Does brand matter?

Recently I’ve been having conversations with people and businesses about the development of Floorball. Many are looking to figure out the current market while trying to ascertain what the potential future market will hold. Through these conversations it’s had me thinking about the future of the sport, specifically in North America. Does it matter what brand you use?

One of the interesting things about the development of sports is the surrounding businesses and manufactures that pop up as a result. These businesses are important in the development of the sport because they introduce new technology designed to improve or enhance the player or the game. Whether a specific product helps or hurts the game is the topic for another time. However, what makes one brand better than another? In the early stages of a sport does it really matter to the consumer? Business is about showing how your product is different from other competitors in the market. For someone new to a sport what is it that makes one brand stand apart in their decision-making process?

In Floorball there are several established brands and emerging brands in the sport. In an emerging marketing most people don’t know or maybe don’t care what the differences are between brands. So how do brands make that buying connection to grab hold of market share? In the current market I’m seeing most decisions being made based on things like design or color preference. All the technology and performance built into a stick doesn’t matter as much, at least for most people starting out. Pricing tends to be the more important factor. On the other side, those brands that can sell their story have a better chance at attracting customers. It’s about the message and what it conveys to the consumer.

I had a conversation with a major brand who is looking at Floorball and trying to figure out how they could break into the market. I won’t divulge who, but I believe that if this business were to jump into Floorball it would bring a new level of brand awareness and growth to the sport. The conversation I had was insightful and brought up a lot of valid questions on the potential path this organization could take. It had me thinking about branding. Do you make most of your purchases based on the label or are do other factors come in to play that are more important? It really depends on the consumer and what they’re looking for. I think that one advantage an established brand could have is already having brand loyalty from other markets. This might attract these same people to their new products, but it might not. Also, an individual purchase tends to have different needs or requirements than a bulk purchase. A school looking to purchase equipment may care less about the name on the equipment versus what they have in their available budget. It really depends on each brands mission and market strategy.

For established sports brands looking to get into Floorball, part of the question they must answer is do they add Floorball to their current arsenal of products under their brand, or do they purchase an existing brand? Think of it this way. Would you buy a Floorball stick just because it said NHL, or Nike on it? Let’s assume you know nothing about the equipment and you’re simply looking to get involved. Does the brand on the stick matter as much to you? Is it a selling point? I think a lot of it depends on the brand behind it and its correlation to the sport or similar sports. Personally, I’d love to see that happen, and I think there are some current sports manufactures out there that would certainly drive sales based on their name and reputation. The more important component to it would be the overall potential impact it would have on the sport and the market. I’m curious to see how things will shake out going forward.

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