Nike buyout means Canstar marketing boost

Nike is poised to use its proven expertise in marketing and distribution to make Montreal-based Canstar Sports a major international player.Last month, Oregon-based Nike acquired 46% of Canstar. Purchase of the remaining shares will be completed in March.At that point, Donna...

Nike is poised to use its proven expertise in marketing and distribution to make Montreal-based Canstar Sports a major international player.

Last month, Oregon-based Nike acquired 46% of Canstar. Purchase of the remaining shares will be completed in March.

At that point, Donna Gibbs, director of corporate communications for Nike, says there will be some synergies between the two companies, particularly in the areas of marketing and distribution.

Canstar will continue to run unchanged as a separate division of Nike.

‘One of the primary attractions of Canstar is that it is a strong, profitable, well-managed company,’ Gibbs says.

‘At this point, we don’t anticipate making any changes in the organization,’ she says.

According to Gibbs, another plus was Canstar’s recently opened production facility in the Czech Republic, which will be a major factor in furthering growth of its brands in Europe.

The companies are a good fit since Nike and Canstar are recognized globally as authentic athletic brands.

Canstar, the category leader in Canada, makes and markets hockey, ice skating and inline skating products around the world under brand names that include Cooper, Bauer, Lang, Daoust, Micra and Mega.

70 per cent

Seventy per cent of National Hockey League players use Canstar products, and 34 players endorse Canstar brands.

John Collins, vice-president of sales and marketing for Canstar, says the company is looking forward to working with Nike.

‘From a marketing perspective, they’re light years ahead of most companies, and, in sporting goods, they’re definitely No. 1,’ Collins says.

‘Certainly, with the vision and expertise that Nike has from an advertising and positioning standpoint, particularly for image, they’re going to take the hockey category to a new level,’ he says.

‘I think everyone associated with the sport is going to enjoy some tremendous spinoff from that.’

Canstar’s greatest growth market right now is the u.s., where hockey has become popular.

New U.S. brands

While that provides a major opportunity for Canstar, Collins says the company is now up against new u.s. brands that have entered the market to satisfy consumer demand.

Worldwide, Canstar is the single largest supplier of hockey equipment, but Collins concedes there is always room for growth.

Growth that can be fostered by new owner Nike.

Nike does not make its own sports shoes, but is known around the world for its marketing efforts, specifically the ‘Just Do It’ campaign created by Wieden & Kennedy of Portland, Ore., which features National Basketball Association players.

Nike’s annual advertising spending is about US$140 million.

Beyond hockey, Canstar’s inline skate brands would provide a great entree and challenge for Nike in a market that is still largely untapped.

Collins says the market potential for inline skates is much broader than for hockey products.

Inline skates can be positioned for fun, fitness and recreation, as well as dry land training for hockey players.

In addition, the demographics of the inline market also has a heavier female mix.

A spring campaign for inline products is in the planning stages at Canstar agency Vickers & Benson Advertising to be ready by the beginning of March. PS