Adidas' King Taking No-Holds-Barred Approach In Attempt To Reconnect With U.S. Consumers
Since last June when adidas Group North America President Mark King began his new job, he "has taken a no-holds-barred approach in an effort to reconnect with American consumers," according to a Q&A by Matthew Kish of the PORTLAND BUSINESS JOURNAL. King said adidas has to invest in more than just the most popular U.S. sports, listing "minor sports like volleyball and softball" as examples. King: "There was a void in our consistency in all these U.S. sports. That's the path forward. Over the past seven months we spent a lot of time getting the powers in Germany to say yes, we like that strategy, yes we want to invest in it." King last week said that adidas is moving its design HQ from Germany to the U.S. He said of how the relationship has changed between officials in Germany and those in the U.S., "The biggest thing that's changed is the mindset. From [Chair & CEO] Herbert Hainer (on down), they understand that we have to be more in tune with the U.S. consumer. There is a shared belief that we have to do things differently." Below are excerpts from the interview:
Q: How many designers will move to the U.S.?
King: It's a significant number of people moving here to be closer to the U.S. consumer, including brand messaging. What we've recognized is we need to make sure that our messaging is really sharp and directed towards the U.S. athlete.
Q: Adidas could sign 500 more athletes, including 250 in football and 250 in baseball. What's the value to having so many?
King: When a consumer goes to a sporting event we have to be visible, whether it's the NBA All-Star game, a Major League Baseball game, a football game, we've gotta be on the field of play. ... We want to have a significant number of NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball players using our stuff, then colleges, then high schools, then we'll get the kids to buy our stuff.
Q: Adidas has signed deals recently with Arizona State and Miami. Do you want more?
King: We'd like to sign as many as we can. There are limited numbers that come available. It's highly competitive.
Q: As the deals become more expensive, do you need to be more strategic about signing teams?
King: We'd like to have some in the Northwest -- I know that's a challenge -- and certainly in the Northeast.
Q: I know we can't talk about the reported Reebok bid, but what can you say about the direction of the Reebok brand? It seems to be going back to its roots as a fitness brand with the UFC and CrossFit partnerships.
King: You'll see in 2015 a brand campaign for Reebok that's going to run in the first quarter. It's a big commitment to telling people Reebok is here and this is what we stand for. We have a big product launch of the Pump shoe. We're also opening more FitHubs.
Q: What about Adidas stores?
King: We're going to open a bunch of stores, big brand concept stores. It's more about storytelling than racks of stuff at 40 percent off. By the end of 2017 we'll be pretty visible in major cities (BIZJOURNALS.com, 1/20).