Adidas was falling behind. Research showed that shoe shoppers were clearly spending more time on their phones, but that’s not how Adidas was spending its money. Global sneaker blogs and social influencers were now driving the buzz around new products. The shopping experience was changing, with sneaker heads more likely to scoop up limited-edition shoes online than wait outside of a brick-and-mortar store.
How can Adidas remain relevant in this brave new world?
Adidas tapped into the interest in influencers by creating a spot featuring dozens of the biggest global stars in sports and pop culture, like Lionel Messi, Von Miller and Alexander Wang. The straightforward spot features the stars around a big table talking about music, fashion and sports, without the special effects sizzle you typically see in shoe spots.
The spot targeted those born between 1995 and 2007 (aka, iGeneration) by giving voice to some of the defining aspects of that generation, including:
“Those who are obsessed with progress…” Younger consumers are more likely to want brands they purchase to support social causes. Ninety percent of consumers are more likely to trust brands that back social causes, according to research by Cone. This percentage rises with younger consumers.
“It’s not about border, gender or race.” This generation will be more diverse and fluid about their gender than previous generations.
“We are all creators.” Younger consumers are much more likely to want to be entrepreneurs. They have grown up with digital tools to foster creativity.
That was the easy part. The more difficult challenge was for an iconic brand like Adidas to move its resources into mobile. Adidas focused on creating a seamless shoe shopping experience by launching a new app. The brand worked with Google to discover that consumers receiving both brand and e-commerce messages were more likely to convert to purchase. A test that exposed consumers to an inspiring video about running was followed up with an e-commerce message driving to the website to purchase. This test saw a 75X rise in effectiveness in conversion rates.
Adidas has now rolled this strategy out across all products. E-commerce was up 39 percent in the third quarter in 2017 and is the company’s fastest-growing channel in all regions.
Change the game.
What they told AdAge:
“Each person featured in this campaign is a true creator in his or her own right and has shaped the industry in some way or another,” said Ryan Morlan, Adidas global director of brand communication. “We wanted to bring this notable group of creators together to inspire others to think differently in their game, life and world.”
Lessons to be learned:
- Moving to mobile is a big change. — Adidas North American Brand Director Simon Atkins wrote, “I’ve been involved in marketing since 1994, and the way our world has changed in the last two to three years is more dramatic that I’ve ever seen. It’s going to be uncomfortable for you and your team…The whole marketing textbook has shifted.”
- Let the consumer lead. — Brands no longer set the trends. Smart brands work to deeply understand consumers and figure out how to play a role in their lives. For Adidas, one way was tapping into the rising creator culture and adding to the conversation. Another way was to help create a better experience when buying shoes on mobile.
Create a consistent voice. — Only 2 percent of Adidas customers were consistently receiving both brand and e-commerce messages. By coordinating the sequence of messages, Adidas saw a spike in conversion rates.