SBD/6/Sponsorships Advertising Marketing

IS NIKE EXPERIENCING SOME GROWING PAIN IN EQUIPMENT MARKET?

          Nike's entry into the sports-equipment business is
     profiled in a front-page story by Bill Richards of the WALL
     STREET JOURNAL.  Nike has been "pondering the physics of
     equipment such as baseball gloves and bats, hockey sticks,
     footballs, golf balls and snow boards," with its "mission
     ... to design something new and then throw Nike's awesome
     marketing muscle into convincing the world of its technical
     superiority."  Nike equipment division head Andrew Mooney
     said the unit "will be Nike's fastest-growing division," and
     other Nike execs say equipment sales "will become its 'third
     engine,' powering the flagging sneaker and apparel sales." 
     But Richards adds that Nike "is playing catch-up" against
     its rivals in the $40B-a-year equipment market as
     development of its lines has "been relatively modest so far
     compared with the big bucks being shelled out by
     competitors."  For example, Nike will spend less than
     $500,000 to design a baseball glove (WSJ, 1/6).
          HOCKEY HANG UPS? Nike's "assault on the equipment
     business" began with hockey in '96, when the company
     designed a lightweight skate and a stick.  But Richards
     reports that hockey "hasn't turned out to be the easy slap
     shot Nike expected.  Retailers ... say customers have been
     returning Nike's new hockey sticks, complaining the blades
     split because of poor glue."  Richards adds that "several
     high-profile [NHL] players have complained" that Nike's
     skates "are poorly designed," including Jeremy Roenick who
     "passed up a six-figure endorsement deal with Nike after he
     tried on six pairs of its skates and none fit right."  But
     Nike's Mooney "brushes off the early flops" in the equipment
     business as "growing pains."  Mooney: "Wait till you see our
     equipment in five years" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 1/6). 

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Related Topics:

NHL, Nike, UPS

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