The University of Nebraska-Lincoln Athletics Department is one of 38 IMG College Licensing partner institutions that recently implemented a more comprehensive strategic apparel brand management licensing program. Using expansive data and analysis tools to identify growth areas, the Athletics Department, working with IMG College Licensing, developed a customized matrix of best-in-class licensees that will create higher brand value. These licensees show a deep commitment to the Nebraska brand, provide excellent products for consumers, and possess resources for strategic marketing efforts.
In calendar year 2016, Nebraska had 159 apparel licensees reporting royalties; however, the top 50 licensees generated 92% of sales and total royalties. As a result, Nebraska worked with IMG College Licensing to issue an RFP to all current vendors with Nebraska apparel rights in order to achieve greater return and identify more committed licensees.
After a thorough review of all proposals, data analysis, retail intelligence, and several discussions, Nebraska awarded 63 companies apparel rights of some capacity beginning January 1, 2017. Each company was selected based on its current business and what product categories and distribution channels were its expertise in order to ensure the Nebraska consumer was being served at all retail levels. All program licensees are required to pay an elevated royalty rate and annual minimum royalty guarantee for this semi-exclusivity. In 2018, a non-apparel RFP was completed to accomplish the same goal.
This customized strategy helps ensure that the Nebraska consumer is being served at the local and national level and across all retail channels of distribution. This strategy has allowed the University to streamline its licensee base while ensuring involvement from key licensees or those serving niche product needs. Specific to local licensees, 41 companies based in the state of Nebraska currently have either apparel or non-apparel rights for the Nebraska licensing program.