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The True Retail Masters and Augusta's Mind Blowing Brand Value

Have you heard the one about the retail shop that does a million dollars an hour? Oh yes, in fact most of us who understand best in class retail performance were gobsmacked when those 2024 numbers recently surfaced as the world’s most prestigious golf tournament concluded yesterday.

While the week-long event known as The Masters rakes in $152 million in total, the $70 million from the golf shop alone is enough to make even a Super Bowl’s T-Shirt vendor jealous.

To be clear, while there are some luxury items sponsored by high-end fashion brands for sale at the ANGC (Augusta National Golf Club), by in large this is a polo shirt, golf hat, pin flag sales orgy as the lucky 40,000 or so spectators who attend the actual tournament from start to finish (Thursday through Sunday) consider a spree at the golf shop the holy grail of status shopping.

We’re talking about branded merch that sends the clearest possible reminder to marketers that when you painstakingly cultivate aura and exclusivity, then you laugh in the face of bogos and sales and discounts.

I won’t drag you down the rabbit hole of a golfer’s psyche, how they feel when they return to their local cow patch golf club now sporting a green quarter zip tech jacket with the iconic (and ironically small) yellow flag that defines the Masters logo. Let’s just say the aggravation of shooting 90 is suddenly mitigated by the logo envy now cultivated in any post match bar crawl.

In a post from 2010, I pointed to the per-square retail champion at the time. Not the Apple Store - doing $7.5k per sq. foot, but the Olivander’s Wand Shop at Universal Studios: In maybe 1,000 square feet, it does about $100,000 per day selling “Magic Wands”, a.k.a. sticks. How’s that for retail economics?

Not even the cash haul at a Taylor Swift concert merch table - about $2MM per show – can compete. With its humming $277 per second/$16,000 per-minute engine, the yellow flag reigns supreme as a pound for pound sales juggernaut. 

And make no mistake, value like this isn’t relegated to upscale demos. McDonald’s 2020 Travis Scott LTO meal was considered the catalyst behind the brand’s 6% stock increase post launch.

At the end of the day, marketers who think that comparing The Masters and their brand is like comparing apples and peaches are missing it. From the classic Starbucks example ($4 for something that’s free in your office or pennies at home), to Build-A-Bear and their $70 average furry friends, stunning brand value propositions are nothing new. Yet these are the marketers who remain myopic about functional attributes and race-to-the-bottom sales schemes instead of leaning in to the power of brand envy, cultivating it over time, understanding how to inherently build the power of their own logos.

But for marketers who plant their particular flag in the value of the brand itself, then welcome to an all too exclusive club.

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