Adidas is working to fix a huge mistake it's been making for decades

Adidas has recently paled in comparison to athletic behemoth Nike and the swiftly rising Under Armour.

The Wall Street Journal reported last year that Adidas was facing a major challenge — to make the brand cool again amid falling market share.

But the company appears to have identified a way to improve its business that might be bigger than attaining the elusive goal of becoming “cool” —  selling to women.

It has taken several steps to improve its offerings to women, which have traditionally been limited.

Here’s what the German athleticwear company has done recently:

1. Hiring an executive who knows about the industry.

Who better to help a women’s sector in need than a woman who has worked with one of the most recognisable athleisure brands of all time?

Earlier this week, The Wall Street Journal reported that Adidas tapped Christine Day, former CEO of none other than Lululemon, to advise the brand.

2. Launching a subscription box specifically for women.

The subscription box, called Avenue A, contains a selection of seasonal training gear for women, curated by what Adidas is calling “fashion-forward trendsetters and trainers.” For the first box, Adidas enlisted “fitness artist” Nicole Winhoffer.

“Our brand is listening to what women truly want, and that is product designed specifically for her combined with unique, customised experiences. Avenue A helps us deliver that in one convenient and inspiring package. The best part is, this is only the beginning,” Kelly Olmstead, Senior Director of Brand Activation said in a release.

This is potentially risky; many subscription companies have come under fire for their billing practices.

3. Incorporating marketing that appeals to women.

The retailer has been specifically targeting women with its marketing schemes. It has been featuring top models like Karlie Kloss in campaigns. 

Additionally, Adidas’s latest campaign,#HereToCreate and its corresponding mini film series, brings to mind Nike’s #BetterForIt slogan. 

4. Designing new products for women

Of course, none of that marketing matters if the products do not resonate with women. To aid in that cause, Adidas has launched PureBoost X, a sneaker specifically for women for spring 2016.

“PureBoost X is a great example of the huge focus we have on the versatile female athlete,” Olmstead said in a release.

It’s been a lightbulb-over-the-head moment in the athletic wear industry, as retailers realise that women are veritable sources of sales. After all, many companies have been scrambling to win the hearts and wallets of ladies.

Earlier this year, Nike made a massive push to lure female customers with the aforementioned #BetterForIt campaign, and the push has led to a spike in sales. Recently, Nike launched a series called “Margo vs. Lily” as a part of that effort.

Under Armour’s CEO Kevin Plank has openly stated that he plans for its women’s business to usurp that of its men’s business. Should that happen, Under Armour’s women’s business would be bigger than Lululemon entirely.

Although Under Armour does not disclose revenue by gender, consulting firm Conlumino estimated that Under Armour’s business approximately splits at about $1.14 billion for women, and $2.69 billion for men, and that Lululemon’s business, though smaller, has a larger women’s sector (a estimated $1.72 billion for women and $0.33 billion for men).

Under Armour has been aggressively zeroing in on its female-targeted marketing campaigns by enlisting stars like Gisele Bundchen and Misty Copeland to empower women. The catchphrase “I will what I want” sends a powerful message to consumers.

This means that Adidas has some steep competition, and that it has to move swiftly, particularly since the brand has made several missteps over the years — such as failing to listen to American consumers’ tastes and missing out on endorsements to Nike. Right now, its saving grace is arguably Kanye West and his Yeezy line; his Yeezy 750 Boost in Triple Black were the most valuable sneakers in 2015.

Fortunately, Adidas appears to be on the up; it announced in a recent release that sales increased by 10% in 2015. 

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