New face for hockey cataloger

What’s in a name? Plenty, according to Craig Rief. One year ago, Rief bought the Rollinsford, NH-based Boston Hockey Co.: a print catalog, a Website, and two stores. He has since grown the hockey gear marketer into 1-800-Faceoff.com, which he calls “a 360-degree brand.”

Boston Hockey Co. had been a part of the highly fragmented hockey supplies market since 1993. But while the company had made a name for itself, Rief nonetheless felt it necessary to change that name. “I wanted to dominate the market, and I saw branding as the key ingredient,” he says. “The Boston Hockey name was too [geographically] limiting, but the company had always had the 1-800-Faceoff phone number, so I decided to incorporate that as the new name. Now the name reflects the catalog phone number and the URL, and every channel serves to illustrate the multitude of ways customers have to contact us.”

In addition to a new name, the catalog received a new look. After holding a focus group, Reif dropped the cover photos depicting hockey team or father-and-son moments, replacing them with edgier hockey action shots. The goal: to better address competitive players ages 12-35.

The catalog and Website creative also differentiates more clearly the product categories, which include in-line skating, figure skating, women’s hockey, and children’s hockey gear. And 1-800-Faceoff.com plans to increase offerings in some of these secondary categories as well.

While the Boston Hockey Co. catalog mailed annually to 200,000 names, 1-800-Faceoff.com will mail four times a year to 800,000-1 million names. After three post-rebranding mailings, Rief reports that the company is ahead of its “moderately aggressive” plan. In September, the company opened its third store.

Rief treats each channel as its own business, producing separate profit-and-loss reports so that he can track progress using the appropriate benchmarks, such as square-inch analysis for the catalog and sales-per-square-foot analysis for the stores. But he makes certain that regardless of the channel, customers can expect the same product categories, the same merchandise – and of course, the same name.

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