- Shauna Rush
HOW PARIS SAINT GERMAIN BECAME SOCCER'S MOST FASHIONABLE CLUB
20 years ago almost nobody outside of France knew Paris Saint Germain. Despite not winning a single international trophy since then, they somehow managed to become one of the most iconic brands in world football. The biggest celebrities want to be associated with PSG and the club’s value is the fastest growing among all football teams over the past decade. This development is closely related to their cooperation with kit sponsor Nike. So here’s the story how those two shook up the kit industry and created the world’s most fashionable football club. PSG is the second-fastest growing club in the world across all sports, right behind the Golden State Warriors. They grew by almost one thousand percent over ten years and are now valued around one billion euros. Behind that astronomical figure is an investment from the middle east. Qatar Sport Investment took over PSG in 2011. They first focused on improving the squad and spent over a billion euros just for new players since they took over. Some of the most notable transfers: Cavani, Ibrahimovic and Kylian Mbappe. And of course the record breaking over 200M that they paid for Neymar. The investment woke up a sleeping giant and PSG is now able to compete with the best clubs in Europe. But it also made the club very dependent on oil money from their investors. This is a high risk for a club. FC Malaga is only one of the examples how a club can suffer when its wealthy backer suddenly loses interest. That’s why the PSG executives made a plan to become less dependent on external money and decided to invest heavily in entering new markets. An essential part of the strategy: building a global brand. A club for the culture. Football and its look is becoming more and more interlaced with street and hip hop culture. You see artists wearing football jerseys on stage, unveiling new kits for brands and even being interviewed about the trend.‘This is definitely a fashion thing’ PSG is at the heart of that development. All the cool kids are wearing PSG kits. And Parc des Princes has become a meeting point for some of the world’s biggest celebrities, who like to stop by when in Paris.
It is hard to imagine a better city to establish a club as a fashion statement. Paris is already a global capital of fashion and style. And that authenticity is very important, as pointed out by PSG’s brand manager (Fabien Allegre). He emphasized that they don’t proactively ask celebrities to wear their kit, but that ‘it has to be organic. There has to be an attachment.’ It has to be organic. There has to be an attachment. Besides famous musicians and artists, PSG also works with stars from other sports to build their brand. Steph Curry and Kevin Durant both visited and endorsed the club. But what really put PSG on the map is its collaboration with Michael Jordan and his famous Jumpman brand. Air Jordan, which is owned by PSG’s kit sponsor Nike, is one of the most iconic brands in pop culture, hip hop and American sports. What began as an insightful partnership between a player and a brand has evolved into an icon and revolutionized an industry. The Air Jordan brand today covers over 30 versions of the shoe, many of them re-released several times. The shoes frequently sell out as soon as they are available and are resold online to sneaker collectors. In 2019 Air Jordan made their first quarter with a revenue of over one billion dollars. To put that into perspective: that’s almost as much as Under Armour makes in the same time. Their fame among sneaker heads is definitely one reason for Jordan’s success. The brand made it from making basketball shoes in the beginning to a big name in fashion. In that sense, the collaboration with a club from the fashion capital Paris makes perfect sense.
The great match between the brands becomes clear when you look at the markets that PSG and Jordan target. Jordan is one of the most relevant brands in the US and thanks to its roots strongly connected to the basketball culture.And while Jordan is definitely a global brand, especially in Europe there are still target groups that are not familiar with the brand. Basketball is becoming bigger, but doesn’t get nearly the attention in Europe as football does.PSG on the other hand is very well known in Europe, obviously especially in France, one of the countries with the strongest purchasing power.That means although both brands are similar in character — both sportive and fashionable they are famous and loved by different audiences.By collaborating, they combine these audiences and cover markets that are usually far away for them individually.Jordan had already tapped into the soccer market when launching a custom shoe with Neymar, who was probably the most exciting player at that time. And plays for PSG.It was already a hint that the kit deal with PSG would not be limited to having the Jumpman logo on the kits. The collaboration goes much deeper and is exclusive for PSG.No other football club will be equipped wit Jordan kits, at least until 2021. Part of the collection are also shoes and over 70 other items.
And of course the collection is not only presented on the pitch, but on the runway of the big fashion shows. It is safe to say that the collab paid off for PSG.
The club sold over 80,000 kits just on the weekend of the launch. And it is clear where the additional sales are coming from: compared to the previous season, shirt sales in the US have grown by an incredible 470%.
And there is another market that promises similar figures in the future. If there’s one country that really buys into premium branding and luxury brands, it’s China.
And since basketball is one of the biggest sports in China, working with the Jordan brand might help PSG to get in a lead position in the competition for Chinese football fans.
The deal with Jordan also puts PSG on the map for other sponsors. They just signed a ten year and multi million euro deal with e-commerce giant Fanatics.
The company also does the merchandising for the NFL, NBA and MLB. It is likely that they have taken note of PSG in relation to their collaboration with Jordan, which caused a stir on the US market.
It can even be argued that the strong global brand of PSG increases their chances of signing top players — it is definitely a valuable soft factor when convincing stars like Neymar and Mbappe to join the club.
From a historical perspective, it will always be hard for PSG to compete with clubs like Real Madrid, Manchester United or Barcelona in terms of sales. But for a new team on the European stage.
It is impressive how fast they managed to build a club that stands out from the rest. From a pure business perspective, how the club markets themselves off the pitch is nearly as important as how they perform on the pitch.
PSG already nails the first part — the question is if the extraordinary brand and financial stability will eventually also bring the much craved for Champions League title. What’s your take on this? Nothing but hot air or the future of football.