St. Peter's University Merch Sales Explode Thanks to Historic NCAA Tournament Run
St. Peter's University, a school that most people just heard about for the first time because of its unlikely deep run in the NCAA tournament and fun mascot (go Peacocks!), might just be everyone's new favorite college sports team.
Even though the Peacocks crashed out of the tournament in the Elite Eight, their Cinderella story inspired new fans to stock up on St. Peter's merch, and created a huge financial windfall for the Jersey City school.
According to Bloomberg, the school saw not only an increase in applications for prospective students, but a 278% increase in donor pledges over last year. The school also reported $47,000 in on-campus merchandise sales over the week of March 17 to March 24, as well as an additional $100,000 in licensed product sales on Amazon over the weekend of March 19 alone.
For comparison, the school said it brought in $20,000 in on-campus sales for the entire Fall 2021 semester, and $50,000 in Amazon sales between January and August of 2021.
So, needless to say, being the first 15 seed in history to reach the Elite Eight made a big impact on the school. Even famous people jumped on board the St. Peter's merch bandwagon:
What? I have been cheering for Saint Peter’s for years. They are my local New Jersey basketball team. Go Peacocks!! pic.twitter.com/lHrGPgW9NL
— Eli Manning (@EliManning) March 24, 2022
“We anticipated that they would be competitive,” Eugene Cornacchia, president of Saint Peter’s University, said according to Bloomberg. “But the amount of media attention, the amount of public support for the team as they progressed through this has been just more mind-blowing.”
Basketball fans might remember something similar happening to Florida Gulf Coast, which capitalized on some "Dunk City" merchandise after overachieving in the 2013 tournament. Similarly, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, sold 3,000 T-shirts in one night after defeating No. 1 seeded University of Virginia in 2018.
Buzz like that doesn't last very long for small schools, so St. Peter's will capitalize on the hype of the present, knowing it won't stay around forever. Now that it's out of the tournament, the marketing strategy will revolve around the 3.31 average student-athlete GPA, proving that the Peacocks work hard off the court and hopefully attracting some new student-athletes.
That, combined with the new NIL rules, has changed the way college sports recruiting operates. As for recruiting new fans, all it takes is a standout mascot, some available merchandise and an unprecedentedly impressive performance in one of the most-watched sports events in the world. Easy, right?