After kicking off its “Be More Human” campaign in January to focus more on fitness rather than team sports and individual athletes, the Adidas-owned brand wants to change historic brand perceptions by targeting what it calls the “fit generation” – 25-to-35-year-olds who work out at least four times a week in group settings.
Chris Froio, vice president of Reebok Western Europe, told Marketing Week that the brand is looking to overcome the two excuses people use when avoiding getting fit – time and money.
“We want to introduce the most fun and engaging aspects of fitness so that people break down that barrier and excuse,” he said, adding that the brand is also looking to its partnerships with CrossFit, Spartan Race, Les Mills and UFC in order to reach these consumers.
Engaging with consumers through fitness partnerships
Reebok is five years into to its decade long sponsorship as the exclusive provider of footwear, apparel and accessories for CrossFit. This also includes its role as the title sponsor of the Reebok CrossFit Games, which are currently underway in Los Angeles.
Frojo says the partnership has exceeded the brand’s “wildest dreams as far as popularity and consumption with the consumer” and has allowed it to engage with the global CrossFit community through “heavy retail, social and digital” activity.
“Our first big partnership which defined what we mean by a new age of fitness was CrossFit,” Froio said. “It’s actually been one of the key reasons why our other partnerships have come to us – they see that business model, how engaged we are and how we become part of the community.”
He added that the partnership has allowed Reebok to change the way it builds products for specific purposes and needs. “We’ve become much more focused and better at it,” he said.
Making social a priority
Thanks to its work with CrossFit, its role as exclusive partner of mud obstacle course Spartan Race, its sponsorship of group fitness classes Les Mills and its latest combat training partnership with UFC, Reebok will sponsor over 150 fitness events across Western Europe in 2015 according to Froio. He said that social and digital are becoming top priorities in engaging these consumers.
“We’re able to bring communities of people together and introduce them to the brand at the event then connect with them digitally and socially to keep the conversation going,” he said.
“We are not looking at the traditional above the line spend that is heavily driven by TV because we don’t think we can break through with the clutter that’s on there and the time and energy that the consumer has,” he added. “We’re going directly to the consumer and the best way we’re doing it is through our events.”
Growth out of Western Europe
The new strategy appears to be paying off, with the brand seeing eight consecutive quarters of growth globally. This momentum is “heavily driven out of Western Europe” according to Froio, who hopes to double to business in the region over the next four years.
The brand saw its sales grow by 9% in the first quarter of its financial year, crediting double-digits sales increases in its training and studio categories for the success.
Froio added that “Be More Human” was the brand’s most successful campaign in 10 years based on “impressions, excitement, engagement through social and digital as well as the sell through of our brand at retail”.
Reebok’s e-commerce platforms are also “exploding” according to Froio, who said that Western Europe’s online sales will overtake the US e-commerce business for the first time due to “heavy investment and engagement with the consumer directly at events which is building a longer term relationship with them”.
He added that 85% of the brand’s products are currently grounded in fitness compared to 30% three years ago when Reebok looked to specific sports in different countries.
He concluded: “We firmly believe that as we go forward we’re well positioned to be able to show the consumer and the trade this new face of the Reebok brand.”