After over twenty years with Nike, tennis ace Roger Federer is switching teams. The sportsman recently matched up with Japanese retailer Uniqlo, which serves more casual wear than activewear—in fact, it doesn’t even make athletic shoes. It’s no surprise that the shift scores a chunkier check for Federer, but here’s what the legend’s partnership could mean for Uniqlo.
Digitally, Uniqlo has been on a downswing, sinking over twenty points in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail since last year. The brand loses out on several points where Nike and other activewear brands thrive. For example, Uniqlo lacks live chat on its brand site, making it easier for users to click out. In contrast, Nike boasts the highest trafficked site out of all its peers. When it comes to emails, 20% of Uniqlo’s do not include creative initiatives and the majority of its campaigns are not suited for mobile devices, which are fast becoming the prime platform for consumers. The swoosh brand, on the other hand, not only manages the largest email list amongst activewear brands, it segments audiences based on their individual app membership preferences, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear.
With Federer on its side, Uniqlo has the opportunity to get some much-needed exposure for its brand on the court, as opposed to on the streets, where it could often be outshined by swarms of other people wearing other brands. With all eyes on Federer as a singles player, Uniqlo’s apparel might be seen in a new light. Unfortunately, if the brand doesn’t take up athletic shoemaking, the star will have to look elsewhere to finish off his outfit, leaving room for another brand to steal the spotlight.