Yesterday, Nike Golf shocked the industry by announcing that they would cease the production of their equipment (clubs, balls, bags) as of the year 2017. Every proverbial cloud does indeed have a silver lining, however, as our style editor explains...
Nike Golf News - Brand Statement
BREAKING: Nike Golf has announced that it's ending its equipment business, including clubs, balls and bags.
— Golf Digest (@GolfDigest) August 3, 2016
Surprise, bemusement, shock, panic; the statement released on the Nike Golf website certainly made an impact within the sport, with many social commentators fearing what it could all mean for the game. The reverberations will run wide and deep with questions raised over employment levels and athlete sponsorship deals, whilst many others continue in their attempts to explain and reason why such a seemingly drastic decision has been made by the biggest sports brand in the world. However, we really don't think the move is as unexpected or even as negative as it initially appears.
Nike Golf News - Explained
All that is happening here is a shift in the paradigm from a Nike viewpoint. The hardware market is saturated to such an extent that they no longer see worth in staking their claim, with no real likelihood of ever dominating that particular segment of golf retail. The apparel and footwear business is precisely where Nike have been enjoying a lot of success, especially in 2016, as we've been reporting all year. We are at the frontline of said success and to hear that the brand are bringing a renewed focus and commitment to improving their lines of clothing and golf shoes has injected our own sense of renewed focus and commitment to the brand, here at GPHQ.
A quick look on the Nike website speaks volumes. The brand have departments for an array of sports and likely dominate many of them in terms of apparel and footwear...but a few things are clearly missing. There is a tennis department without any tennis rackets; there is a skateboard department without any skateboards; there is a surf department without any surfboards. Heck, there isn't even any gym equipment available to purchase online and that has been one of their biggest growth sectors in recent years. So why, then, should they bother retailing their own brand of golf equipment?
We're not here to surmise and analyse the hardware market with stats, figures, sales reports and any other insightful data that others can gain access to. Instead, we're taking some real positives from this latest Nike Golf news with one quote in particular making us excited for what may be yet to come.
"Over the past year the MM Fly Blade Polo, the Flyknit Chukka and Air Zoom 90 have all connected strongly with golfers. We'll continue to ignite excitement with our athletes and deliver the best of Nike for the game."
As they so rightly say, Nike golf clothing and shoes have made a real impact in 2016. We've witnessed many consumers change their allegiances and have since become some of the most brand loyal golfers around. It's all thanks to a change in direction, pushing the boundaries and truly making a statement on the golf course with their athletes, ambassadors and growing number of followers around the world.
Nike Golf News - Golfers on Tour
Another aspect of the Nike Golf news is the fact that a whole new avenue opens up for signing athletes on clothing sponsorship deals, removing the need to use the brand's equipment. We suspect that, behind the scenes, this has been one of the most significant barriers in securing sponsorship deals in the past and so it makes complete sense to eradicate this hindrance for the benefit of future negotiations. Just how many of the world's top athletes can the brand attract with apparel-only deals, with the freedom to use whichever clubs and balls that they wish? They already boast an impressive roster of athletes and, though it's perhaps a little premature, we would expect some big name signings to be on the horizon in the coming years.
Nike Golf News - GP Comment
Nike are an apparel and footwear brand at heart. That's where their expertise lies and that's where they know they can dominate. The brand have even now surpassed Louis Vuitton in becoming the world's most valuable brand for apparel/luxury goods. Apparel and footwear is what they do best and the general conversation across the social media channels is that, whilst the apparel is unique and controversial in places - it's also exciting, innovative and pioneering to an extent which should appeal to many fashionable golfers but more importantly, to the younger generation on the brink of picking up their first club. Granted, it's a shame that said first club won't be a Nike - but we feel it doesn't need to be in order for the brand to thrive in golf once more. We simply cannot wait to see what the future holds for Nike Golf, especially with their apparel and footwear lines for 2017 and beyond.
— Rory McIlroy (@McIlroyRory) August 4, 2016
Reading tweets about Nike leaving signals the end of golf is laughable. It was like saying Pontiac leaving was the end of new car sales.
— THP Golf (@THPGolf) August 4, 2016
Nike golf announcement should not be a huge surprise. Seldom run into golfers playing Nike clubs. Shoes and shirts, yes, but not clubs.
— Brad Ziemer (@BradZiemer) August 4, 2016
I was never a fan of Nike golf equipment. It always looked too gimmicky. Good clothes and shoes though, so stick to what you know lads.
— Andy Rowan (@andyinthesandy) August 4, 2016
I find the Nike Golf development in the wake of Adidas trying to sell TM very interesting. You can't just pump out clubs like shoes/apparel.
— Tony DeVito (@toeknee0123) August 3, 2016
— DUCKADEE (@joedgolf) August 4, 2016
— Digital Look (@DigitalLookNews) August 4, 2016
We've attached some of our favourite tweets on the Nike Golf News above, let us know your thoughts with a comment!