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Wilson Sporting Goods

by Sunil Iyer

Problem and Hypothesis

In the sports equipment manufacturing business, perhaps the most important factor in selling products is brand loyalty. Companies that can draw in a customer for life successfully will get guaranteed sales periodically. This begs the question: how can a company better achieve brand loyalty among its end users? By selling products that are tailored to each specific user, the experience of the product by the user will be higher, and as such will be more likely to continue to use that manufacturer's products through life.

Roger Federer is one of Wilson's most marketable stars

Wilson Sporting Goods, now a subsidiary of Finland-based Amer Sports, produces equipment in badminton, baseball, basketball, football, racquetball, softball, soccer, squash, tennis, and volleyball; this makes them the largest sporting goods manufacturer domestically. Wilson typically markets through the sponsorship of top athletes, such as Roger Federer and Serena Williams, which encourages fans to buy similar products. However, end users will only continue to use Wilson products if they bring success. The best way Wilson can better help their users be successful in their endeavors is to best match each product with the user, which could happen if they were to tailor their products to each specific customer.

What Can Be Done?

Wilson, like most sporting goods manufacturers, would benefit greatly if they were to implement a system in which they could track its user's motion while using their equipment. This new data would allow them to see how to best match each one of their products to their users. Let us use tennis rackets as an example. If Wilson was to make some type of wearable band or watch that users could wear on their wrists, or directly implement it into their test products, then they could get lots of information from swings. This would potentially allow them to see the power, angle, spin, and direction of their shots. With this information, Wilson could properly determine whether or not that specific tennis racket is a good match for that user. If the user tends to hit weakly, perhaps a model with more loose strings would be preferred, which would boost their power. If they tend to miss balls entirely, then perhaps a larger frame would be suitable. If they are unable to swing the racket effectively, a lighter racket should be used instead.

An example wearable sensor

The same thinking could apply to many facets of their production line. For their baseball bats, a proper weight and length can be effectively judged. A big market would be in their golf equipment, which typically requires individually tailored equipment. If a simple application could be instead of professional fittings, Wilson might be able to win over more customers. These data trackers could be implemented in demo models throughout large carriers of Wilson products, and could be sold to professional clubs, coaches, or teams. With all of the data that Wilson could collect, they could go beyond more personalized marketing, and they could actually better produce new models of equipment based on the results. If they notice that a certain golf club causes users to hit the ball abnormally, they can take steps to try and correct the design. Then they could eventually roll out a better product, which would be beneficial to its end users.