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Feb 22, 2017

Mizuno want to build a love game with tennis in the UK market

Rob Henderson, Mizuno UK marketing manager, talks to Mark Hayhurst about the brand's plans for 2017

Mizuno want to serve up a great 2017.

The brand are looking to break back into the tennis market after a long UK absence.

However, they are not looking to throw a tonne of money at advertising but are looking to grow into the market organically.

Technical excellence and a desire to wear the brand is what Rob Henderson, Mizuno UK marketing manager, holds as the way to pave the way back into the sport of tennis.

Henderson said: “Mizuno is a product-led company, not marketing led. You tend to know Mizuno through the sport you first discovered it.

“So there are a lot of people that know Mizuno through rugby because they remember when we used to sponsor the All Blacks and they grew up wearing Mizuno shoes.

“Other people might have got into it through golf.
“Our way of getting to more people is to expand that base of people that discover Mizuno. We’re in the process of doing it with netball. We now sponsor the England Netball team for footwear and three Super League teams.”

And tennis is next on the hit-list for Mizuno, who want to establish a new core market.

Henderson added: “We have to get some elite level players understanding who we are and wearing the brand and it then filters down to the level below. Once we have got some sort of credibility in that market then we can start doing stuff with the clubs and then hopefully people will start asking retailers for our shoes. It’s only when we are at that stage where we have built that demand from players that we can really start to approach the retailers.”

During the qualifying rounds of the recent Australian Open Mizuno had a 20 per cent share of players using their shoes. Henderson believes that their commitment to innovation will see people turn to Mizuno.

He said: “We had the first sports scientific laboratory in 1938. We have got this heritage of really making good shoes which makes my job easier.

“We have players like Marcus Baghdatis, the Cypriot tennis player, who is just outside the top 30. He has been playing tennis for 30-odd years and he says it is the best pair of shoes he has ever worn.

“They are finding they are really good and that comes down to the technologies we have that are built around a wave plate which works in harmony with the human foot.

“That’s what makes our shoes so lightweight, cushioned and flexible.”

Mizuno have nine players in the top 100 at the moment and Henderson is hoping that at some stage they will have a good run in competitions to grow the brand. They are also looking at the emerging talent in the UK.

Henderson added: We have a contract with Marcus Willis who has had a few good runs in Wimbledon etc. We will then work at Marcus’ club and then with some of the other players in the UK that are up and coming.
“Planning ahead were taking on agents that will work at club level and forge links between the tennis community, the clubs and local retailers.

“We don’t take it for a given that any second we are going to turn up at retailers’ doors and say here are some tennis shoes are you going to buy them? We want to create the demand, we want to give them incremental sales rather than just switching somebody’s market share.

“We want to drive people to their door.”

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