Lord Of The Rings, and Spongebob In the Starting Lineup for Sports
Line Distributors this Season
April 1, 2003
Anderson, Account Supervisor for Sports
Line Distributors, has invested time and an attentive ear
in maintaining relationships with retailers. He took a moment to
give ToyDirectory his view of the booming toy licensing industry.
What new trading and collectible products are being offered by Sports
Line this year?
Yu-Gi-Oh! Labyrinth booster
Anderson: In the sports card world, we have new baseball, basketball,
football, hockey, NASCAR and non-sports cards regularly.
Over the next 60 days, over 50 new Bobbing Head products will be
released. The Yu-Gi-Oh! Labyrinth booster was released February
27th. The new Joey & Pegasus starter decks were released
March 14th. In April, we are releasing a Sports Line exclusive,
The Funko Pez Bride and Groom for ten dollars. On April 15th,
we will be marketing the brand new Upper Deck SpongeBob Game
(starters and boosters). To see the pre-orders mount for this product
alone is so exciting because it demonstrates the health of the collectibles
market. Lord of the Rings just released Helms Deep
starters and boosters on March 12.
Lord Of the Rings The Battle of Helm's Deep
What do you see as the biggest trends affecting this year’s
Bigger sales in all categories by our customers, with more new product
releases in 2003 overall than ever before. At least one of the major
card manufacturers plans to release fewer football products in 2003.
This is the beginning of a “less is more” trend in the
trading card industry. With a controlled production run, fewer cards
drive up the demand for product. Another exciting trend is NASCAR
collectibles. Not readily available in years past despite its following,
today we see significant growth in the demand for quality NASCAR
wall clocks, four-color imprinted collector license plates, die-cast
1:64 racing cars and 8 x 10 photographs of the top drivers.
Onslaught and Magic Legions Decks
In the world of gaming, retailers are attuned to today’s gamers
multi-game orientation. Trying products like Yu-Gi-Oh! is not a
risk; the market is already there. Also, there are increased sales
with the Magic Onslaught and Magic Legions theme decks
and boosters. All year there will be more exciting releases. The
Bobbing Head business has undergone incredible growth in recent
months. Just looking at a website such as letsgetwacky.com proves
what an incredible following this collectible category has.
How do you and your sales reps approach retailer relationships?
Rusty Wallace NASCAR Bobble Dobble
To really be of value to a retail customer today, you have to interact
with them. Engaging in active listening on the phone is crucial.
You have to find out what their fears are, figure out what motivates
their customers, and even offer tips on how to effectively display
products. Retailers are discovering that their sales are coming
from more than just one kind of collectible. End caps or wings with
“Sports Line products” that impact more than one category
of product are common now. At Sports Line, we speak in terms of
“programs” of solid hitters, which appeal to the entire
gaming market. Our retailers want to know what the most driven products
are with the best profit potential. We have 15 highly trained and
committed sales people who share that information with customers.
I have found that too many retailers know very little about their
customers or what they like because some will admit to me that they
have never asked customers questions about product demand. Now they
do informal market research with their customers routinely, and
the information is invaluable for making sound buying decisions
when they order.
example, in many locations, Pokemon cards are still popular with
gamers. However, if a store buyer makes up his mind in advance that
the Pokemon phenomenon is over, the store will fail to make any
sales with that product. There may well be missed opportunities
for product sales, with the customer going elsewhere. We understand
that every retailer needs to be related to as an individual. The
essence of proper category management hinges on meeting the needs
of each customer and not lumping them together by a sales representative.
Compromising the personal touch is so common in business today.
Verbal contact is crucial. I spend time with people just starting
out in their business, as well as veterans. I find it exciting to
see the role we fill in guiding customers to new opportunities that
generate impressive profits. That gives my fellow sales representatives
and me at Sports Line a great deal of satisfaction.