper-local has also paid dividends in combatting a supply chain shortage that has choked inventory for major retailers across the country. The availability of a brand like Homage to produce a quick batch of apparel has been crucial in keeping the store stocked.
“We just have to kind of diversify our product portfolio and that's a lot of the local stuff. We can get that stuff quick, and we get it turned quick,” Kaiser said. “Those order schedules are a week and a half or two weeks, so we can get stuff in and that definitely helps fill the shelves and keep the store full.”
Most recently during Women’s History Month, the Cavs teamed up with Emily Roggenburk, a Cleveland-based female business owner to champion their “One Team” collection that features empowering and inspirational designs that celebrate women.
“I think there's just a lot of positive stories and a lot of sellable players in this team, which, you know, I want to say it's all strategy, but that definitely helps to have those pieces in place,” Kaiser said.
As the team prepares for a stretch run, having a core collection that looks to be intact for several years makes for a winning formula both on the court and from a marketing perspective, as evidence by a shortage of jerseys at times in the team shop. In response, the Cavs are encouraging fans to sign up for re-stock texts from the team shop online so they can be the first to know when their favorite player’s jersey is back in stock.
“In terms of our team personalities, I think they're guys that resonate with the local community,” Kaiser said. “Fans want to continue to lean in on that and in turn, they (the players) want more player-focused product and they want to be involved in curating a lot of the product moving forward.”
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