Marketing and Branding Strategies of Adidas

Adidas Marketing and Branding Strategies

Despite Nike’s market dominance, Adidas has continued to make its presence felt as a very strong player in sports shoes and apparel industry. Considering its performance during the last few years, Adidas has made a quite but impactful return. Its Superstar was the top selling shoe of 2016. The growing popularity of the brand has turned it into investors’ favourite. The reason cited most often in this regard is the effectiveness and success of its marketing efforts. Nike poses a tough challenge before Adidas and Under Armour. However, the German Sports brand (Adidas) still has an impressive global presence and ambitious plans for the future.

Brand that believes in sports

Adidas is a sports brand or a brand which believes in the emotion and power of sports to change lives.   The mission of Adidas is to be the best sports brand in the world. This mission is anchored in its core belief that big changes can be brought about through sports. Sports can make things possible around the world and Adidas’ mission is to help athletes at all levels make a difference. Its target market is mainly the youth. However, it connects with every person whose heart is with sports. Several of its products are popular across all the age groups. In the recent years, it has brought some major changes to its strategy. Everything Adidas does has the customer at its core. The brand is trying to create a difference and the new strategic changes could are a major step in the direction of developing a financially successful and sustainable brand.

Product range and pricing strategy

The brand serves a comprehensive product range including footwear, apparel, equipment and services. It caters to everyone interested in sports from professional athletes and elite teams to the common sports lover. The focus is on building a strong brand image and becoming the consumer’s favourite through product and design innovation. The brand uses a high/low pricing strategy. Lower promotional prices attract customers where they are also offered the regular higher priced items. However, intense competition is also a reason behind the high/low pricing. The advantage is that it enables Adidas to cater to large segment of customers. Low prices can affect the brand’s image and give rise to a perception of inferior quality. So, Adidas in general maintains high prices except for the introductory low pricing on new releases.

New three pronged marketing strategy

While Nike’s connection with basketball is deep, Adidas has focused more on soccer and golf. This has resulted in higher popularity in areas where the popularity of soccer is high like Europe and South America. However, in comparison to its competitor Nike, its appeal in North America where basketball is more popular is lower. To overcome this weakness, Adidas has embarked on a new three pronged strategy. This three pronged strategy has three pillar – speed, cities and open source. Speed is an important pillar in this strategy. Adidas has decided to be a fast sports company in the real sense – fast at dispensing products and faster at decision making. You can understand it as achieving smoother operational flow and improved decision making. This also includes a reshaping of the entire business model into a new avatar.

To grow its market share faster, Adidas has decided to focus its marketing efforts on six key cities – New York, Shanghai, Paris, Tokyo, Los Angeles and London. This plan makes sense because a large part of its target market is found in the metropolitan cities. The third pillar of its strategy focuses on the involvement of key stakeholders. As a part of its strategy, Adidas will invite more participation from customers, partners and athletes. However, its results in the recent years signal the success of its latest strategy.  Adidas’ deep connection with sports and particularly football is evident in its marketing strategy. It has been using sports personalities from various fields to promote its products and brands. The central focus of its advertising strategy is the energy of sports. To unleash it, you need something more than just your physical energy. Adidas helps you outgrow your limits and overcome the hurdles.

A Brand driven by energy

Its slogans also reflect the same energy. Unleash your creativity, Find Focus, Claim Freedom, Live without limits; these all are the themes of its promotional campaigns and slogans meant to energise and motivate athletes and sportsmen. Most of its ads and promotional campaigns are based on the themes of energy and speed. It made an entire series of videos with famous Argentinan footballer Lionel Messi called ‘Backed by Messi’ where Messi and other players shared their experiences.  Messi also promotes its Nemeziz 17 boots designed especially to bring agility and control to the game.  The whole idea behind Nemeziz 17 is to bring agility and help you maintain control during the game. In this way, Adidas promises to infuse energy in sports with its products. However, its list of ambassadors is not limited to just sports personalities. Selena Gomez joined the list in 2013 as a global style icon as part of a partnership with the Adidas neo label.

Customer connection and social media

To deepen its connection with customers and other stakeholders, Adidas remains active through the traditional channels, its own website as well as the social media. Its social media activity is particularly worth attention. It has uploaded around a thousand promotional videos on YouTube through its two channels, Adidas and Adidas football. On Facebook too, Adidas is active through three accounts. Two of them, Adidas original and Adidas football have more than 20 million followers each. The third account is related to its retail website. On Twitter too, it has several active accounts including Adidas original, Adidas U.S. and Adidas football that it uses to stay connected with its fans and followers. The core focus of all its marketing efforts is to bring energy to sports and to help the athletes achieve. However, now that it has revamped its strategy and focused its efforts on key areas, results are showing in the form of improved financial performance. While this could mean a growing competitive challenge for Nike and Under Armour, Adidas still has a long way to go to achieve its mission.

Abhijeet Pratap

Abhijeet has been blogging on educational topics and business research since 2016. He graduated with a Hons. in English literature from BRABU and an MBA from the Asia-Pacific Institute of Management, New Delhi. He likes to blog and share his knowledge and research in business management, marketing, literature and other areas with his readers.