Adidas' Plan to Resurrect Reebok
Reebok is trying to carve out a new place in an athleisure-driven sportswear market by prioritising women and embracing style. A resurgence of 1990s fashion trends is helping.
During the late 1980's and early 1990's, the American footwear brand was a cultural and commercial force: Jane Fonda wore Freestyles in her aerobics tapes and Michael Chang won the French Open in Pumps. Now one of the hottest '80s fitness brands is banking on female Crossfitters to be its saving grace.
The company, a subsidiary of Adidas since 2005, has a plan to aggressively go after female consumers, a demographic that its competitors have struggled to reach.
Reebok dropped its sports-licensing apparel deals and shifted its NHL and NBA deals over to its parent brand, Adidas. It completely stopped producing team sports apparel to align with its new mission, forcing it to leave money on the table in some markets.
Reebok has been busy working to fill the gaps with fitness-minded outfits like UFX, Spartan Race, and Les Mills, and focused on building a fitness-centric lifestyle brand. The new deals, while they might not seem like it at first, are geared primarily at the female consumer, a demographic that Reebok sees as a huge opportunity.
Reebok president, Matt O'Toole says "The insight for our female consumer isn't that she wants to do it softer than the guys want to do it. Our goal isn't to out-Lululemon Lululemon. This isn't just to give her the softer side of fitness."
While Adidas' sales and brand perception have surged in the US, with net sales up 33%, Reebok hasn't seen its star rise quite as quickly. It instead saw a 16% decline over the same period in North America.
Adidas, for it's part, has stood by Reebok as it transitions, still believing in the strategic position of the brand.
"We're one company with two brands and they have different roles to play," O'Toole said. "Adidas is focused on their mission to be the best sports brand. We are focused on our mission to be the best fitness brand."