Marketing strategies

Marketing Strategy of Adidas – The Largest European Sportswear Manufacturer

The marketing strategy of Adidas is what makes the company stand out among its peers. Aside from American rival Nike, no other company has its tentacles extended as deep as Adidas in the world of Sportswear production.

Adidas was started by Adolf Dassler in his mother’s house. He was joined by his elder brother Rudolf in 1924 under the name Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. The company that started in a laundry room had conquered the world.

A quick look into the company:
Earnings:$23.64 billion (2020)
Founded:August 18, 1949
Founder:Adolf Dassler
Net Worth:$16.48 billion (2020)
CEO:Kasper Rorsted (2016–present)

This article will give you an insight into how the company had managed to ward off its competitors and what has been the marketing strategy. We shall also see Adida’s competitive advantage and Adidas branding strategy.

The Adidas Group has four brands in its strong portfolio – Reebok, Adidas, Rockport & Taylor made meant for different segment customer groups.

Let’s get started.

1. Collaboration

Adidas always concentrated on powerful endorsement contracts with some powerful non-athlete superstars like Kanye West and Pharrell Williams and managed to very well capitalize on these names by promoting them left right and center. You must have surely heard of Yeezy’s and Adidas Pharell William sneakers, these were the major reasons for Adidas resurgence.

Adidas yeezey

This Marketing strategy of Adidas worked so well for the brand that its competitors like Puma followed the same suite and signed-in famous personalities include popstar Rihanna for their line of sportswear.

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2. Limiting supply marketing strategy of Adidas

Popular Adidas shoe models such as the Stan Smith and Superstar have been major contributors to Adidas’ massive revival over the past few years. Adidas actually limits the availability of these popular shoes so that the demand for these shoe increases which in turn increases the prices.

With high demand and low supply the prices always go high  – a simple economics rule we all studied in school but Adidas applied it in their growing years.

This kind of move, which has already worked well for Adidas in the past, has the potential to help Adidas’ merchandise margins, which have already been significantly expanding recently.

However, the decision to limit the supply of some sneakers may also be a proactive move to offer excessive discounting of Adidas’ other products.

3. Sponsorships

In order to associate itself with the community, the company has sponsored many world sport events such as FIFA, UEFA, NBA, Cricket & Olympics.

Adidas is also the official ball sponsor of FIFA and UEFA. Apart from these the company also sponsors a number of domestic leagues including the Subroto Cup in India.

4. Storytelling – a unique marketing strategy of Adidas

Emotion drives action, and anyone knows that we, as humans, are actually pretty emotional. This means that clever brands can leverage that emotion and use it to drive sales. By combining an idea with an emotion, customers can draw connections between brands, and their feelings, beliefs or ideas.

At the forefront of such storytelling, we have Adidas. It is one of the most successful brands when it comes to using it as a marketing concept.

Using their own story, as well as the story of others that are connected to them, you’ll find that the primary focus of Adidas’ approach to marketing is in fact storytelling.

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The Royal Tenenbaums

When you look back, you can think of the 2001 movie The Royal Tenenbaums, which has a star-studded cast, and they’re all kitted out in Adidas tracksuits, even for occasions that can be only described as absurd.

Ben Stiller’s character, as well as his twin sons, wore red Adidas tracksuits in the film, only to change them for black ones at a funeral towards the end.

Adidas Marketing Strategy

This might look like basic product placement, but it is actually a stepping stone in Adidas’ story, when the brand actually became a landmark of a generation, thus establishing the cool factor that we still know and love.

Impossible is Nothing

The Impossible is Nothing campaign of 2007 is something that many people remember, and you’ll find that people are still talking about it, even though it was more than a decade ago. It was so successful because the stories it told were real, authentic, and they actually made an impression on the people who saw it.

The Lionel Messi Adidas advertisement was the basis of the Adidas ads campaign, and it spoke of the battle that he faced with growth hormones, serving as a reminder that even bad things may sometimes lead to positive outcomes.

5. Speed of manufacturing

The purpose of the manufacturing process is to deliver the most innovative and personalized running shoes for every athlete. What is also important is the speed of manufacturing. So that the brand can always meet the high consumer demand.

Hence high-speed manufacturing is one of the essential parts of Adidas’ digital marketing strategy. They digitized the production process with 3D printing technology and robotics at Speedfactory in Ansbach. Futurecraft 4D shoes that crafted with light and oxygen are one successful example of the brand’s advanced technology.

6. Social media marketing strategy of Adidas

Adidas has active Facebook and Youtube channels where it uploads thousands of promotional videos for its products. On Twitter too, the brand has several accounts active including Adidas original, Adidas US, 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 help athletes achieve. Media has been the focus of attention for the brand when it comes to interact and connect with the customers. This is the Adidas digital marketing strategy.

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7. Calling all creators

Calling All Creators is a campaign where Adidas opens its doors and calls all the creative personalities including athletes, consumers, and partners to learn, create, share, and shape future sports and sports culture.

Parley For the Ocean cooperation is a part of that initiative which includes producing 3 new UltraBoost models from plastic waste from the sea.

Some quick facts of Adidas

  • Second largest sportswear manufacturer worldwide
  • Europe’s largest sportswear manufacturer
  • Accounts for 6% of the US sportswear market
  • Accounts for 10% of the US footwear market
  • Owns 1,190 stores worldwide
  • Boasts of 59,533 employees
  • Produced 448 million footwears in 2019
  • Produced 558 million apparels in 2019
  • The athletic shoe company with the highest American customer satisfaction index score in 2019  (Source: Statista)

Final words

Even if Adidas has a strong competitor, they’re trying to be the best sporting goods company in the world and they have no intention to give up the game. Using digital, technology, speedy manufacturing processes, innovation, and collaborations the brand is getting closer to catch the world’s number one. Having a clear mission and a strong plan to make it happen is what is the Adidas competitive advantage.


Thanks for reading. What do you think is the Adidas’ competitive advantage? Share your views in the section below.

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