On Running Targets Tennis

On Running

The Swiss running brand has eyes on a new category.

What’s happening: On Running is betting on tennis to broaden its brand appeal.

Having already signed top players like Ben Shelton and Iga Świątek to its roster, the Roger Federer-backed company is perfecting its on-court shoe, with plans to add apparel.

On the upswing. Since its 2021 IPO, On has been stealing speciality running market share, leveraging omnichannel customer engagement and sustainability as differentiators.

  • In Q2 2023, North American sales jumped ~60% to $338M.
  • DTC sales increased 54.7%, while wholesale increased 51% YoY.
  • Its Onward resale program has repurposed more than 30K products, and its recyclable sneaker subscription is a hit with Gen Z.

Reputation set, the athletic shoe maker plans to evolve its web domain (from “on-running.com” to “on.com”) and reposition as a global sportswear label — starting with a swing at tennis.

Race to rally. Fueled by the game’s resurgence and parallel explosion of racket sports like pickleball and padel, tennis apparel sales have surged 38% since 2020, attracting renewed interest from activewear retailers.

Eyeing expansion, lululemon tapped 19-year-old pro Leylah Fernandez as a global ambassador in 2019, coinciding with the launch of its tennis-specific line.

Elsewhere… fashion-forward collabs, like Kith x Wilson’s co-branded designs and Lacoste x Sporty & Rich’s capsule, prove tennis club style is as cool as ever.

Tennis’ blend of performance and lifestyle makes it an ideal target for companies looking to expand into athleisure. And, with racket-sport venues ramping up, the opportunity to serve sporty-chic clientele is set to skyrocket.

Punchline: Running was its route to the mainstream, but On’s ambitions have outgrown its single-sport focus. Serving up tennis gear, the company hopes to ride the racket wave on its way to becoming a sport-agnostic lifestyle brand.

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