Make no mistake: Going to the Masters gives you cred among your fellow golf fans. (The fact that you can prove it by wearing some of the great apparel is another great, albeit silent, statement).
Unfortunately, things are a little (okay, a lot) different this year. But the Masters is nothing if not accommodating to its ticket holders and wants to bring the experience home to them. So this year, in lieu of having fans present, tournament officials are allowing its ticket holders (and nobody else) access to the prestigious swag collection.
In other words, it’s the next best thing to being there.
Maybe, notes, Promo Marketing Magazine, “it’s not quite as coveted as the green jacket” but it’s still going to be a badge of pride.
Officials have already sent around the word that this year’s ticket holders would be guaranteed the same tickets for the 2021 Masters, or could apply for a refund (or could even get a refund and still buy tickets for 2021), according to Golf Digest. And now, 2020 ticketholders will now find their tickets give them access to what an Augusta spokesperson called “an online shopping experience.”
Which is actually a good thing, since otherwise, the Masters would be left with a lot of hats, shirts, accessories, pin flags, drinkware, garden gnomes, onesies – you name it, they have it. And it stands to be a sizeable loss otherwise, noted Promo Marketing, since, Golf.com reported that Augusta National makes just shy of $50 million in merchandise revenue each year.”
All together now: Wow.
And, noted Promo Marketing, “That number might be a little lower since there’s no possibility for impulse buys in the clubhouse, but with the exclusivity still intact and with the added bonus of being able to commemorate the tournament that happened behind “closed doors,” there's still potential for big sales.”
But it might even out for the 2020 Masters merch sales anyway. After all, many golf fans fly to attend the tournament in person and though tempted to buy, might be inhibited by the fact that they’d have to pay extra baggage fees for something heavier or bulkier like folding chairs or framed portraits of the famed 9th hole. Being able to have the online store ship items directly circumvents that problem (and opens up the door for some great online holiday gift shopping).
All information regarding the sale of 2020 merch will be sent directly to ticket holders.
The store on the grounds of Augusta National already received breathless praise from writers, Promo Marketing’s Brendan Menapace noted:
As Mike Buteau of Forbes put it: "This isn't a typical merchandise tent you would find at other golf events or even something you would find in the nicest NFL stadium. It's a merchandise mall on the grounds of a golf course."
Teddy Greenstein from the Chicago Tribune wrote: "On Monday afternoon I waited in a line that started outdoors and snaked around in the shape of a block 'I.' It was the length of a United Airlines TSA line at O'Hare, but moved much quicker, less than 10 minutes to get inside. And once inside … wow."
It’s not the first time the idea of using an online store to replace an in-person event has been suggested; however, the Masters concept has managed to make lemonade, despite the bitter disappointment of not having fans present. And overall, the promotional merchandise industry has been helping event owners to adapt.
Timothy M. Andrews, president and chief executive officer of the Advertising Specialty Institute, tells Fortune that some companies are finding innovative ways to still generate business.
“The promo industry is nothing if not creative,” he says. "One member suggests sending registered participants at a canceled event branded tissues with messaging suggesting it ‘blows’ that the event was canceled."
For events that are smaller-profile than something like the Masters, Promo Marketing Magazine notes, but still a big-time revenue stream for promotional products businesses, many suppliers are offering discounted or free drop shipping. For example, if a state games event opts to go online, offering virtual participation, it could offer all participants the T-shirt and participation medal, mailed automatically. Is it the same? Nope but it accomplishes the same goal set in the first place: keeping the brand in front of people after the event is over. A growing number of promotional suppliers have waived or reduced drop shipping fees, making it much easier for distributors to get products in end users' hands.
The Masters model is likely to lead the way for many event owners who have either transitioned over to a virtual model, or who will, for now, be presenting their events behind closed doors.
Something that has not been discussed yet, however, includes when the 2020 merch will be made available to the general public – it may be that organizers are waiting until after the November event – or it may be that they are waiting to see the response to the initial offering from ticket holders before making a decision. Another question is whether the Masters will ask 2020 merch buyers not to resell their online store purchases immediately – although it’s obvious they will be a hot item.