Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - 30


Michigan State University
for licensed products. "We have people who support the
university from the cradle to the grave," Stevens says, noting
that MSU's brand extends from baby clothes to funeral urns.
MSU's biggest licensing category is apparel, which, in
sales terms, typically makes up 70 to 75 percent of the total
licensing business. Apparel items include men's t-shirts and
fleece, which combined are the top sellers in the category,
as well as youth and women's t-shirts and other clothing.
The university's non-apparel categories include housewares,
gifts, novelties and sports equipment, among other things.
Although shoppers are most likely to find MSU licensed
products within the state of Michigan, the university also
has a major presence online with national retailers such as
Fanatics, Kohl's and Amazon. "These are retailers where fans
all over the country can have access to a robust array of Spartan products that fit the needs of every fan," Stevens notes.
The university's longest-lived licensing partners include
Nike, MSU's sideline partner and exclusive licensee of performance apparel and replica jerseys. "Being associated with
one of the largest, most recognizable brands in the world
lends legitimacy to the Spartan brand," she adds.
Another of the university's veteran partners is Knights
Apparel, a division of HanesBrands Inc. Knights Apparel is

MSU's exclusive licensee to the mass distribution channel,
which includes retailers such as Walmart, Target and Costco.
The Northwest Company, which sells collegiate bedding,
room d├ęcor and blankets, is one of MSU's top-five non-apparel vendors. It distributes to key retailers such as Bed,
Bath & Beyond; Kohl's; Walmart and Meijer. Northwest
increased its wholesale shipments of MSU product 278 percent in July to August of this year compared to the same
period in 2015, reinforcing growth of the MSU brand.

A Strategic Approach
MSU maintains its relationships with existing licensing
partners and builds new partnerships by taking a business
development approach to licensing. "For us, relationships are
absolutely everything," Stevens says, noting that the university's business development department regularly fundraises
and hosts events. "We believe that in order to grow your
business, you have to go out and build those relationships."
The licensing department frequently travels to licensee
and retailer sites and regularly hosts retail summits. "We
bring in our top licensees, retailers and other partners to talk
about business and the unique things MSU does and what
our school is all about," Stevens says.
MSU in January will host a retail appreciation event at
the Sports Licensing and Tailgate Show in Las Vegas in
January. This is the first time the college has hosted such an
event at the Tailgate Show. "Most of our top retailers and
licensees will be there, so we're taking our show on the road
and developing business in a place we know everyone will
be," she adds.
The university also takes a strategic approach to its licensing and marketing efforts. MSU is aided in this effort by
its licensing agency, The Collegiate Licensing Co. (CLC),
which it started working with in July 2015. CLC is provid30

MSU.indd 30

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Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016

Contents
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - Cover1
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - Cover2
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - 1
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - 2
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - Contents
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - 4
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - 5
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - 6
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - 7
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - 8
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Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - 28
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Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - 30
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Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - Cover3
Retail Merchandiser - November/December 2016 - Cover4
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