For brands, being cool is hard to do. But for sportswear brands to be successful, it’s a necessity.
Adidas, according to the president of its North American business, Mark King, is finally a cool brand. But how it got there is a lot more complicated than just signing a cultural icon and spokesperson.
“[Adidas went] from not very popular to being arguably the coolest brand in sport almost overnight,” King told Business Insider. “I think it’s really because we’re focusing on what the consumer wants.”
Adidas had a busy year in 2016. Collaborations, like its ongoing partnership with rap icon Kanye West, and a huge investment in new, trendier footwear and apparel paid off big for the brand in North America, where it leapfrogged the struggling Under Armour to become the second-largest sportswear maker in the region. Sales for the German giant were also up 30% year-over-year by the end of 2016, signaling strong growth for the company in North America.
It doesn’t hurt to have famous figures attracting attention to your brand, but according to King, the more important part of the equation is having shoes and apparel that people actually want to buy. Becoming cool is meeting customers on their level, getting the lowdown on trends as they happen, and responding to them.
“Creating something that is cool takes multiple efforts,” King said. “I think you need an athlete or a cultural icon like Kanye West or Pharrell [Williams]. But the product really needs to proceed to be cool.”