Do You Speak Sneakers?

Sports and technology have long fused and become one. Just remember the Sydney Olympic Games in 2000: The introduction of high-tech swimsuits caused much uproar because they enhanced the athletes’’ performance disproportionately. Until 2009, 43 new world records were set which, in all probability, wouldn’t have been possible without the high-tech gear – which eventually resulted in the ban of those full-body swimsuits. The tragedy for all following athletes: Despite the ban, the new world records remained in place.  

But even looking to the other side of professional sports – the fans – it is undeniable that technology is now inseparably interwoven with the sports and accessories and equipment consumption. The Report “The Future of Sports,” released in 2016 under Jeremy Jacobs (owner of the Boston Bruins), proves how vital smartphones and social media have become for today’s Generation Z.

Those born after the mid-1990s follow and like individual sports stars more loyally than the respective teams, and the youngsters attend games not “for the games” but to hang out with friends and family. And Generation Z loves their footwear! They know exactly when “their” stars release a new shoe – and they add it to their sports shoe collection on the same day, too. In that regard, the secondary market (i.e., the re-selling of sneakers to friends or people online) has become just as lucrative: In 2016, the Financial Times pegged the secondary market for sneakers at $1 billion (US).  

With that in mind, I wonder: How attractive are retail stores for the so-called Generation Z? When lifestyle and identity rank higher than the functionality of sportswear, we need marketing strategies that meet the younger people where they are “at home” (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat). And we have to speak a language that is heard and understood by them, too. So do you speak sneakers?

[The full report The Future of Sports can be read here.]