When you think of the word “adidas,” what comes to mind? Chances are, you think of a stylish shoe company that was founded in Germany in the ‘50s and now has offices worldwide. You might also think of the adidas superstar, an iconic silhouette whose design has been a style inspiration for generations – or of adidas’s Grand Sportswear line, which launched three decades ago this year.
The athletic brand is known for its trendy sneakers and fashionable sportswear, but it also has a vast history of groundbreaking product design and innovation. The company was one of the first to ever develop a digital marketing strategy, for example.
Learn more about how adidas’ strategic approach to marketing has evolved over the years in the infographic below.
From Blogging to Social Media
Back in the ‘90s, when the internet was in its infancy, companies like adidas could only afford to have a small marketing team, let alone think about developing an online strategy. Back then, the primary form of digital communication was blogging, and companies used their blogs to establish authority and trust in their markets.
In 2013, the company started a blog – appropriately named adidas blog – to share news and the latest happenings within the organization. The blog is updated frequently and covers a range of topics, from athlete endorsements to company culture.
Despite the name, adidas isn’t exactly a “traditional” sports brand. The company is a worldwide leader in the industry, and it designs and manufactures shoes and sportswear for individuals of all sports and activity levels. Its products can be seen on the red carpet on any given week as well as in people’s daily lives. With a roster of famous faces that includes Michael Jordan, Bo Jackson, and Serena Williams, it’s no wonder that the brand resonates with people (especially millennials) around the world.
What’s more, adidas’s Grand Sportswear collection – created in collaboration with Japanese footwear company Asics – is considered one of the greatest sportswear lines of all time, and it continues to be popular even today. The collection, which includes shoes, panthers, and accessories, was first designed in the ‘70s and continues to be a fan favorite because of its innovative designs and premium materials such as full-grain leather and nylon. While most people think of Nike when it comes to sports brands, it’s actually adidas that has been responsible for many of today’s most popular sportswear brands, including Adidas, Nikes, and Puma.
From Influencer Marketing to Digital PR
Influencer marketing – the act of using influencers to promote a brand or product – is one of the most popular forms of digital marketing. With hundreds of thousands of people actively posting content about lifestyle, beauty, fashion, and food on social media platforms like Instagram and YouTube every day, brands can cheaply reach a large audience and make a lasting impression with just a few thousand words or videos.
From an athletic standpoint, adidas has been embracing influencer marketing as a way to get its name out there and drive sales. The company partnered with YouTube sensation and tennis pro Serena Williams to bring its latest sneakers to life through a series of three videos.
In the past, adidas has worked with prominent people within the sports and fitness industries to gain credibility and trust with potential customers. For example, it sponsored the “World’s Greatest Tennis Player,” Anna Kournikova, and worked with personal trainer Mark Henry to bring Henry’s approach to tennis lessons and equipment to life through a series of videos. Henry and Kournikova promoted the FitTek by adidas Home Tennis Line in a tennis-themed video featuring Henry’s expertise and Kournikova’s unrivaled beauty, which racked up over 30 million views on YouTube alone.
From Traditional Marketing to Digital PR
Back in 2015, adidas launched ReebokStyle, a blog designed to highlight the fashion choices of famous people and brands. The initiative – similar to influencer marketing – allows companies to get their products or services in the sights of fashion-conscious consumers.
The blog, which features lifestyle and fashion news from a variety of sources, often includes product drops from top brands that have collaborated with notable personalities.
Traditional marketing – the practice of getting an advertisement in a daily newspaper – is another method that companies have used to reach potential customers. However, with the rise of the digital marketing era, companies can now use modern tools to get the same reach – with the added bonus of seeing the effects of their ad campaign in real time.
Online PR simply involves getting an organization’s details in front of as many people as possible using various digital platforms – like blogging, social media, and email marketing.
From ’60s Counterculture to the Modern Marketing Machine
The history of adidas is a testament to its ability to evolve with the times and remain a relevant and powerful brand in today’s world of digital marketing. The company launched its in-house blog in 2013, and it has continued to grow rapidly ever since. This past year alone, the platform averaged over 100,000 unique visitors per month and over 300 blog posts per week.
The brand has also continued to push the boundaries of digital marketing, using innovative methods to stay ahead of the competition and reach new audiences. For example, it hired digital marketing agency Nomadics to develop a strategy to target consumers in the Middle East with Western lifestyles. The strategy, dubbed ‘Project Sunrise’, used influencer marketing to gain credibility and trust with potential customers in an incredibly competitive market. The campaign utilized popular Instagrammers in the region to show off luxury lifestyles that appealed to potential customers. The result? According to Nomadics, the strategy helped grow adidas’s Instagram following by 48% in just six months.
In another example, adidas used a combination of digital marketing and social media to raise brand awareness and drive sales for its Italian clothing store Dormeuil. The brand started an Instagram account in mid-2018 and, in a matter of months, managed to gain over 100,000 followers. This is when Dormeuil, which had previously grown its Instagram following by 30,000 in twelve months, teamed up with adidas to take advantage of the partnership’s combined 15 million followers. Together, the brand had a combined total of 25 million followers. To encourage shoppers to follow them, the brand’s Instagrammers would regularly post about new products and offers, as well as show off their luxurious lifestyles. The combination of influencer marketing and content strategy helped drive a 77% increase in conversion and an 86% rise in average order values for Dormeuil’s D2S platform – a retail store within the e-commerce site – compared to the previous year. This was all done without the aid of traditional marketing, which meant that adidas was able to keep its marketing expenses low while still seeing strong results.
How to Build an Online Marketing Strategy for Adidas
So how exactly does adidas approach digital marketing? How does it create strategies and bring them to life? How does it measure the success of different campaigns and what should marketers be doing next?
To find out, we reached out to Monika Garg, Senior Manager, Marketing and Brand Management at adidas.
“We begin by looking at the big picture, understanding the market dynamics, and finding the common trends that connect our products and services with our customers,” Garg said. “Based on that, we put together a gameplan to move forward and engage with the right people, in the right way, at the right time.
“For example, did you know that 75% of consumers researching products or services online visit websites or apps that have videos? We see a significant difference in conversion rates between those who read text only and those who read it alongside video content. So, if you happen to have a blog, why not try out a few short videos on your site to see how it fares in terms of SEO and driving traffic to your website?
To develop our strategy, we began by gathering demographic, psychographic, and digital marketing data to get a better understanding of our audience. Then, we used that information to map out key digital touchpoints, like blog posts and social media, and determined which platforms our target audience gravitates towards the most.
After that, we put together a digital marketing plan, diving into things like content creation, social media management, and search engine optimization (SEO). To begin with, we decided to launch a blog, adidas blog, to complement our existing social media platforms. Being able to publish content and see instant results gave us the push we needed to begin creating content regularly.