The Evening Post:- 22nd March
“The New Era of Retail Collaborations: Sports Direct & Game!”
Roaming through my rather cavernous Sports Direct in search of school sports supplies, I was considering the proposed collaboration between Sports Direct and Game. The idea is to share retail space and bring their brands together under one roof.
It makes complete sense, serving different retail and leisure needs but to the same customer, whilst both offering something positive to the joint physical experience.
The collaboration is also interesting in that it marries together two retail brands heading from very different origins but now to the same common ground. Game from a software retailer to a provider of physical experiences and Sports Direct from a discount sports brand heritage to that of a lifestyle store experience.
The common ground they’ve both arrived at is e-sports, which both brands have quite rightly identified as a hugely lucrative place to be with a following which is growing exponentially.
What we are talking about of course, is the 2 brands creating a lifestyle proposition, which is nothing new but maybe not so common for this type of customer.
Lifestyle retail propositions have tended to revolve around upper market consumers satisfying their needs across a variety of life situations from work to play to home. They involve a common desirable taste and design style supported by attentive customer service and integrated services to support their active lifestyle.
And the Sports Direct & Game collaboration is no less valid as a lifestyle proposition albeit for a customer segment that prefers more of a passive involvement in its interests of sport and action.
The e-sports phenomena is growing as a source of live entertainment and as a physical retail space proposition.
Witness to this, the Bunkr semi-permanent pop-up store in Shoreditch which combined a retail store, bar and gaming arena for one of the leading e-sports teams – Fnatic. A six-week pop-up turned into a 13 month phenomenon. Recently closed it promises to return bigger and better than ever.
In terms of merchandise the experience was reminiscent of football club shops with e-sports fans just as willing to buy into branded shirts personalised to their star players as well as buying the latest customised gaming equipment.
Images around the store showed in glorious reality the enormous attraction of the physical events that e-sports is drawing globally, with stadiums holding up to 80,000 avid fans watching their stars and favourite teams compete.
So, somewhat ironic that physical retail spaces may be saved by online gaming.
However it is also another strong signal that whilst online is making inroads into all areas of retail and leisure all generations it would seem still crave the physical space, the live excitement and the personal interaction that these mass events offer. And for the players as well, a live audience screaming their adulation competes very favourable with a hundred thousand silent likes.
And so, back to Sports Direct & Game.
Retail brand collaboration in real physical spaces focused on distinct lifestyle consumers not only offers compelling destinations for those customers, but is the logical way out of over ambitious store portfolios and a way of optimising existing retail space whilst maintaining a geographic footprint.
In this case it seems that e-sports is a win-win situation where two heads are better than one when it comes to dealing with both the physical and virtual worlds of retail.
The Evening Post is my daily take on the day in retail…offering always a positive spin to take to your next shift at the retail coalface.
Sleep on it and drop me a line in the morning… email@example.com
Thank you for continuing to read & good luck for tomorrow! Tim Radley
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