Adidas North America President Mark King Discusses Major Expansion, Brand Growth & Scandal

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Business is booming for adidas. This year they’ve jumped over the Jumpman in the US and last year they had the hottest selling shoe in the Superstar. Times are good. Still, Nike proves #1 in the game and the hoops sector has been caught in the middle of the college basketball scandal.

Recently, adidas North America President Mark King sat down with Jeff Manning of The Oregonian/OregonLive to discuss all of the above and more. Here are some highlights:

King on Product vs. Endorsement

“It’s always product first. When we look at UltraBoost, NMD, AlphaBounce, PureBoost, there’s just been some tremendous product launched in the last three or four years that have changed the trajectory of our business.”

Impact of Boost

“UltraBoost is really the one that started this increase in business we have. All the products have the Boost technology. It resonates really well with consumers, both from a performance standpoint and a fashion standpoint.”

“[Boost is] a technology we had out, I think we launched it in 2013. We believed that it was a much superior cushioning than anything else in the industry. It returned energy. It has its roots in performance running. By 2015, it had this incredible following for lifestyle. It’s a very cool looking shoe, very comfortable. Once it became a lifestyle shoe, then products that followed — NMD, PureBoost — that had boost technology became really big sellers for us. Now, we have baseball cleats, golf shoes, football cleats…”

Decline of Retro Sales

“The growth is slowing down. But retros remain a very, very popular product. There are multiple retros. Definitely Stan Smith has slowed down. The Superstar is actually selling more. It’s still our No. 1 selling shoe. I know, it’s crazy.”

College Basketball Scandal

“Here’s what we can tell you… we made this statement to most of our colleges.

1. The allegations are very serious and we take it that way. One of the things the Adidas company prides itself on is its ethics and being a good global citizen. So we take this very seriously.

2. We’ve hired our own outside group to do our own investigation. We need to find out what went wrong, who was involved. We need to fix this.

3. We are fully cooperating with the authorities. The AG, the FBI, whatever investigation is going on, we’re definitely fully cooperating. The goal is to find out what went wrong and fix it. That’s about all I can say at this time.”

Brands and Retailers Struggling in the Industry

“Success will always depend on two things: Do you make interesting new products that consumers want? And can you get it to consumers when they want it and how they want it?
The overall business was flat this year. But it was up 3-4 percent last year. The way consumers are shopping is changing. The challenge is, can you change with the market. The retailers who figure it out will win. The ones who don’t, won’t. It’s not easy. You’ve got to change the tire while the car is moving. We’ve done a really good job of that.”

“Nike is a great company, and they’re hard to compete against. They do a lot of things well. They’ve run into a tough time… But I think they’ll be fine. We say it all the time: We’d love to have their problems. They’re big and powerful.”

Message to the Industry

“We’re really happy with the progress we’ve made, but we’re not satisfied where we are. We’re at 9 percent market share, we should be at 15 percent. When we get to 15 percent of the overall market in North America, we’ll feel like we should be at 20 percent. It’s exciting, this is an exciting place to be. We’ve created a very cool place to work. A lot of that comes with success. We think we’ve done really a great job of creating an environment where people want to come. The company has received 330,000 job applications since Jan. 1. That’s just the U.S. So people want to be part of Adidas.”

“Do you get nervous that it’s going to run out of steam? Maybe when we’re at 20 percent. But we’ve got a long way to go before we get there. That’s one of the things that gets me the most optimistic.”

Read the full interview at Oregon Live

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