Looking to continue to expand its baseball business, New Balance has added Francisco Lindor, one of the game’s brightest young stars.
This is a real question, not an analysis. Baseball viewership is in decline. Attendance is in decline. It is still the national pasttime and a great night out for a family, but baseball players wear cleats and that is a small business. Is it considerable enough for New Balance to pursue relationships with athletes? Obviously, but what does the brand gain by adding Lindor?
He’s a great young player with marketing potential, but outside of fanatics, does anyone in social media know who he is? He only has 80,000 followers on Twitter and his social reach is not very big.
I always have a grasp on business decisions, but on this one I’m a bit lost. I guess you could ask the same question about almost any endorser signed to a brand who isn’t a superstar, but I honestly don’t get how or why this will propel New Balance. Here is a quote that kind of helps me:
It was just seven years ago that New Balance, the privately owned running shoe brand, committed considerable resources to baseball, believing it could win business in cleats. Today, New Balance is the best-selling premium-cleat baseball brand across sporting-good retailers in the number of shoes sold and in total sales, according to the NPD Group.
But continuing to sign the latest and greatest is important, as Hilvert acknowledges the intense competition in the space. Youth tends to be the theme. Mike Trout has had three Nike signature cleats produced by the age of 25. Bryce Harper, who is 24, got his first signature cleat from Under Armour this year. Adidas signed Kris Bryant to the largest shoe deal in baseball history before he won NL Rookie of the Year in 2015, and they also signed Carlos Correa after he won AL Rookie of the Year that same year.
With television down so far on baseball and the cleats being a niche market, why does it matter?