Why does an under-the-radar cross-border marketplace sponsor the Los Angeles Lakers and boxing events and do advertising when an NBA superstar decides to leave the city of Toronto? Wish, the San Francisco based e-commerce marketplace, is an outlier and also a pioneer.
Wish offers consumers a marketplace that links brands and manufacturers with global consumers. Wish, previously called Context Logic, was started by Peter Szulczewski and Danny Zhang and provides consumers with access to low-cost products. The caveat is that customers can purchase the products, but delivery could take several days.
Wish invested marketing into sponsorship of the Los Angeles Lakers at a time when marketplaces did not invest into live sports. Subsequently, Alibaba and Amazon have invested significant amounts into offering their consumers with access to live sports via streaming video platforms. Wish’s sponsorship of the Lakers is a logo patch on the iconic NBA jersey. I spoke with Glenn Lehrman, Wish’s VP/Head of Communications to learn more about this exciting sponsorship. Lehrman, previously an executive at StubHub, explained that the sponsorship aimed to help Wish gain new merchants from markets such as Europe and Latin America. In 2019, the sponsorship has moved away from B2B to more of a B2C strategy as Wish can use it as a social media lever.
A global brand for a worldwide business
Wish decided to sponsor the Lakers after deciding which brands would assist the marketplace in meeting consumers globally. Consumers are no longer watching linear television, so brand advertising on traditional advertising makes little sense. Also, as Wish is a digital business, the lack of analytics from TV advertising provided another reason why sports marketing was a logical brand extension. The Lakers are an iconic brand which provided Wish with additional credibility but also the opportunity to leverage customer interest in a concentrated format. Sports is the last remaining broadcast event that is linear and has a global impact. Wish’s choice of the Lakers also aligned with their business philosophy of democratizing commerce.
Wish has also sponsored boxing (who will ever forget the mega-fightbetween Mayweather and McGregor) which goes hand-in-hand with their blue-collar approach to customer segmentation. The Lakers and boxing provide Wish with global audiences that align with their universal appeal, as these sports are global events. I ask Lehrman, whether Wish is looking for other sponsorship opportunities, and he mentions that fit and cash efficiency are essential factors when Wish looks for what is next.
Customers remember who was first
Lehrman made a fascinating comment regarding sports marketing. “Consumers remember who was first to invest sponsorship in a team or building and then will continue to call the team or facility by the name of the first sponsor.” On a worldwide scale, Wish’s deal with the Lakers can be seen similarly as Rakuten’s investment into FC Barcelona. Both the teams are iconic in different markets, yet they have enabled the sponsors to reach customers worldwide.
Currently, Wish’s US consumers can access a new tab in the app to view branded products. This tab will roll-out to the world in September and provides Wish with additional opportunity to grow its revenue. The new tab ensures that brand owners do not have to worry about their products being seen next to products such as avocado slicers. Brands can leverage Wish’s international audience as a tool to move products without negatively impacting their local market offering.
Wish continues to zigs when the e-commerce sector zags and the branded products, and accelerated shipping speeds shows that Wish is thinking long-term. Think of the campaign in which Wish helped the city of Toronto try and retain their superstar. It shows agile and creative thinking to showcase a brand in a City that was captivated the NBA free-agency market.
In using sports marketing as a brand marketing tool, Wish highlights its different culture and being willing to try different ideas to scale an e-commerce business into a cross-border behemoth.