I watch basketball maybe once or twice per year. But I couldn’t help getting caught up in the Cinderella story of March Madness, 2013 – Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU). For those of you who watch even less than me, #15 FGCU is a virtually new university that graduated its first class of 18 students in 2001. Yet, it beat #2 ranked powerhouse Georgetown and #7 ranked San Diego State before ultimately losing to Florida last Friday night.
The result? Sales at the campus bookstore went up over 1000% the day after they beat Georgetown. The following day, after FGCU beat San Diego State, the bookstore was closed, but the online store received over 500 orders when the game ended. Typically, online orders number about 20-30 per day. National retailers near the Fort Meyers campus, like Target and Dick’s Sporting Goods, placed rush orders on the following Monday to take advantage of the buying frenzy.
Clearly the sudden surge in FGCU popularity created an insatiable demand for FGCU merchandise. In fact, the vice president and spokeswoman for the university was quoted as saying “We’re pretty much selling everything that is not bolted down.” Nevertheless, one can only speculate as to how many much money was left on the table because product was unavailable to be purchased in the frenzy of the moment.
More broadly, there was a temporary market force (FGCU’s improbable wins) that gave rise to opportunistic revenue generation (for everything FGCU) for a very limited time period (until a short time after they lose or until after the NCAA tournament ends).
From FGCU, to the home improvement mini-boom on the east coast after Hurricane Sandy, many businesses and industries have experienced “the perfect storm” of temporary market conditions that gave rise to short term or opportunistic revenue generation.
The question is, how can companies best prepare to take advantage of these impulse sales? Because after the impetus for the impulse purchase ends, it ends fast – I wouldn’t want to be holding a lot of excess FGCU inventory today. Just take a look at all the bargain bins of Super Bowl clothing in mid-February!
When I was in the music business, it was a not-so-well guarded secret that very detailed plans existed for the immediate distribution of CDs and related merchandise for a number of superstars in the case of their sudden or expected deaths. One singer in particular had an entire section of the warehouse cordoned off for many years with already manufactured product, boxed and ready to go at the appropriate moment. And, when that singer ultimately died, the market was completely saturated with his product virtually overnight – and his music instantly became the best selling CDs in the entire country, albeit for a limited time, again.
Take a moment and dream big. What perfect storm of opportunity and market forces could come about to create tremendous, but perhaps temporary, demand for your product or service? Are you prepared to take advantage of the sudden surge in demand?