Adidas is on a tear as of late — and it has a plan to keep tearing it up, too.
As of March, the German sportswear maker had nearly doubled its market share in the US, from around 6% to 11%, according to data from NPD Group. Its sales in the US grew 31% in the first quarter of this year.
That celebration was dampened a little bit, however, by the news that the trend of classics — which up until that point had driven much of the growth Adidas was seeing in North America — had plateaued.
“I think it’s the cycle slowing down. Superstars and Stan Smiths have been around a long time and they have waves that they come through,” Foot Locker CEO Dick Johnson said in an earnings call in May.
But according to Mark King, Adidas’ head of North America, one of the brand’s strengths is that it has been able to anticipate trends before they happen.
“We made a strong pivot about two years ago where we said the only way to stay up with the trends of society and the marketplace is really to listen to the consumer,” told Business Insider in May. “A lot of companies talk about it — we’re actually doing it.”
One of the fastest-growing trends in shoes right now is a category called “lifestyle running” — shoes that are much more stylish than your typical running shoe, but with a similar silhouette. You can run in them, but many people don’t.
Adidas has many celebrated styles in this category already, including the sought-after NMD and UltraBoost sneakers. As the classics trend fades out and lifestyle running takes over, these styles will likely become the brand’s best-selling shoes.
Other new products that have made a splash recently include a production of the shoes from the Wes Anderson film “The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou” and a new version of the blog favourite German Army Trainers.
Adidas is also working on improving its speed to market.
“On the style side what is really required is newness,” King said. “We need more franchises, and then we need to continue to be new and fresh … That’s really the magic: To have the right product in the right market at the right time.”
In this way, Adidas’ product always remains current and trendy, and there is much less reliance on one particular genre or style. Under Armour, for example, missed large trends like athleisure, and it doesn’t currently have any trendy shoes on the market.
Nike, and especially its Jordan brand, is running into trouble as the style has fallen out of favour. Nike is now focusing on speed to respond more quickly to changing trends, in a similar way to Adidas.