BY CARLINGTON SAMUELS
Adidas made big news in shoes on Sept. 18, announcing that the company has surpassed Jordan Brand to become the world’s second most popular sneakers behind Nike. From the outside looking in, it would appear that the famous strategy once used by Reebok -marketing their footwear though a prominent figure, Kanye West – is paying off for Adidas regardless of what some people might think.
Adidas has overtaken Jordan as the #2 brand in U.S. sport footwear. This is an achievement I never thought I would see in my lifetime.
— Matt Powell (@NPDMattPowell) September 18, 2017
“Adidas success comes largely on the back of its strong products,” said Joy Kim, a store manager at Town Shoes at Square One. “Not necessarily fr
om the celebrity endorsements it has strategized around. The collaboration with Kanye West has significantly elevated the perception of the Adidas brand yes, but most kids don’t own Yeezy products, they just own Adidas shoes.”
Last spring, Adidas launched its “largest marketing campaign in history,” that began with a series of ads running under the “Here to create label.” What was particularly interesting was that these ads didn’t feature athletes, as would be expected of an athletic footwear company.
Instead, the focus of the videos was broken into different sectors from sports to culture, with an emphasis on hip-hop. The video featured Stormzy and Desiigner. with cameos by Odd Future’s Hodgy Beats and Domo Genesis. This is interesting on two levels: Adidas’ refocused branding and the potential corporatization of hip-hop beyond music.
The focus still hasn’t changed six years later. The athletes and hip-hop artists have, but not the focus. Adidas now boasts the likes of Paul Pogba and James Harden as their front running athletes and having a roster of some of of hip-hop’s biggest names, Kanye West and company certainly helps as well.
“Two words, millennials and urban culture,” said Noah Fakih about why he thinks Adidas has overtaken Jordan. “This has been coming. Everyone is tied to urban culture is some way now and when you look and see your favourite artists in adidas from head to toe, guess what you’re going to go out and buy? I could sit here for hours and name you 100 different reason adidas is more popular right now. Their issue is simply can they maintain.”
Nike’s longtime reign atop the sports shoe and apparel industry has decreased immensely in the past few years as both Adidas and Under Armour have been clawing away at them in terms of both sales and market presence. Steph Curry’s reign with Under Armour created enough buzz to sign some of sports biggest names in the last five years.
It’s hard to predict exactly what the future will hold for Nike or whether this trend will hold. There seems to be a glimmer of hope however, with the new partnership deal with the NBA to become their official apparel provider starting this season. The new-look jerseys were debuted a month ago and that will bring the needed additional revenue stream to the brand in the next coming years.
Still, it’s clear that Nike is no longer the untouchable sports apparel juggernaut that it used to be. Fortunately for them, complacency has never really been their forte, and it’s going to take some creativity on their part if they don’t want to be dethroned by the hands of their biggest competitors.