The Ambassador Challenge


By now we have received a number of great reviews covering different aspects of the soccer jerseys selected for reviewing. The reviews were written without the presence of any particular guidelines nor much editorial interference.

The results were great but to receive 6 similar reviews of similar types of products will not be entirely productive. So we now up the ante and challenge our ambassadors on their analytical capabilities and not least their creative thinking.

This is what we call The Ambassador Challenge.

Before we get to the challenge let’s try to provide some background info.

According to Sports Markt a German sports market consultancy soccer jerseys make up 53% of the total licensed sporting goods market. That is a big chunk of the total but at the same time it means that 47% of the total sales are not jerseys. Included in that second group are products like match wear (shorts & socks) , training wear (tops, track suits), leisure wear (tees, tops), merchandise (scarves, flags), equipment (bags), hardware (balls) etc.

While the jerseys sell themselves pretty much as being the physical representation of the club or the team par excellence it can pose a few challenges to actually market and sell the products from the other categories.

The traditional way of slicing it (with the goal of selling more) is by producing substitutes and complementary products while at the same time trying to segment according to different attributes. In the sales process “cross-sell” and “up-sell” features are prevalent mechanisms. But where does this take us exactly ?

Our point of departure has been the jersey. We have shipped out jerseys and in return received reviews of those jerseys. Most of the jerseys we sent out were customized. Customization features as an “upsell” in the world of soccer. Shorts and socks would typically be the predominant “cross-sell” products since together with the jersey they would make up an entire kit as seen on TV. For kids that might work well while for many adults shorts and socks are not complementary since grown-ups are not keen on imitating someone else down to the slightest detail rather adults prefer to create their own style by adding different elements from different sources.

Challenge Number 1:

Part 1:

For those ambassadors receiving a jersey customized (upsell version) and a plain jersey blank on the back what is strongest argument for making the upsell ? What makes the customer decide whether to add the customization (whether badges, player name or custom name) or whether to leave it blank ? How important is price in order to make this decision ? Is there a specific price point which acts as the decider ? What kind of value does badges / name & number kit bring to the jersey. Is design of the name and number set important or is it primarily about relating to the player ? Is the upsell easier to make than the cross-sell ? because the jersey is THE item where all the attention is focused etc.

Part 2:

The cross-sell. If you want to induce a shopper to add a second item to shopping cart assuming that the shopper has already added a jersey which products would you present to this individual ? And what would be their attributes ? Would it be the shorts and the socks to make up the full match kit ? Would it be a discounted jersey from last season to avoid paying full price for two products but functionally obtaining two full good jerseys ? Would it be an entirely different product type – like a piece of merchandise or a basic pair of branded Nike shorts with no club affiliation ? etc.

Challenge Number 2:

Product segmentation & substitution / complementary effects.

Nike works with a number of different short sleeve tops which can be ranked like this:

Authentic match jersey (900 DKK RRP)

Replica match jersey (600 DKK RRP)

Stadium match jersey (400 DKK RRP)

Pre-Match top (400 DKK RRP)

Training top (300 DKK RRP)

Cotton Tee (250 DKK RRP)

My best guess is that these products are substitutes rather than complementary products. That either you buy a training top or you buy a replica jersey. But you do not buy a training jersey for training, a pre-match top for warming up before a match, and a match jersey for playing a match. For the fan it is either or.

At mmsports we have had difficulties in getting any significant sales volume of the training wear products like the pre-match top, the training top, the cotton tee. The customers seem much more inclined to buy a previous season or even several seasons earlier jersey at the price points represented by the training wear s/s tops.

At the other end it is very difficult for the consumer to figure out what the difference / benefit is between the 3 different kinds of jerseys. Long sleeve – short sleeve seems to be a no-brainer though.

If a training top / pre-match top / fan tee / graphic tee etc. were to become a popular product for the fan what would it take ?

Different price point ?

Different product attributes ?

Different use among athletes or different marketing strategy ?

Or is it a dead end which should rather be dis-continued or limited to the point of obsolescence ?


So we have now posed two challenges to our ambassadors:

One relating to the jerseys

One relating to the jersey substitutes

Of course these questions might be answered quantitatively by looking at the numbers and all the data available but sometimes qualitative methodologies bring different insights and can provide out of the box information which the numbers cannot do.

So that is why we now bring you these 2 ambassador challenges which can be used to frame part of the review. The issues raised should not necessarily be answered point by point but it would be interesting if part of the thinking were to be included in the Sep / Oct reviews.


By the numbers. From the Nike Fall 2011 whole sale catalogue.

The Man Utd adult men’s range.


Away – 1 piece

Home – 1

Goal keeper L/S – 2 pieces

Long Sleeve away – 1

L/S home – 1

Total number of items including styles (meaning different colors of a product): 6

(had the authentic jersey and the stadium jersey also been available it would have been: 8-9)

Match kit:

Away sock – 1

Home socks – 2

Match shorts – 4

Total: 7

Training wear:

Training top – 2

Sleeve Less top – 1

Pre-match top – 3

Training top II – 2

Midlayer top L/S – 2

Rain jacket – 1

Longer short – 1

Pants – 1

Side line jacket – 2

Trainer jacket – 2

Authentic track jacket – 2

Total: 19

Short sleeve tops: 8

Long sleeve tops: 9

Bottoms: 2

Leisure wear:

Authentic tee – 2

Core tee – 2

Core polo – 2

Authentic polo – 3

Rugby shirt – 1

Core hoodie – 2

M65 jacket – 1

Best hoodie – 1

Best jacket – 1

Authentic hoody – 2

Caps – 2

Total: 19

Short sleeve tops: 9

Long sleeve tops: 8

Other: 2

All together: 51 Man Utd products (53 including authentic and stadium jerseys)

13 match kit products ( 26 % )

38 leisure and training wear products ( 74 % )

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