Branding is nothing new when it comes to the business side of college, and it makes sense to find marketing strategies that will appeal to a target audience. In the Land of Enchantment, New Mexico State University and NMSU Athletics have focused their brand deals on the consumables market for Aggie students and fans.
According to the athletic program’s marketing director, Nicole Sack, products like food and drinks are better selling points than merchandise for NMSU. “While I’ll only buy one sweatshirt in my life or one a year,” Sack said, “I could buy like 20 cookies a year or, you know, 12 six packs a year. So, that’s what we’ve been focusing on.”
The latest deal for the university was a collaboration with a New Mexico-based company, Snugglecubs Cookies. The lineup of Pistol Pete’s Pecan Treats debuted in late October, featuring New Mexican-grown pecans and milk chocolate morsels. The company’s experience in the realm of college licensing began with partnership deals between Snugglecubs Cookies with colleges like Eastern New Mexico University and the University of New Mexico.
“It was nice that they had already done [business] with Eastern [New Mexico],” Sack said. “So, we knew that they knew the CLC process. They were easy to work with.”
In addition to the company’s university brand deals, the location-based flavors, like the Taos and Pecos flavored sweets, add to the brand being all about New Mexico.
As NMSU takes 12% of the total sales, a standard rate for all university brand deals, they put a portion of the money toward scholarships, which has proven to be a wise decision for the university.
“I know there was a lot of interest from our foundation and alumni groups when this came out,” Sack said. “This is a nice product because you can buy it online, which is different from our alcohol products.”
While the rollout of the Aggie-branded cookies has been limited to an online realm, the newest flavor will be making its store debut at the FARMesilla produce market, only two miles from campus.
Aggie One-Stop, a student service center, showcases all NMSU products in-store, but cookies are not the only new product being displayed. The AggieRita, which made its debut at the Aggie’s first home football game in August, was made through a partnership with Mixed-Up Cocktail Co. and Little Toad Creek Brewery.
“We actually went in August or July, and we did a taste testing of all their canned cocktails,” Sack said. “We liked the raspberry margarita flavor because it was reminiscent of the color of our school, and it was easy to drink and actually tasted good.”
NMSU’s marketing success has been recognized by achieving the second national ranking in terms of consumable sales in 2021, only behind Auburn University. “Internally, we call it our third biggest sport,” Sack said. “Behind football and men’s basketball.”
Aggie supporters can find the Snuggcubs Cookies Pistol Pete’s Pecan Treat online at https://www.snugglecubscookies.com/. The AggieRita can be purchased at Little Toad Creek in downtown Las Cruces, and the margarita can also be bought at the Stan Fulton Center and NMSU Golf Course.