São Paulo – Brazilian sports items brand Poker is planning to break into Qatar with its flagship product – goalkeeper gloves. Established 1986, the company started out by selling on the amateur market, like non-professional and college teams.
The year of 2006 saw Poker start investing in the pro niche. “Through strategic planning, we realized it was time to get into the pro market. More than that, we realized the goalkeeper niche was underserved,” explained director Rogério Cauduro, who’s in charge of foreign trade and marketing. Pictured are Rogério (on the right) and his brother and Poker cofounder Frêdi Cauduro.
The strategy involved calling up pro goalies for meetings and hearing out their suggestions to make high performance products. Currently, Poker supplies 40% of all pro goalkeeper gloves in Brazil, and it sponsors 12 to 14 goalkeepers in each round of the Brazilian Championship, including athletes from teams like Palmeiras, Vasco, and Grêmio. In 2019, out of 20 A-Series goalies, 14 were sponsored by the company, according to Rogério.
After becoming established nationally, the brand began to plan its international expansion three years ago. It partnered with a consulting firm out of Rio Grande do Sul and found it had major chances of success in 40 different countries – including Qatar – which are economically open, enjoy good relations with Brazil, and are football-friendly.
The brand has been registered in over 60 countries. “We did our homework before this process. We picked out a few crucial countries to begin working with, and we’re favoring South American countries for geographical reasons. But you have strategic situations, like Portugal, which is a good gateway to Europe, and Qatar, because it’s hosting the next FIFA World Cup,” the director explained.
Strategies in Qatar
In order to decide on how to approach the Arab market, Poker relies on Junior Reis, a goalkeepers’ coach who’s lived in Qatar for 20 years now. “He’s working on how best to get into the country, whether it’s retail, distribution or representation,” explained Cauduro. Reis has been with the Al Gharafa Sports Club ever since he moved to Qatar.
One possibility is for Poker to partner up directly with Reis’ team. “Our brand rollout project in the country is being created in partnership with the Al Gharafa Sports Club. Being close to the teams as sponsors is a way of effectively getting into Qatar, which is our goal,” the marketing director explained.
The brand wishes to decide on the planning by the end of 2020, so there’s time to roll out the project before the 2022 FIFA World Cup which Qatar will host. The brand and Reis believe there’s room for Poker to get into Qatar. “The supply in the country is really scarce when it comes to finding proper product,” explained Rogério. Another possibility for Poker in Qatar is to get points of sale, like outlet-type stores.
In addition to Qatar, the company is prioritizing Latin America, starting with Uruguay and Argentina. In the long run, Rogério says he might look into other Arab markets. “We’re interested in doing business with the Arab countries, but that’s not our primary focus due to the geographic aspect. But that would be very welcome provided that the interest is there,” he said.
Another goal for Poker is to go from being a go-to brand for goalkeepers to becoming a multisports brand. Out of the 10 product lines currently available, the premium ones are Goalkeepers, Balls, Functional (for gym wear and accessories), Biking and Swimming. For the latter, the company is also betting on joining forces with prominent professionals – former swimmer Gustavo Borges has already been enlisted as ambassador of the product line.
Translated by Gabriel Pomerancblum