Aston Villa’s Veblen Goods
The new Castore Aston Villa training wear is expensive and understandably many Aston Villa supporters aren’t too happy about it, after already having to recently swallow substantial season ticket price increases.
Are football clubs trying to make their replica kit Veblen goods or is this simply the case of a continued abuse of a loyal captive market?
A Veblen good is a product for which the demand increases as the price increases, a kind of inverse of the law of demand. It’s the bases of how supposed luxury goods work, where marketing preys on people’s need for self-esteem and affirmation, and the need to flex a status symbol.
Both demand and prices of Villa shirts (and other replica wear) has been rising since Villa were promoted back into the Premier League.
In their season year in the Championship in the 2018/19 season, Villa reported a 750% increase in shirt sales to the previous year.
In 2020, Villa were boasting a 50% increase in shirts year-on-year.
In the recent press release to announce Aston Villa’s new deal with Castore, Nicola Ibbetson, Villa’s Chief Commercial Officer stated:
“Over the past four seasons our shirt sales have increased four-fold as our supporters around the world have reconnected with the club and we are delighted to continue this journey with Castore.”
Back in the 2018/19, with Villa struggling to get out of the Championship, Villa made the move of lowering the price of the replica shirts to £50 and stated that it was part of the new partnership deal.
“The structure of this deal has allowed us to pass savings on to our most important people – the fans and we’re genuinely delighted to action that,” the then Villa Chief Commercial Officer, said at the time in the press release.
Despite being a fan favourite in terms of design and quality, the subsequent hierarchy of Villa have previously dismissed the Luke-Fanatics deal to MOMS, as not being the greatest deal for the club commercially. Obviously, with Villa entering a third season in the Championship they were losing their cache and attraction at the time for major kit supplier sponsorship.
So, since promotion, Villa supporters have been very much subjected to the commercial forces of the Premier League.
Last season Villa’s shirt was £57 with the ‘veblen’ pro-fit was £90.
This coming season should fans will be bracing themselves for a further price rise based on the evidence of the Villa training kit prices and what Newcastle United are charging.
Castore Price Comparisons
First off, Newcastle’s replica shirts for 2022/23 are £65, with the pro shirts a ridiculous £105.
So, it’s safe to say, Villa fans should see the price of their shirt rise north of last season’s £57. And based on the cost of Villa training gear announced today (more on that in a second), you’d expect a price of £60+.
Now, it gets interesting when you start to look at Castore stable mate Wolverhampton Wanderers’s pricing.
Now parking tribalism aside and remembering that Wolves have finished higher in the Premier League than both Villa and Newcastle in two of the past three seasons, the price comparisons are notable.
The cost of their standard 2022/23 season replica shirts are £10 cheaper (almost 15%) at £55 than Newcastle’s (£65). You also have the option of a long-sleeve shirt (£65), which Newcastle doesn’t offer.
The Wolves pro shirt is the same price as Newcastle’s though at £105. With Ranger’s also priced at £105, it’s a safe bet that Villa’s will follow suit.
Training Range Comparisons
Since Aston Villa have announced their training range, we can have a look at how the cost of their range directly compares to Wolves. At the moment, Newcastle United haven’t launched their club-specific training wear range yet, but I’m sure their fans will be interested to see where they pitch up compared to the below.
The prices are for the cheapest priced version of the corresponding item.
MOMS is looking forward to the explanation as to why the exact same make of training pants (same material just different colours) are priced at £60.00, 87.5% more than Wolves’ price of £32.
One insight is that Villa’s deal with Fanatics has an affect on the situation, with Wolves apparently manufacturing some of their range externally from Castore, while still under licence.
Yet, whatever the price points, the respective design templates of the Villa and Wolves versions seem exactly the same.
Wolves, according to one of their fan podcasts, are manufacturing the actual standard replica shirt separately from Castore, who manufacture their ‘pro’ fit ones.
Why would Wolves have such a deal? Surely it’s not with the sole intention to pass on a saving to their fans? Also, they were obviously working with Castore before Villa, so it’s not like Castore can’t handle the total logistics of Wolves manufacturing needs.
It is odd that Wolves have extended that two-tier pricing for shirts – the standard shirt and the ‘pro’ one – to their training gear. Allegedly, Castore make the ‘pro’ version and Wolves make the normal version under licence themselves.
Why do that? It seems odd to have two producers of what is very close to being the same product.
If Wolves have fallen on a way of keeping costs down, then why haven’t Villa taken it, in the case of this training range? After all, a kid isn’t going to notice the difference, but a parent’s wallet does.
Prices are a joke when compared to wolves, same kit maker. Kids training top £24 to our £45 !!— John Gallett (@JohnGallett) June 27, 2022
Whatever deal Villa have with Fanatics, which they were very happy to recently renew, you cannot excuse a 87.5% price difference for what essentially is the same item.
Go back to 2018, when the club made a big point of spinning a bad commercial deal for themselves, as ‘great for the fans’, what’s the marketing spin for fans this time?
* Further investigation to come.