Whether people are purchasing season tickets for the opera or the Knicks, they are putting out the same discretionary entertainment dollars for a leisure activity, observed Gregg Emmer, vice president, chief marketing officer for Batavia, Ohio-based Kaeser & Blair. This is one reason he tends to group sporting events in with the entertainment industry. Another factor is the rigid scheduling demands he and his colleagues experience when providing merchandise for occasions such as auto races, as well as for bands and singers on tours.
“Entertainers on tour and race car drivers following a show circuit both provide a logistical challenge—their souvenirs and promotional merchandise must travel from one venue to another just ahead of the [show]. It will essentially be 85 percent to 90 percent of what is needed for a particular venue so it sells out and there is nothing left over to transport,” explained Emmer. The upshot is, distributors have to consider the logistical issues when providing a quote. “These people are looking for [distributors] willing to work on tight schedules to make sure the goods arrive where, when and in the quantities they are supposed to,” he added.
Once established, people in the entertainment industry tend to value relationships with reliable vendors, so it can be difficult for new distributors to break into the market. “It’s important to get to know the people at ground zero,” stressed Emmer. “Distributors I know who do merchandise for a couple of racing teams just happen to know one of the racing team owners on a personal basis—the relationship is not with the various tracks, but with the actual team,” he continued. “The same is true with performers. You have to have access to—and proximity to—their headquarters and the staff there, such as publicists and other people who make the decisions. They have their arrangements in place months and months before the events start. This holds true throughout the entire entertainment industry.”