Case Study by Jean-Pierre Laxroix RGD, President of Shikatani Lacroix
Shikatani Lacroix has worked closely with the Toronto Blue Jays organization on multiple initiatives over the years and has helped translate this brand refresh across the Rogers Centre, the organization's corporate spaces and their community outreach programs, including Jays Care. This intimate knowledge of the Blue Jays brand has paved the way for exciting results with the new Jays Shop.
The initial assignment consisted of launching a satellite Jays Shop at the Eaton Centre to capitalize on the location's heavy shopping traffic and strong tourist attraction. Following the success of the first store, Shikatani Lacroix was commissioned in 2007 to develop a 10,000-square-foot flagship store at the Rogers Centre that would allow the organization to capitalize on selling Major League Baseball merchandise. In 2010, Shikatani Lacroix was contacted again to create a multimedia season ticket recognition wall at Rogers Centre, and in 2011 the firm was engaged as a design partner to build various community spaces to showcase the Jays Care Foundation in support of sick and underprivileged children. These spaces include the Jays Care Community Clubhouse located in a former VIP suite at Rogers Centre, and a number of YMCA and Boys & Girls Clubs province-wide.
The 1994 Major League Baseball strike had eroded fan loyalty and the Toronto Blue Jays struggled to regain the energy from its back-to-back World Series wins in 1992 and 1993 and the excitement of its younger glory years in the mid to late ’80s. The lack of momentum undermined the organization’s ability to invest in new programs. When Rogers Communications purchased the team, a sense of opportunity and excitement began to emerge. During the same period, MLB moved the Expos to Washington, D.C. and renamed them the Nationals, leaving the Toronto Blue Jays as the only baseball team in Canada.
Having managed a wide range of branded experience assignments for the Toronto Blue Jays, Shikatani Lacroix identified an overarching set of objectives that was consistent across each:
- to reinforce the leadership position and Canadian equities linked to the Toronto Blue Jays;
- to create branded experiences that celebrate the history of the team and its contribution to MLB;
- to support a platform that drives incremental sales and revenues throughout the year.
As the only MLB team in Canada, the Toronto Blue Jays organization needed to broaden the appeal of baseball beyond Toronto to reach the greater Canadian market. Visitor and merchandise studies conducted by the organization had identified that Canadians from coast to coast had a strong affinity for the Blue Jays, both as a team and also as representatives of Canada. The brand experience needed to communicate the patriotic message of the Toronto Blue Jays as Canada’s only baseball club.
Shikatani Lacroix and the Blue Jays organization worked closely to develop a strategy for the new store, creating a space that was not just about the merchandise. The goal was to expand and showcase more fashionable and everyday wearable items while also highlighting the exclusive products only available at the Jays Shop.
Our competitive analysis and market research identified the following opportunities:
- the Jays Stadium Shop needed to capture merchandise dominance to entice and drive revenues, with head gear representing the greatest opportunity for incremental sales
- the branded experiences needed to provide a strong degree of scale as sales peaked prior to the game, during the game’s seventh-inning stretch and following the end of the game
- the signs and merchandising needed to have a high degree of flexibility as merchandise styles and offerings change from year to year
- sales of sports memorabilia were strong amongst tourists and visitors to Toronto, appealing well beyond the stadium experience
- the store needed to leverage the greatest in innovative digital signing to support the leadership role of the team
- the store and brand experiences need to leverage the new identity and branding of the team
In addition to offering authentic team merchandise, official memorabilia and the latest fashion apparel, the flagship store features innovative and indelible digital design solutions. Guests are greeted with a dynamic and eye-catching digital entranceway and are then led through the store on an interactive journey, including an animated hat wall and expansive digital signage.
Shikatani Lacroix designed a range of innovative digital solutions both at the entrance of the store and throughout the interior merchandising, including:
- large silhouette ten digital screen panel at the entrance
- multi-screen hat wall
- secondary digital signing to help promote new merchandise
- live game feeds cut with memorable moments from the team’s history
The new Jays Shop delivers a unique experience for customers and Jays fans.
For a project like this, it is important to consider both physical and digital 'path to purchase'. In the case of the Eaton Centre location, the technology cost for the Eaton Centre location was not confirmed until after the construction budget was identified, meaning the funds allocated to the digital aspect of the assignment were not adequate. This resulted in our client having to request additional monies outside of the original budget.
The second challenge is the perception that introducing a digital component is just a matter of buying home LCD screens and pushing content. Really, it is a much more complex issue that encompasses software, media players and industrial grade screens, all of which require significant investment.
The initial Jays Shop has had great success, consistently exceeding all sales targets regardless of the team’s success on the field. In addition to the Rogers Centre location, Blue Jays fans had another win to celebrate in the summer of 2014 with the opening of the brand new flagship Jays Shop in Toronto’s Eaton Centre, replacing the original satellite store Shikatani Lacroix had designed.
- Very often, this type of project is initiated to fill a physical site, driven by real estate or operations, while the digital experience is another silo owned by marketing. It's important for the total customer journey and experience, both digital and conventional, are integrated and considered from the beginning, including adequate budgets, as digital can represent more than 25% of the budget.
- Consider how the final execution will link to the emotional dimensions of the brand. In this case, the Toronto Blue Jays Eaton Centre store needed to capture the excitement of the game and players as part of a 2,500-square-foot store in a mall setting, allowing the store experience to reflect the essence of what the Jays stand for.
- Think of the project as a journey and not a final destination. Nothing stands in isolation in today's world and it's important that you build flexibility and modularity to allow for the design to be updated cost effectively. In the case of the Toronto Blue Jays store, both the digital signing strike zones and key merchandising areas allowed the store to remain vibrant and relevant throughout the year.
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