How sporting goods companies break out

Here, we look at show sports marketing leads to strong exposure and examine the burgeoning sport of skateboarding in particular.

To the casual investor, the world of sporting goods may seem like a finite playing field, with several big names dominating a largely stable market. However, if you look at the history of sports marketing, you will find that revolutions do happen, with some brands seeming to come out of nowhere and score massively with consumers practically overnight.

One of the most reliable predictors of a sporting brand’s success is if that brand enjoys strong exposure in the media. With this in mind, we’re going to take a look at sports marketing in general and then examine the burgeoning sport of skateboarding, which could possibly be on the verge of a breakout.

Of course, skateboarding has ebbed and flowed in terms of popularity since its birth in 1960s California, but with Olympic inclusion now guaranteed there is likely to be unprecedented attention on the sport.

Sports marketing: Origins and current state

One of the first companies to really get sports marketing right was Adidas, founded by Adolf Dassler in the early 1920s. The approach of this iconic company was to sponsor top athletes and let their successes – which included gold medals at Olympic events – become promotional tools in themselves.

Today, this tradition continues and Adidas still sponsors big names that are often in the news for their sporting prowess. The company also makes heavy use of content marketing and social media campaigns. And Adidas is not alone in its approach, with other successful sporting companies such as Nike and New Balance following similar marketing-led routes to success.

In fact, worldwide sponsorship spending reached a colossal 62.8 billion dollars in 2017 alone. This figure of course includes non-sporting companies who sponsor athletes, but should give some idea of the importance placed in this kind of marketing. And with so much money being used to fight for the attention of consumers, how can smaller brands even hope to compete? To answer this, we’re going to look at the example of skateboarding.

Skateboarding in the Olympics

A big breakthrough for skateboarding could occur when the sport makes its debut at the 2020 Tokyo Summer Olympics. Although non-official sponsors are prohibited from advertising at Olympic events, it is possible for athletes to display manufacturer logos on their equipment. What this means is that professional skateboards, like the ones available from retailers such as Skatehut, will be displayed to the millions of viewers of the Olympic Games for the first time. Could this trigger an explosion in demand for skateboard brands? Possibly, provided the brands leverage this opportunity.

It has been noted that a strong online presence can help an organisation to thrive, and with this in mind skateboard companies will possibly need to make sure that their social media activities and websites are up to scratch. There is no telling how much good a gold, silver or bronze medal from a sponsored athlete can make to a brand’s equity, but that brand wants to benefit fully it needs to have press releases, interviews and other marketing collateral ready.

Skateboarding investment opportunities

Skateboarding is a sport which has unfortunately seen numerous companies come and go. It has also, in recent years, become a popular new market for established sportswear giants – particularly in the footwear sector – and these have edged out many smaller competitors. However, even taking these factors into account there could still be opportunities out there.

Investors who want to benefit from skateboarding’s potential breakout should be brave enough to take risks on what could be the sporting brands that dominate the headlines of tomorrow. What is perhaps most important for potential investors is that they understand something of the sport and want to develop skateboarding in a positive manner. This way, both investors and skateboarders can benefit.

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel

Ben Lobel was the editor of and from 2010 to 2018. He specialises in writing for start-up and scale-up companies in the areas of finance, marketing and HR.

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