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JJB and Sports Direct – A Mixed Up Relationship

For those of you unlucky enough to be following me on Twitter recently, you’ll have seen that I have taken up golf. Despite having no technique or talent (as Mr James Crawford tells me all too often) I enjoy it.

As with any new sport, there’s a lot of equipment to buy. As I’m only a beginner and have my wedding coming up, I’ve been frequenting Sports Direct as it’s cheap. Today however, on the lookout for some new golf gear, I thought to try JJB; totally forgetting that JJB had been acquired by Sports Direct in October 2012.

I was greeted by this (http://www.jjbsports.com/golf):

Given I had just come from the Sports Direct page, which looked like this (http://www.sportsdirect.com/golf):

The little amount of copy on this page in particular, and the rest of the category pages is unique. There are also some other very minute changes but they are largely the same sites. Same products, same page titles (bar a few “-” for “|”), same layout and the same structure.

Although JJB and Sports Direct were once rivals, the two companies had slightly different offerings; Sports Direct supplying mostly end of the line products and JJB with a slightly more upmarket offering. This obviously helped them to target different audiences.

Although the physical stores and online branding has all been converted to the dominant company branding, their digital offerings remain on separate domains.

Despite the minimal efforts to make the websites different, in my opinion there are 2 big issues for the way they have dealt with the newly acquired brand.

1. BRAND DIFFERENTIATION

This causes an issue in terms of brand differentiation. When i went to jjbsports.com, I expected a different experience to that of Sports Direct (mainly, less big red banners). Instead I was faced with almost exactly the same website, frustrating me as a user.

Even if they sold the same products at different prices (as most big companies with multiple brands do), the experience of a more upmarket brand would justify it.

2. Website Authority

The other issue with having almost the same site on two domains, is that the authority of each site remains split, without any benefit of having 2 separate brands.

By simply redirecting the JJB website to the Sports Direct site, rather than having 2 authoritative website that rank fairly competitively in search, there could instead be one ‘super-site’ that would certainly take some beating in the SERP’s.

Conclusion

The way that JJB has been handled since the buy-out seems to have gaping holes, but maybe they are trying to keep two presences to attempt to take up more SERP real estate (dodgy Americanism). If so, I think it’s the wrong strategy.

Anyway, I have some golf trousers to buy; I just need to decide which one to buy from…

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