Driving a 160% sales increase for South Carolina with NCAA Tournament Merchandise
When UofSC won the 2022 NCAA women’s basketball tournament, fans wanted to celebrate with championship merchandise. BNC had it ready to buy online in 4 minutes – and partnered with the university on a monthlong campaign, building excitement and driving a 160% sales increase YTD.
The University of South Carolina (UofSC) is an athletic powerhouse across team and individual sports. It’s no surprise that it has a loyal, passionate fanbase – the university has 5 NCAA championships to its name since 2010, including the women’s basketball win in the 2022 tournament.
As the Gamecocks surged to a 35-2 record in the regular season, UofSC relied on longtime partner Barnes & Noble College (BNC) to ensure students, alumni, parents and fans could find spirit gear to celebrate the team’s success. The university sought not only to offer the merchandise their customers crave in real time, but to maximize sales while the team was in the spotlight and fan excitement was at its peak.
Through BNC’s partnership with Fanatics and Lids, BNC-operated campus stores, including the UofSC store, have access to the widest network of logoed product vendors in the industry. To promote each campus store’s customized merchandise assortment, BNC executes thoughtfully curated omni-channel marketing campaigns, driving traffic and revenue during special events and throughout the year.
BNC partnered with the UofSC athletics department as the Gamecocks advanced through the NCAA tournament, helping build excitement among their fans through email and on social media, promoting the team’s Final Four win and appearance in the championship game.
Within four minutes of UofSC’s victory, the campus store website was updated with championship merchandise, including t-shirts, hoodies, hats, tumblers, socks, flags, decals, can coolers and more. Emails went out to students, faculty, alumni and fans within 10 minutes.
Over the next several weeks, BNC and UofSC continued to extend the celebration and drive sales by engaging fans across a wide range of campus store and UofSC communications channels. BNC launched an email campaign promoting the championship merchandise assortment, reinforced by a series of posts on the campus store’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and TikTok. BNC also provided digital marketing materials to UofSC for social promotion, with posts on Russell House, Student Life and CarolinaCard accounts, as well as on the school’s app for parents and families. On campus, UofSC promoted the merchandise on video boards at the Darla Moore School of Business and Russell House, the student union.
Online sales of logoed merchandise skyrocketed in the first 24 hours after the national championship win. In the following month, total sales exceeded the previous three months combined, representing a 160% sales increase YTD.
“The University of South Carolina has been such a strong partner in working to achieve our shared goals. It’s all about the relationship – we work hard to provide excellent products and compelling marketing resources, but ensuring we can get in front of our customers is vital. When our partners trust us and give us access to reach the campus community, we can drive results, ” said Brian Stark, Senior Vice President, Stores, Barnes & Noble College.
Giving fans what they want, when they want it
for 2022 Year to Date
Athletics are woven into the fabric of the UofSC experience, and Barnes & Noble College helps bring Gamecock pride to life through our bookstore. We help connect them to our community so that our fans can find and buy the spirit gear and branded merchandise they crave, driving business to the bookstore and excitement on campus.
Sandra Lee, Director of Revenue Contract Management and Support
The University of South Carolina