Adidas, the globally famous German brand, is one of the leaders among sportswear brands. The company is engaged in the production of clothes, shoes, and accessories not only for sports but also for everyday life. Today, Adidas owns such companies as Reebok, Rockport, CCM and Taylor Made Golf. Adidas’ market share is 20 percent, while its brand value is estimated at $ 6.8 billion, with a market capitalization of $ 12.7 billion (Ryan 2016).
In other words, the company positions as a successful enterprise with a high market share and good competitive position. By sponsoring the Olympic Games, various competitions, using famous athletes to advertise and promote, the company firmly established its status as a leader in the sports world. It is one of the leading producers of professional sports products in Europe and all over the globe. The examination of digital marketing used by Adidas is essential to understand its success factors that meet the contemporary trend for the digitalization of businesses. This paper will focus on social media marketing and mobile marketing strategies, in which the company invests to remain successful.
Social media marketing (SMM) is a key element of promotion for many areas, especially in outwear and sports industries as many consumers it for inspiration. However, to attract the attention of brands, more and more often, it is necessary to think creatively to keep the target audience committed to the brand (Stephen 2016). SMM aims to gain customers’ attention to a product via social networks, primarily Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. It can be defined as a set of measures for using social media platforms as the sources for supporting firms and addressing critical business problems. The main emphasis in SMM is placed on socially significant content, which through the viral effect will be distributed on the social network by the users, without the participation of a company (Yasmin, Tasneem & Fatema 2015; Akutina, Karlova & Nikolaenko 2014).
This type of distribution is more trustworthy and, as a result, more effective in comparison with regular advertising. One can accurately determine the target audience and, in turn, increase the conversion – a positive reaction from customers.
The presence of an already well-known business in a social network is comfortable for a consumer. In such a situation, promotion in social networks is not the main source of attracting an audience, but it serves as one of the tools to expand information flows. In other words, it is an additional source of traffic to ensure greater recognition, increase trust, and, in the case of direct sales, an additional source of customers. The budget for this promotion is quite large since the whole range of media solutions is used (Song et al. 2014; Rialti et al. 2018). One of the examples includes social videos on road safety from Volkswagen groups.
The presence of information about brands and products can be disseminated in popular online video games that have their specific target audience (Hennig-Thurau, Hofacker & Bloching 2013). The use of social networks for marketing campaigns, holding actions, and dynamic interaction with clients bring useful results. The fact of such a presence on social networks is an excellent tool for increasing brand or product recognition and its further strengthening of market positions.
The recent article demonstrates some decrease in the number of people who trust marketing on social media. The article by Edelman firm shows that 60 percent of people no longer consider social networks trustworthy since the companies are not effective in managing fake news (People don’t trust social media — that’s a growing problem for businesses 2018). After numerous scandals related to social media, as well as with an increase in the number of bots and fake accounts, most users lose their credibility.
The studies indicate that more than 70 percent of respondents are not able to determine the difference between advertising and regular posts (Fisher 2016). Accordingly, more and more users of social networks trust only their friends, acquaintances, and relatives. The trend is that since 2000, there is a 75 percent increase in the social media movements that are initiated by companies. It becomes evident that new strategies to improve customer trust need to be elaborated.
Stories are one of the most rapidly developing tools of SMM, which are extensively used by Facebook and Instagram. According to Facebook product director, Chris Cox, the Stories format will continue to grow, and there are already over 400 million users that view them on Instagram every day (Lamberton & Stephen 2016). According to Hootsuite, the social media management platform studies, more than 64 percent of respondents have already implemented stories in their promotion strategy in 2018 or plan to start using them over the next year (Pham & Gammoh 2015; Maiz, Arranz & Fdez de Arroyabe 2016). The relatively short format of stories allows companies to experiment and get more benefits from interacting with customers.
Mobile marketing is based on applications, the main purpose of which is to help companies develop customer relationships. An effective application promotion strategy can contribute to the development of e-commerce, increase the effectiveness of offline events (for example, promotions in the store), and strengthen customer interaction (Alnawas & Aburub 2016; Baena 2019). Every day, people spend their time in mobile applications, making mobile devices the leading means of communication. For the convenience of customers, the general appearance and volume of content on mobile devices are simplified due to their small size (Chandel & Tewari 2015; Rowles 2017). It is also useful that since mobile devices are smaller and lighter than computers, users can shop on the go regardless of their location and environment.
Smartphones speed up shopping time and boost digital innovation, as reported by Tumbas, Berente, and vom Brocke (2017). The authors explored a range of organizations and found that there are three new leadership roles, including digital marketers, accelerators, and harmonizers. Customer engagement is one of the goals to build the digital capability of a company. Compared to last years, mobile device users prefer instant purchases directly from their smartphones (Shankar et al. 2016; Ström, Vendel & Bredican 2014). For future success, it is essential to make users plan to purchase certain products after viewing relevant advertising.
The statistics show that 2/3 of the customers who use smartphones are likely to buy from a company that has an application or a mobile version of the website, and the content is configured according to their location (An era of growth: the cross-platform report Q4 2013 2014; Fong, Fang & Luo, 2015). Market orientation is suggested by Kumar et al. (2011), who emphasized the additional benefits due to a carryover effect and effective customer retention. In turbulent and competitive market conditions, such a strategy cannot be overestimated.
Various mobile marketing tactics are worth pursuing in business, while the success of the strategy is determined by such factors as the budget, industry, and customer segment. Mobile applications allow companies to integrate advertising into mobile app design: for instance, Facebook is a great example of in-app advertising. QR codes are two-dimensional images that are scanned by the smartphone’s camera and redirect customers to a linked website, where they can see additional information about a particular product (Zhao & Balagué 2015; Baena 2016). Also, marketers often use SMS marketing to communicate with customers and promote the brand. Mobile banner advertising is the same ad as on the desktop of the computer, yet it much smaller to fit on the screen of a mobile phone (Yadav, Joshi & Rahman 2015).
All these strategies can be combined by companies, and mobile marketing automation is a way to solve repetitive marketing challenges. Modern high-quality modern tools help companies interact with their customers and subscribers in real-time.
Adidas sets a clear mission of becoming the best sports company in the world through a solid plan called “Creating the New”. The basis of this plan is composed of the idea of increasing the brand desirability by connecting and engaging with customers. Among the most useful strategic decisions taken by Adidas recently, one may identify innovation and collaboration as open-source development (Strategy 2019). To share and learn, the company attracts athletes, partners, and customers to the process of value co-creation. It is possible, for example, to mention the cooperation with Spotify allowed creating the running application that synchronizes music with the pace of a person (Friedman 2018). The dissemination of this strategy is focused on meeting customer needs and providing them with exact and demanded products.
The digital transformation is regarded by Adidas as a priority that enables relationships with customers. The company clearly understands that social media is no longer a place for mere entertainment yet a powerful platform for connecting with clients (Vizard 2019). In this connection, it strives to constantly enhance its digital marketing. The growth acceleration occurs via the standardization of systems and processes, leading to the alignment of marketing activities worldwide (Meredith 2018). Such global solutions promote faster and more efficient business, as well as the simplification of strategies. In particular, Adidas’ SMM and mobile marketing are among the key factors that drive sales and raise profitability (Vizard 2019). At the same time, the company invested significantly in research related to uncovering errors with digital advertising, which, however, did not provide essential revenues.
To understand the enthusiasm with which Adidas approaches its customers, it is important to identify its target populations. The entire target audience of Adidas can be divided into two groups. The metropolitan audience consists of 25 – 35-year-old women and men – fashionable and advanced citizens living in prestigious areas of the world. Their goal is to be unique, standing out from the crowd, which is partially achieved through clothing, shoes, and accessories. The urban audience composes 18 – 25-year-old youths, who spend money on the purchase of sports equipment to emphasize the importance of their subculture (Hennig-Thurau, Hofacker & Bloching 2013).
Social media and mobile devices are perceived by Adidas as touchpoints that are used to provide a consistent experience. By being active in Facebook and Instagram, as well as offering an intuitively-comprehensive application, Adidas tries to be everywhere with consumers and deliver multichannel and unique experience (Çiçek, Eren-Erdoğmuş & Daştan, 2017; Çiçek, Eren-Erdoğmuş & Daştan 2018). Taking into account that the mentioned audiences are technology-savvy and value user-friendliness, the effectiveness of SMM and mobile marketing becomes evident.
The review of the digital marketing strategies that are currently adopted by Adidas shows that it has a well-elaborated plan for success. First of all, the company sets clear and achievable goals since measuring results and evaluating the progress of a specific mobile marketing strategy is only possible if the campaign’s goals have been set in advance (Kumar et al. 2013). It adapts the advertising campaigns to mobile devices, which is consistent with the importance of visualization and design.
Since the goal is to promote the brand through mobile devices, Adidas creates relevant content, applications, and a website suitable for mobile use. In addition, it engages geolocation settings as one of the most effective ways to minimize the bounce rate by showing only those ads that are pertinent to the target audience. Such tools like Google Trends, GPS, and apps like Local Inventory Ads send campaigns that match the demographics of a potential customer (Killian & McManus 2015).
Adidas is quite successful in exploring the unique capabilities of mobile devices. For instance, the company creates ads that can be manipulated using various mobile phone features, which ensures a convenient and interesting interaction with customers. For example, instead of creating video ads that cannot be paused, Adidas places ads that one can stop, rewind, send, and so on, which gives customers a clearer picture of the product they observe. Most importantly, the company creates hype – the mass excitement that is based on interesting the followers. In 2014, Kanye West launched a series of products, which attracted a lot of fans to Adidas (Fong, Fang & Luo 2015).
Among other high-profile personalities that were invited, there are Stella McCartney and Pharrell Williams, who presented personal involvement in the design proves. The latter drastically distinguishes Adidas from its competitors that also work with celebrities.
Another indicator of the effectiveness with which Adidas promotes its digital marketing is giving control to customers. The recent strategy with relaunching Stan Smith, the iconic shoe made consumers feel like a part of the story. The initiative called “Stan Yourself” motivated the users to use their photos and tweet the post to have the chance to receive personalized shows from Adidas. Not only nostalgia made this initiative successful, but also a focus on emphasizing the influence of the brand on subcultures mattered (Chanavat & Desbordes 2014).
Accordingly, this example demonstrates that social media is used by the given company to build a conversation with customers rather than merely promoting their products. The live talks with high-profile persons that were streamed on Facebook are also representative of how Adidas gives its customers unique opportunities. In other words, the relationships with target audiences are built at the experiential level that may involve music, fashion, games, et cetera. Thus, there is a full range of strategic actions that Adidas designs and implements in practice to meet its mission and goals.
In conclusion, one should emphasize that Adidas is one of the most effective sports companies that invest in digital marketing and masterfully use social media and mobile marketing to connect with customers. The company’s current strategic plan, “Creating the New”, is largely focused on digital innovation and technology implementation. Among the key goals of Adidas, there is the provision of valuable experience and building relationships with customers, which are partially met through social media and mobile marketing.
In particular, social media platforms are a significant part of the company’s e-commerce that drives sales and raises profitability based on unique experience and individual approaches to consumers. In turn, mobile marketing is found as the area that helps Adidas to become with customers regardless of their location and time. The user-friendly design, adaptive application, geolocation, and other tools make it attractive and beneficial to customers.
As for future development, it is possible to recommend focusing on Instagram and the tool of stories. Successful brands like Gucci, Nike, Under Armor, and others also create their filters for this format. Although the Facebook version is not as successful as on Instagram, one can recommend that Adidas can become a pioneer in this field. The consideration of user-generated content seems to be another viable option for future marketing strategies. It refers to users that post their emotions and attitudes about Adidas’ products and exclusive events. In addition, the initiatives discussed in this paper should be continued due to their positive impact on the relations between the company and its customers.
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