The sportswear maker is adopting the “digital newsroom” tactic after spending the last two years trying to put real-time marketing firmly into its marketing mix. The “mission control” style hubs are being launched worldwide with Adidas promising to bring “greater consistency” and “increase speeds” to its online marketing.
The sportswear maker was quick to jump on the real-time marketing bandwagon in 2012 when it first used the discipline to tap into newsworthy moments around the London Games. Adidas has gone on to refine and hone the strategy in the years since but there is little evidence to suggest it has impacted sales in the same way it has for Nike.
Adidas saw sales in Western Europe rise just 1.9 per cent in its latest quarter, while Nike saw sales jump 12 per cent over a similar period. Both are tackling product launches similarly online, however, where Adidas is at the beginning of its digital transformation, Nike is reaping the benefits of changes it made internally years ago.
The hive of this activity is Nike Digital Sport, a division the company set up in 2010. It is the home of its FuelBand fitness tracker and has been used to position digital as a strategic pillar for growth – both in building a direct relationship with consumers and by driving shopper conversions in store and online. Adidas’ is hoping to tread a similar path but it will need to commit to a wider restructure if it wants real-time conversations about the brand to have any impact on sales.
In recent years digital initiatives have been treated as side R&D projects, interesting things that companies realise they should be doing but no one can reliably attach specific sales or return-on-investment numbers to. There are now, however, enough large scale digital case studies that the tide of expectation is turning. And the recent organisational changes at Mondelez, SABMiller and Unilever to drive digital change reflect this shift.
Adidas’ response to the rise of digital penetration to date has been founded on CRM initiatives to forge direct relationships with customers and shopper marketing to nudge them to make the right purchase. It is essential that the company’s now takes advantage of the tools at its disposal to create integrated campaigns that can adapt in real-time.
Real-time marketing is the future, and the time has come for Adidas along with rest of the FMCG sector to start figuring out how it can help achieve tangible commercial objectives.