Unexpected Ways E-commerce Companies Can Capitalize On March Madness Trends

March Madness is well underway, and while sales and stock prices soar for businesses like Buffalo Wild Wings, Domino’s Pizza, and other companies traditionally associated with the NCAA tournament, not all advertisers can pay the high price tag for the exposure garnered from $1.5 million for a 30 second ad spot during the title game. While the likelihood of scoring a perfect bracket is 1 in 9.2 quintillion (that’s a 9 with 18 zeros behind it), consumers are spending $12 billion on NCAA tournament betting alone. What this means for savvy ecommerce companies? You’ve got a captive audience of invested consumers, and when done right, the NCAA consumer craze can help boost our bottom lines.

The good news is, not all businesses need to fork over the big bucks to take advantage of the marketing mania around the NCAA tournament. The emotional highs and lows of March Madness for fans as they watch their teams win, lose, and scrape by with the skin of their teeth, provide opportunities ripe for e-commerce companies to capitalize on impulse consumerism that comes with living in the moment of a sports fanatic. Opportunities that still exist this late in the game and intensify as the tournament goes on come down to three things: staying relevant, timely, and targeted. 



Take the basketball craze. As college basketball reaches a fever pitch in March and budding players and seasoned amateur sports fans alike get the bug to up their own game, ebook creators like Jacob Hiller can earn big. Boasting sales into the seven figures, the Jump Manual is a product you’ve never heard of but one that earns its creator big bucks in the basketball arena.  

Or how about the fact that college applications are up during the NCAA tournament, particularly for Cinderella schools enjoying the extra (and unexpected) exposure. And online courseware companies like Udemy offer courses like March Mathness that teaches students popular sport ranking methods and how to create March Madness brackets with them. But with college applications trending up this time of year, the NCAA tournament also provides an untapped opportunity to pitch courses like College Admission Success

And it’s no secret that the junk food industry (particularly things like pizza, beer, and dessert) would spike around sports seasons. In fact, one study found there are 19% more pizza orders and a 9% rise in dessert orders by fans of a losing team. And as fans eat their emotions, health and fitness companies can craft ways to capitalize on that post-loss pizza and dessert guilt. A cook book, a continuity program, or even access to a paid private Facebook group is sure to get you back on the right track.

Apparently, some male fans want permission to stay on the couch so badly during March that vasectomies are up 50% in the days leading up to the NCAA tournament. What?! A less permanent and equally effective excuse for couch surfing may be a last-minute getaway, for college basketball fanatics or the less interested family members. Consider visiting a friend for the weekend or sending the rest of your family on a relaxing (for them and you) last-minute trip with deals from discount travel sites like Travelzoo, Expedia, or Kayak. 

As the NCAA tournament progresses into the sweet sixteen and final four and fandom intensifies accordingly, offers positioned in ways relevant, timely, and targeted to the emotional highs and lows of March Madness fans can have e-commerce companies earning big. Basketball relevant discount offers geared toward diehard fans, a carefully timed email campaign after a favored team’s win (or loss), or a fan group targeted social promotion playing to the sentiments of the moment (bad call!) can be a slam dunk. Savvy businesses that put one, two or all three of these tips into practice can sit back, watch some hoops, and rake in the revenue.

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