Fanatics Japan: Enlivening Asian Sports Market through Digitalization
Business Development Director
Digital technology is enabling unprecedented development opportunities in the sports sector, with the potential to bring fans closer together through creative and personalized experiences. To maximize this opportunity, an innovative approach that can streamline people, processes, and technology to bring forth the amalgamation of technology in the sports field is the way forward. Speaking of an individual who has dedicated his years of workmanship and passion towards sports to bridge the gap between sports fans and preeminent sports partners is Keigo Uhira, Business Development Director of Fanatics Japan. A value-driven leader, Keigo Uhira is on a mission to re-energize the Asian sports market through innovative products and service deliverability.
Keigo’s enthusiasm and love for sports have always motivated him to spearhead Fanatics Japan’s operational success. Keigo spent his childhood in the United States, where he became a fan of all of the country's major sports. As a result, this sheer passion for different sports motivated him to harness the needed skill sets to cater to the stakeholders involved in the world of sports through digital intervention. Taking Keigo Uhira's achievements into consideration, CEO Insights Asia engaged in an exclusive conversation with him, let’s read.
Give a brief account of your professional journey
I started my journey as a strategic consultant for McKinsey & Company in its Tokyo office, where I gained an immense understanding of how a business operates. Thereafter, I moved on to another strategic consulting firm that specialized in the sports industry. Following that, I joined Fanatics Japan in 2018.
Shed light on the positioning of Fanatics today
Fanatics has been leveraging long-standing, often exclusive relationships with more than 900 sports properties and a database of more than 80 million consumers worldwide. Our partners include all of the major sports leagues in the United States, and we are also rapidly expanding throughout Europe and Japan.
Towards the end of 2022, we signed a comprehensive long-term global partnership deal
with Nike and the Yomiuri Giants, the most successful Japanese baseball team in history. The new exclusive partnership between the three organizations sees Fanatics exclusively operate the e-Commerce and physical retail business for the Yomiuri Giants. As part of the partnership, Nike has become the official uniform supplier of the Yomiuri Giants, while Fanatics manufactures and distributes onfield uniforms and player performance items, as well as additional Nike-branded fan jerseys and apparel that are sold both online and at physical retail locations.
The Yomiuri Giants have become the first individual club in global sport to adopt this model, which is already fully operationalized and proven successful for all parties in similar partnerships between Nike and Fanatics with major professional leagues and Universities in the US.
Over the last 12 years, Fanatics has witnessed rapid growth in the United States. We can define it as an organization composed of highly qualified and motivated professionals dedicated to amplifying fans' pride and forging ties with their teams. Further, with an aim of building a leading global digital sports platform, Fanatics brings a whole gamut of offerings including e-Commerce and licensed merchandise, physical and digital trading cards and collectibles, and online sports betting and iGaming.
What are the factors you take into account when developing effective strategies that enhance the company’s operations?
I'm in charge of business development in Japan, where Fanatics has grown fivefold since its inception in 2018. Our company has grown organically, and we have developed our reputation through word of mouth. So, our business development comprises primarily three things: developing trusting relationships, presenting a compelling proposal, and finally delivering on the same. What is your formula for dealing with the complexities of changes in strategy for the company?
Fanatics has been leveraging longstanding, often exclusive relationships with more than 900 sports properties & a database of more than 80 million consumers worldwide
Keigo Uhira , Business Development Director
I'm grateful to my mentors at McKinsey for teaching me how to generate value for your clients and the market, as well as how to develop long-lasting enterprises. I am a firm believer in meritocracy. As a result, I require results or positive output from my staff. To promote a good working culture among employees, I focus on driving transparency and empathy at the same time.
What is the future destination you are heading towards?
I'm committed to making Fanatics a more profitable business over the next five years. We intend to broaden our presence beyond Asian countries and appeal to sports enthusiasts while delivering value for our sporting partners across the globe.
Keigo Uhira, Business Development Director
Keigo is the Business Development Director of Fanatics Japan, a leading global digital sports platform that offers e-Commerce and licensed merchandise, physical and digital trading cards and collectibles, and online sports betting and iGaming. In his free time, Keigo enjoys playing golf, watching various sports, and eating sushi and yakiniku. He is also a fan of the manga and anime series 'Slam Dunk' and enjoys traveling to Kyoto.