Why Sports & Outdoor Retailers Are Signing Influencers Who Aren’t Millionaire Athletes


Star power used to be highly coveted by brands and retailers looking for spokespeople – but recently the trend has shifted from signing mega-star athletes to seeking out influencers within the industry.

Is star power fading?

Nike is a world-renowned company, known for leveraging the power of celebrity to market their brand. They put most of their golf stock into a multimillionaire athlete, Tiger Woods – but after such a publicly covered scandal in 2009, Nike saw such a fall in their sales that as of August 2016, announced they were pulling out of the gold industry and would no longer sell gold equipment (Nike clubs were all Woods used).  While Nike continues to sponsor high profiles athletes like Cristiano Ronaldo and Kobe Bryant, other brands are learning from their mistakes and are moving more to a peer-to-peer marketing model.

The NFL has also had a long history of troubled mega-rich athletes – who could forget Michael Vick and the dog fighting scandal? Influencers in the sporting space may not have the fame or fortune, but they do have an audience and are relatable to the people who watch and play these sports.

Social media in the sporting world

Many sports lovers are congregating on Instagram and Snapchat. Sports brands of all kinds – whether they are activewear brands, sporting goods retailers, or sports equipment manufacturers – realize that industry influencers can have a significant impact on the performance of their respective marketing campaigns. Using the influence of  ‘regular’ people results in a powerful legitimacy. On social media, this is especially powerful as the both the influencer and brand can post relevant content in real time which can then be shared across several platforms, to several audiences. While major sporting brands are still catching on to this trend, extreme sports brands are busy using influencer marketing to connect with their target audiences.

Jill England

Jill England

Jill likes to share usable information with readers spanning industries such as food, travel, beauty, sports, pets, holistic health, and all things green. She's a curious and avid consumer of information of all kinds to enable continuous learning and sharing.
Jill England