Daily Insights

Foot Locker’s Pandemic Playbook

By: Alizah Asif Farooqi | Feb 16, 2021

Though it may not seem like it on the surface, the global sporting goods market is in a crisis. About 40% of people are less active than before the pandemic, while 30% are more so. As such, the specialty retail sector has been forced to tread cautiously in the face of uncertainty due to COVID-19, which has completely altered the “normal” shopping experience.

Foot Locker has been focused on influencer partnerships and collaborations with local celebrities in the basketball arena for years, but when the pandemic hit, it pivoted priorities through a new campaign called Collaboraid. The campaign saw the brand team up with different youth culture designers to create unique products and donate proceeds (and products) to nonprofits. Foot Locker also rolled out a series of digital court projections with basketball-inspired art this year, partnering with digital artists and basketball influencers like Filayyyy and Brittney Elena to celebrate basketball culture minus the crowds during the pandemic.

The emphasis on dialing up digital strategy and doing good is more than just a pandemic defense mechanism at this point, it’s an expectation. Not only do consumers expect to be met wherever they are, they also expect brands to take action on social issues. As such, brands that tailored search strategies to shifting consumer needs saw significant increases in site traffic from search, according to Gartner’s Digital IQ Index: Specialty Retail. Still, remaining true to your roots is as important as evolving with your audience for any industry player, Foot Locker included. For example, targeting consumers where they are, such as watching highlights of basketball games instead of watching the full game. Additionally, leaning into consumer sentiments around the pandemic, Black Lives Matter movement, and more social issues can foster both relevance and connection.

By sticking with its original basketball game plan, but modifying its reach strategy, Foot Locker has the opportunity to actually make the most of the effects of the pandemic and foster an even larger audience that can live on even after the crisis concludes. Brands looking to stay in the game should consider these tactics in their next team huddle.