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Marketing Good Merch
“The Kick Was Good.”
After the Indiana Hoosiers lost the 2015 Pinstripe Bowl on a controversial field goal call, Connor Hitchcock printed t-shirts with that slogan and sold hundreds to dejected Indiana football fans.
That DIY merch kicked off a t-shirt startup undertaking that’s grown into Homefield Apparel – one of the popular names in collegiate sports gear right now.
Homefield Apparel has differentiated itself from a crowded field of college sports merchandisers.
It’s done it by producing vintage designs and incorporating references real fans are proud to be in on.
Homefield’s apparel ascent wasn’t always a sure thing. Licensing college sports merchandise is tricky (and pricey). Hitchcock realized that while bigger schools were oversaturated, smaller schools weren’t getting the same attention, even though their fans were just as passionate.
‘The Riches are in the Niches’
Hitchcock and his wife Christa set about jumping through the hoops to get approved to start making merch for a handful of smaller schools all in their home state of Indiana.
After a slow start, Homefield shifted its digital marketing strategy to focus on connecting with college sports fans where they spend most of their time – Twitter.
That created a snowball effect as more fans and students started hearing about Homefield and calling on their colleges to work with the brand.
Today, Homefield has in-demand gear for more than 150 schools and the biggest franchises in college sports, including a brand new deal with Penn State.
Seth Godin called it – the tribes we form are more connected and nuanced than ever, thanks to the internet.
Homefield understands that it doesn’t have to please every college football fan, or even every Penn State fan. It does, however, have to understand the fans it does target and what they want on a deeper level.