Decathlon: Is The Rebranding Enough?

or not?

Remember that time you needed the perfect piece of equipment for a new workout routine, but didn't want to break the bank?

Decathlon might have been the answer.

But this French sporting goods giant is more than just affordable gear; they're building a global community that celebrates the joy of movement, regardless of skill level.

How did they get here?

Decathlon’s Rise

Decathlon's story started in 1976, not with a bang, but with a vision. Michel Leclercq, the founder, believed everyone deserves access to quality sporting goods at fair prices. This philosophy laid the foundation for Decathlon's unique approach: design, manufacture, and retail under one roof. This allowed them to control production costs and offer competitive prices, making sports more accessible.

Fast forward to today:

  • Decathlon boasts over 1,700 stores in 60+ countries.

  • Their in-house brands, like Kipsta (football) and Quechua (hiking), offer a wide range of products for virtually every sport imaginable.

  • They've ventured into fitness apparel and accessories.

All of this solidifies their position as a one-stop shop for all things active.

A New Chapter: Decathlon's Modern Rebrand

In a move to modernize their image and solidify their position as a leader in accessible sports, Decathlon unveiled a new logo and visual identity earlier this month.

"Decathlon has always been for everybody; a sportsmaker, misunderstood as a retailer," says Emma Barratt, global ECD at Wolff Olins. "A democratizing influence in sport, fast becoming a leader in circularity. But above all, its aim is to simply bring fun, joy and wonder to people of all levels and abilities. We have honored this with the new brand and identity, which is an open invitation for all to move in their own way."

Wolff Olins is the branding agency that led the rebrand for Decathlon.

This rebrand signals Decathlon's commitment to staying relevant and engaging with a new generation of athletes. They also launched a brand film with the tagline ‘Ready to Play’ to announce the rebrand.

Conquering the World (Except One Market):

Decathlon's global expansion has been impressive, but one market has remained a persistent challenge: the United States. Their initial foray in the late 1990s proved unsuccessful for multiple reasons:

  • Competition: The US market is already saturated with established sporting goods giants like Nike, Adidas, and Under Armour.

  • Cultural Differences: Americans tend to value brand name recognition more than affordability. Decathlon's "own brand" strategy didn't resonate as well.

  • Logistics: Managing a complex supply chain across the Atlantic proved difficult.

Learning and Re-strategizing:

Decathlon hasn't given up on the US dream. They're currently testing the waters with a more localized approach:

  • Pop-up stores: These temporary locations allow Decathlon to gauge market interest in specific areas.

  • E-commerce: Decathlon has launched a robust online store for the US market, offering a wider selection of their products.

  • Partnerships: Decathlon is exploring partnerships with local sporting goods retailers to potentially gain a foothold in the market.

Building Community (and Sales) with Influencers

While Decathlon's US entry remains a work in progress, their influencer marketing strategy is a shining light across their global operations. They understand the power of influencers as a popular way to market athletic brands and products.

Interestingly, in March 2024, Decathlon USA did an interesting campaign + competition featuring their in-house social manager turned content creator where she spoke about women who’ve inspired her in the outdoors.

Neatly tying back to their recent rebrand.

What do you think? Could influencers, both in-house and external be useful for Decathlon to conquer the US market, or is there more to the challenge?

Share your thoughts with us! Head over to our YouTube channel to see how brands like Decathlon can find the perfect influencer partners.

The episode of Influencer Matchmaking where we discuss this in detail is coming soon. ;)

That’s it for this week! We’ll be back with another story next Tuesday. 👋🏼

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