Adidas is very busy this year, having recently launched Impact Camo collection of sports gear; just-launched Crazyquick footwear; and the SpringBlade coming in August. The latter, as the name suggests, has backward-facing, wing-flap-like blades along the sole meant to give runners a kick.
Among the biggies for Adidas is another running shoe with an evolved sole called Energy Boost. Running is a tough category these days. Like the smartphone category, there's a nearly obsessive focus on differentiating technology. The competitive position for Adidas' new shoe is best-in-class return of energy after impact compressing. Adidas likes to demonstrate this with a steel ball, a square of the new material, and the engineered soles of the competitive set. It's effective because ball bounces way longer and higher on Adidas' material.
The company is backing Boost with a campaign comprising traditional, online, social and experiential around the theme "All in for the Revolution of Running" and "Boost your Run." David Baxter, Head of Sport Performance at Adidas America talks to Marketing Daily about the new shoe (MSRP $150), the market, and how the company is getting the word out.
Q: There has been an explosion of new products, technologies and philosophies in the running-shoe business, and new companies getting into the game. How do you keep the attention on Adidas?
A: We set a high bar for innovation and always aim to disrupt the industry – that is the key to winning in our business. Innovation and newness is what drives consumers into retail. Importantly, our innovations are based on athlete insights. With Boost, we understood that athletes were looking for an additional competitive advantage in running, often articulating it as the need to go further or faster to shave off those few extra seconds or minutes.
Q: Are all the new technologies in the running-shoe business a challenge or an opportunity?
A: There is huge opportunity in the running market. The global running market amounts to about 15 billion euros and running footwear accounts for about 70%. The U.S. is by far the biggest running market, accounting for about 40% of the global business. In the U.S., running is one of our key growth drivers. Running is such a large market because anyone can participate. Every athlete has different needs and desires when it comes to running shoes and that creates the large market.
Q: Will marketing visuals include [the steel ball] demonstration?
A: The focus is energy return. The marketing efforts (like the video, showing the ball drop demonstration) focus on the easy-to-understand visual of the unique material characteristics of Boost versus standard EVA cushioning. We’re focused on getting consumers to try on Boost because it is such a transformational product. Once you feel the difference on your feet, you’re hooked.
Q: How are running shoe buyers different from those in other sports? Since it's a solitary sport, is it less endorsement-driven and more about technology?
A: Innovation is what drives runners to try a new brand or product. Runners are very savvy about their shoes and understand the benefits technology can bring to their run. Boost is uniquely compelling because it combines usually contradicting performance benefits of soft and responsive cushioning and this is something we’re seeing runners embrace.