Dale Junior's Merchandise Sale Increases
Topics: Dale Earnhardt Jr.
May 18, 2007
Earlier this month, Dale Earnhardt Junior, the most popular driver today in NASCAR, announced that he will be leaving the team that his father, the legendary Earnhardt Senior, started. He made the announcement after failing to gain control of the DEI team from his stepmother Teresa.
After the announcement there have been speculations that the Dale Jr. merchandise sale would slow down. Currently, the two-time Busch Series champion holds the largest stake in the NASCAR merchandise market. His leaving the team has made experts concerned that the DEI is in danger of losing a driver who generates much of the money coming in for the team. The famous young driver said that he will be leaving the team after the end of the season. For now, he drives the Number 8 Budweiser Chevrolet Impala which he has ridden for only a single top five finish.
While it was feared that sale of the Dale Jr. merchandise would falter after the announcement, the exact opposite happened. Instead of slowing down, Dale Jr. merchandise sold as fast as the sale of the Chevrolet pickup hood scoop. Mark Dyer, NASCAR’s Vice-President for licensing, has this to say about the increased sale of Dale Jr. merchandise: “I was a little concerned about his sales after the announcement, what the reaction would be, but it looks like it's terrific. It looks like there's an affinity for that No. 8 car. There's been a lot of great moments, the fact that it’s a DEI car, and the whole Dale Jr. thing. I think its indicative of the fact that people aren't ready just this moment, they want at least one last souvenir before they move on to the next chapter with him.”
Dyer also pointed out that of all the drivers in NASCAR today, Earnhardt has the biggest share of the market with 25 to 30 percent share. His closest competition in the market is the winner of the recently concluded Dodge Avenger 500 which was held in Darlington, South Carolina - Jeff Gordon. It has been reported that Gordon controls about 15 to 19 percent of the market. For three straight years, Dale Earnhardt Jr. was voted by fans as the most popular driver in NASCAR today and his biggest share in the market comes as no surprise.
This same selling power of the young driver is seen as a way for Junior to gain control of DEI. Some experts think that his stepmother Teresa would be willing to give the reins of the team to Junior instead of letting him go and be left with a team with no championship to boast and a reduced income from licensing. It has been estimated that the sale of Earnhardt’s merchandise brings $30 million per year to the Dale Earnhardt Inc. His biggest sponsor is Budweiser which is yet to comment on what step they will take when Junior leaves DEI at the end of this season. In fact, the company only stated that they will be talking to Junior and DEI concerning their sponsorship of Earnhardt.
The sudden increase in Earnhardt merchandise sale is expected to slow down since production of new products will surely take time. “It's a very long process to get these things done,” says Dyer. “The car number and sponsor has to be decided, the paint scheme has to be designed and approved by Dale Jr.'s people, the team, the sponsor and then NASCAR's competition committee. Then it all has to get made. The very latest production can start to guarantee die casts for the Daytona 500 is early-to-late fall.” But once these products are available it can be expected that sales would skyrocket.
For now, Earnhardt may have his mind on things aside from his merchandise sale. This is because his run for a championship title this season has been derailed. NASCAR implemented a 100-point deduction on Earnhardt as it was found out that his car used the wrong rear wing mounting brackets. Aside from the deduction, his crew chief and cousin Tony Eury Jr. was suspended for four races. This infraction cost Earnhardt his twelfth spot in the driver standings. He now sits at the 14th spot with 1160 points and that is 721 points behind the leader Jeff Gordon. After eleven races this season, Earnhardt has so far only posted four top ten finishes.
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