How Nike Can Best Leverage Tiger Woods’ Big Comeback Win

Tiger Woods’ win Sunday at the 2018 Tour Championship is his first victory in five years. And industry insiders believe Nike has several ways it can leverage the golf icon’s latest achievement. 

Matt Powell, senior industry advisor for sports with The NPD Group Inc., believes the Swoosh would best be served by using Woods to cultivate a new generation of golf fans.

“Nike is facing serious headwinds in terms of the game itself,” Powell said, “but they could have him devote his efforts on grassroots youth golf and do whatever he can to bring young kids in, give his time and energy to try to drive youth golf.”

But Powell doesn’t believe the impact will consume the people brands today need to attract, millennial and Gen Z shoppers, who aren’t golf diehards.

“Clearly, a lot of people watched him on TV, there was a huge crowd to witness the victory, so it gives [Nike] credibility, but it’s not with their core consumer,” Powell said. “The values of golf don’t line up with those generations.”

However, Ankur Amin, CEO of TGS (the parent company of Extra Butter, Rise, Rooted and Renarts), believe’s Woods’ story is powerful enough to resonate with young people, regardless if they love or loathe golf.

“They can get to millennial and Gen Z consumers through different angles, just having that association with Tiger, a great sports star. [Even though] they’re not driven by golf, they’re driven by success, by best-in-class,” Amin explained.

And Sam Poser, analyst with Susquehanna Financial Group LLLP, is firm that younger sports fans are still enthralled by Woods’ notoriety and accomplishments.

“How many Gen Zers are into tennis? And how big of a superstar is Serena Williams? This is about winning and attitude. Certain people transcend what they do [professionally],” Poser explained. “You have that in [someone such as] Michael Jordan, [and] that’s why he’s a $3 billion business. Tiger helps the Nike brand, it’s just another part of Nike is for winners type of thing.”

Poser also believes Nike has an ad in the making with Woods’ last win.

“Did you watch the end of the tournament? Did you see the crowd that followed him? And his sheer joy of winning — which is very different from watching him 10 years ago, when he was expecting it. It’s probably a version of the next ‘Just Do It’ ad — ‘Just do it, Tiger did it,'” he said. “People love a comeback story and Nike’s good at telling them.”

But one thing the win likely won’t impact, the experts said, is footwear sales.

“Tiger’s an iconic figure, his story is one everyone knows about, [but] in terms of footwear, I don’t remember the last time he moved the needle,” Amin said.

“I’m sure [the win] will help some, but the golf shoe business is marginal, so I don’t expect a big lift,” Powell said.

According to The NPD Group Inc.’s retail tracking service, the total U.S. athletic footwear business for the 12-month period ending August 2018 hit $20.8 billion. Of that, golf footwear accounted for $261.3 million in sales.

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