In a noteworthy shift, luxury brands are now making their presence felt in sports sponsorship. Prada made headlines by announcing its collaboration with the Chinese women's soccer team for the upcoming FIFA Women's World Cup.
Partnering with the soccer-inspired lifestyle brand Able Made, luxury fashion house Burberry introduced a unique soccer apparel collection crafted from upcycled Burberry fabrics. Adding to the list, the prominent luxury conglomerate LVMH recently revealed its sponsorship of the forthcoming Paris Olympic Games.
Athletic giants like Nike and Adidas dominated the sports retail landscape for a long time. However, the emerging trend suggests that luxury brands are eyeing a piece of the lucrative sports market. While both luxury and traditional athletic brands can coexist, experts believe that luxury brands have the potential to capture substantial market share.
Matt Powell, an advisor at the retail consultancy firm Spurwink River, emphasized the significance of sports in today's retail world. He noted that the massive media coverage and personal engagement from consumers present an opportunity for luxury brands to introduce their offerings to a broader audience.
Major sporting events, such as the upcoming Women's World Cup, are expected to attract billions of viewers, providing an excellent platform for luxury brands to gain international attention.
Prada & LVMH: Sports Sponsorship Success
For instance, Prada's strategic focus on China has paid off, with tailored marketing efforts resulting in increased brand visibility.
Their partnership announcement with the Chinese soccer team garnered over 300 million views on Weibo, a popular microblogging site. Similarly, LVMH's involvement in the 2024 Paris Olympics is set to attract global attention, and the luxury brand aims to leverage this opportunity to enhance its brand reputation.
While luxury brands might not venture into producing performance-focused sports apparel, they can tap into the flourishing athleisure market. Collaborations like Able Made's collection with Burberry, featuring hoodies, joggers, and jackets, demonstrate how luxury brands adapt to cater to younger consumers' preferences.
Beyond the sporting events, luxury brands can also explore partnerships with athletes in sports-adjacent gatherings like the NBA draft. Brands like Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana have established a strong presence during such events, aligning their image with the sports culture.
However, stepping into the sports arena comes with its own set of challenges. Luxury brands may lack the experience and data to identify the most promising athletes or teams. Additionally, sponsoring teams rather than individual athletes may expose brands to potential risks if values and behaviors clash.
Nonetheless, experts believe that the allure of reaching new and younger audiences through sports is compelling enough for luxury brands to venture into this domain further. Drawing parallels with the earlier trend of luxury brands entering the sneaker market, Powell predicts that more luxury brands will continue to explore sports-related ventures in the future.