The city of Cleveland was sent into frenzy this past off-season, with the news that hometown kid LeBron James is returning home. The move has made the Cavaliers become an instant powerhouse in the Eastern Conference, but LeBron returning to Cleveland doesn’t only help the on-court product.
James returning home has made Cleveland basketball relevant again overseas. As a Cavalier fan living in Australia, it has been hard to find fellow Cavs fanatics down under. Along with the low number of fans, the chances of finding Cavalier gear in stores was also very low. On the flipside, the chances of seeing a LeBron Heat jersey in the streets of Melbourne over the past four years were extremely high. In all basketball and sport shops in Australia lately, Miami jerseys were the first, and sometimes only, basketball products you could find. Well obviously, that is about to change.
I had a chance to speak to Peter Zolkos from Basketball Jersey World to talk about how James returning home affects the sales of Cavalier gear and his business:
KJG: With the return of LeBron James to Cleveland, how much more demand has there been for Cleveland gear since the decision?
PZ: A lot of people have been asking for the LeBron Cavs jerseys, but it takes adidas usually about three to four months to produce swingman jerseys of traded players.
KJG: Now, what was the demand for Cleveland gear like before LeBron’s decision to come home?
PZ: Still quite high due to Kyrie Irving being one of the most popular young players in the game.
KJG: Have the sales of Cleveland gear improved since the decision? How were the sales before his decision?
PZ: Yes, we still had LeBron James Cavs jerseys from his first stint as a Cavalier (we weren’t stupid enough to burn them!). Within the announcement, they sold in about 12 hours.
KJG: How does LeBron changing teams help your business? Obviously Miami gear sales would have been massive over the past four years, so can you see the same sale numbers now for Cleveland gear?
PZ: It helps as it creates demand for a new jersey but because we didn’t expect this decision, we are left with a whole bunch of LeBron Heat jerseys still. They are now on special and still selling well as he was a two-time NBA champion and MVP with the Heat.
KJG: Due to LeBron’s decision, what new marketing campaigns will you need to introduce to advertise Cleveland gear? I notice you guys post a lot on Instagram and Facebook. Do you find social media the best advertising tool these days?
PZ: We don’t really need any marketing campaigns to sell LeBron Cavs gear. People jump on this like they did when he joined the Heat. Social media helps create a bit more awareness about our website and shop. Word of mouth is still one of the best advertising methods.
KJG: Do you find that the “bandwagon” fans, who will now jump ship from Miami to Cleveland, are actually the fans that are the best for your business, in terms of sales they produce?
PZ: Well we don’t really call them bandwagon fans. Certain fans follow a team and certain fans follow a player. There isn’t much loyalty in the NBA from both teams and players so fans choose to follow whatever and whoever. It does help if a player changes team to a popular team or a team with nice uniforms. For example, Dante Exum getting drafted by Utah was much worse than getting drafted by Orlando – as Orlando gear sells much better then Jazz gear. But wherever LeBron goes, the jerseys will sell.
I would like to personally thank Peter for taking his time out to talk to me. To check out the latest basketball jerseys, along with some hard to find retro gear, please go to http://www.basketballjerseyworld.com.