Are Universities the Next Big Subscription Box Market? This Startup Thinks So
It’s six o’clock. You’ve just got home from work and all you want to do is sit back and relax, maybe grab some dinner or fall asleep in front of the TV. The only thing is, you’ve got a game to go to, and you have to rush if you’re going to make it for the 7:30 start. You search frantically in your closets and drawers for something you can wear, but you can’t seem to find anything related to your team. You settle for a shirt with similar colors, and head to the game. You end up on the jumbotron, and everyone in the arena starts to boo, forcing you to make an early exit before your lack of team spirit gets you into any real trouble.
We’ve all been in this situation. OK, maybe not that last part, but if you’ll excuse my flair for the dramatic, you’ll know what I’m getting at. It’s nice to show up to a sporting event with the proper attire, if only to feel like you belong in that sea of cheering fans.
One small startup in Greer, S.C., has made a move to cash in on consumer demand for fan apparel and merchandise. Anthem Club, started by a trio of friends, is a subscription box service that is looking to send merchandise to fans of college sports teams. So far, the service packages and delivers goods to fans of Clemson University and the University of South Carolina, but it is clear that there is ample room for growth in their operation.
A lot of companies have been launching their own subscription box services lately, including Adidas and Under Armour. These services look to develop and cultivate dedicated customers who not only look forward to receiving periodical collections of apparel and other types of merchandise, but also trust the service to send them products that they will enjoy. There have also been companies, such as Dollar Shave Club, Sports Crate and Loot Crate, that have built their entire business model around subscription box services, and these have had a tremendous amount of success.
While Anthem Club is certainly based on the same model that these other services have used, the startup has potential to do things differently. By delivering goods to specifically targeted fan bases, especially fan bases as passionate as those that follow college sports teams, Anthem Club could see itself grow exponentially through word of mouth and recommendation by fans who have enjoyed its service.
Not only this, but Anthem Club (and future services like it) could find itself forming close relationships with the promotional products industry. The service is seasonal, with subscription boxes sent out in August, November, February and May. Each one of these seasons will be associated with a particular sport, with football-related merchandise going out in August just in time for the beginning of football season.
In each box, Anthem Club will send a combination of apparel, accessories and branded merchandise. So, for the summer season, it could send a T-shirt with a hat and a tumbler, while for winter it could ship a hoodie, a beanie and a travel mug. This variety of goods could allow the company to engage with a number of distributors (or their clients) in order to obtain a wide range of promotional products.
This story also points to the possibility for distributors to get in on the subscription box business themselves. A subscription box service would be a clever way for distributors to build additional revenue while also expanding upon the variety of services they already offer. Many distributors already count colleges and universities as clients, and this service could be used to strengthen these business relationships even further.
If this service manages to grow, it could provide a lucrative means of forming viable relationships with end-users. Its college-oriented fan base is certainly passionate enough to give it the notoriety it will need to become popular, and its need for a range of promotional products could allow it to form strong relationships with industry representatives. Although Anthem Club is small, its business model shows a ton of promise. Time will tell if the subscription service will manage to live up to it.