At the end of a product cycle, a company needs to get the products to the target customer. To do this, the company has to adopt some marketing strategies. Marketing strategies are required for both service and goods businesses.
Sporting has moved from a recreational activity and has become a professional career for different people. Companies manufacturing sporting equipments ranging from clothes, shoes, and other equipments need to market their products effectively. Despite the market for the industry increasing, there are international companies in the industry that adopt different marketing strategies for their success. Such companies include Adidas and Nike; both companies operate internationally but they adopt different marketing strategies. Though the companies are rivals in the business, they find themselves facing the same competitor with the strongest one as Puma and Reebok (Reid & Plank 2004).
This paper gives a comparative analysis of marketing communications strategies and mix for athletic shoe brands; it will focus on Adidas and Nike.
Adidas is a German based sporting apparel manufacturing company. It operates as a group of Adidas group.
Other than sporting gears, the company produces other products put on by human beings like bags, watches, and swimming gears. The success of the company can be attributing to robust marketing strategy that has led to a strong brand name. The company was started in 1948 by Adolf “Adi” Dassler.
Since then it has grown to an international multi-billion company. It was registered as a company according to Germany company laws in 1949. It is located at Herzogenaurach, Germany (Adidas Corporate Website 2010).
Nike is the world’s leading sporting apparel manufacturer. It’s situated in Beaverton, Oregon. According to its financial reports released in 2008, the company had managed to employ over 30,000 employees distributed in different parts of the world.
The idea for establishing the company was in 1964. The company’s founders are Bill Bowerman and Philip Knight. They had named the company as Blue Ribbon Sports but changed its name to Nike, Inc in 1978. The company has diversified to different countries and has managed to develop a strong brand name (Nike Official Website 2010).
This is a marketing strategy that incorporates different marketing strategies to have one strategy that can effectively fight their competitors. Both Nike and Adidas use this kind of strategy however, the way each company undertakes them creates the difference. A communication strategy addresses the following areas
This is the use of mass media to market for a company’s product. The method has a strong point in that it gets access to a large population making it relatively cheap method of advertising.
The method faces a problem of choosing the right approach that will cover all ages, culture, and beliefs that the media is able to access at a go. The media used include television, Radios, and online internet Medias like those that you tube. Nike uses different personalities in the sporting arena to advertise for the products.
The strategy that the company uses is one that utilises current players who have good reputation, for example, it use golf player Tiger woods. Other than modern electronic media, advertising as a communication strategy has been using print media like newspaper. The display also takes different forms; it can be found on benches, buses sign boards among other places. The advertising campaigns are made to fit the target market. Target market may include sporting personality and the general population who can put on the apparels for different occasions. The adverts are placed on the most likely places that the target market is likely to be at any one time, for example, in sporting grounds, bus stage, along roads, and in supermarkets. Adidas uses advertising to create awareness of its products in the market. It divides its products according to their use, for example, in the case of football apparels; the company uses personalities in soccer industry.
On the other hand, it gives some of its products to young village teams to use them in competitions. The approach is a “T-shit advertisement mechanism” where T-shirts are made with the brand name of the company to ensure that there is increased awareness. The company also paints some public and private vehicles with their products brand name for advertising. Signboards are placed at different parts of the city to create awareness (Sadler 2003).
As population expectation changes, the marketing strategies adopted by both Nike and Adidas have evolved from traditional ways of selling to customer-company relationship. Traditionally, sales were aimed at creating awareness of existence of a product in the market. However, functions of sales have increased to develop a company-customer relationship. Customer loyalty and building a strong brand name are the advanced objectives of sales. The method is an expensive one where companies have to get contact with target customer and sells to them directly. The method has a strong point in that it creates a fast customer loyalty and can lead to most sales. Nike uses this method at a corporate level.
This is where it approaches sporting clubs and seeks for contacts to work with them. The company can negotiate to be given a chance to supply the club with sporting attire during the period of the competition. It aims at realising the needs of customers. When the customers’ needs have been realised the company does not stop at that but continues to strengthen the relationship.
There are established customers (loyal customers) and an assumption should not be made that they will remain loyal, but they should be visited. In the visit, general things are discussed in line with the business. Although the reason for the visit is actually to keep truck and sell, it should not be seen on the face. Adidas involves itself in personal selling where it engages its high-ranking managers and sales executives in this duty.
Big potential companies like World Sporting Associations and countries are approached by the top management. They may offer to give some shoes to players in these countries for the good of the company, for example, in 1998 football world cup, the company offered shoes to Brazil, a team that was participating in the world cup. This created an increased market for the company. Associating with the winners is another move that the company have used as a form of personal adverting (Doyle 2006).
Having good public relation with the target market creates an increased business for a company. This is through adopting mechanisms that focus on improving such relations. These include producing goods in a way that the society feels fit, for example, having production mechanisms, which pollute minimal green house gasses. Nike has a number of corporate social responsibilities (CSR).
Corporate social responsibility is a term often used in reference to the concept of organizational responsibility as applied to business organizations and the larger environment they operate in The Nike has Nike Foundation, which invests in girl child education. When the programs are being implemented, the participants put on Nike shoes. Adidas has increased its internal processes through green supply chain management. This ensures that the company’s internal production emit minimal pollutants to the environment.
This includes creating and distributing increasing value for all the stakeholders and supporting community welfare initiatives in education, health, and the physical environment. Adidas now feel that they must meet the “Triple p” bottom line expressing the expectations of stakeholders with respect to the firm’s contribution to profit, planet, and people. The company can be said to respect the need to conduct business ethically; it values its customers and the society in general. When a company develops good relations with customers, there is customer loyalty created. Customer loyalty means that customers are more willing to buy and associate with the company. Both the companies have been able to create strong brand name from the relation they hold with the general public (Mowen 2004).
Direct marketing is when the sales people approach potential customers and offer their products. Under this method, the customer and the sales representatives develop strong relations, which can result to a high customer loyalty. The customer gets a chance to express his feelings towards the products of the marketing company. Though the method offers a good platform of making loyal customers, it is an expensive method that requires interpersonal skill over and above social skills in the marketer.
Nike being an international company may not be able to sell using this method focusing individuals but it focuses a group of people who have something in common. For example, it can approach a team coach to persuade him buy the company’s products. Though the approach is the same and has the same underlying mechanism, it embraces opinion leaders (the role of opinion leader is played by the one or few individuals approached). There are individuals who are stars in various spots that are sponsored to use Nike shoes, for example, in English premier league the company have targeted Didier Drogba, Christiano Ronaldo, and Wayne Rooney. Drogba is the captain of the National team of Ivory Coast and this influence is expected to the entire team. Other than in Ivory Coast, he is the number one choice striker for Chelsea.
He even doubles as the top scorer of 2009 English premier league. Such a move is strategic and the influence of such a person is high. Christiano Ronaldo is another influential player that the company has targeted. He was voted as the best player in 2008/2009 premier league. He also was the top scorer in 2008/2009.
He is also in the starting team of Portugal national team. Such a move is likely to have high influence on supporters and funs of Ronaldo. Rooney is a Manchester united Player who have a large following. When he is sponsored to use Nike shoes, the company is attributing his success to the brand name of the company. The influence that he is likely to cause is high. Adidas is not left behind in using the method. Its sales representatives in different countries are expected to establish potential markets and target those people who can influence for purchase of the products.
For example, it may persuade the country hosting a certain tournament like the ministry of sports in a certain country. If there is a potential market that sales representatives are not able to target at their level, they may call the head office for assistance. Adidas is the sponsors of shoes won by Blackburn Rovers, the team has a large number of supporters and thus, when the team is using the company’s products it is a form of advertising (Hooley & Saunders 1993).
Televisions adverts are other forms of advertisements that are used by Nike and Adidas. T.V. advertisement can be classified in to international and local TV stations. The period that the adverts will be aired is the time that people are expected to be watching. For example before a football match, in between news, and after/before a certain program that is a favourite to many. When they are aired, they tend to attribute success to the company’s products. Shoes are personal clothing and thus when the companies are advertising for them they tend to associate success of a prominent people with them.
They may be aired when winning a certain medal, for example, Adidas used Samuel Wanjiru, Boston Marathon gold medallist and record holder, to advertise their shoes. Such a sportsman has a large following all over the world and thus when used for advertising the products are likely to capture the attention of a large group of people. In 2009, Nike had sponsored Tiger Woods, the world best golf player to be using the company’s shoes.
This was in the move to persuade a great number of golf players and supporters to use the products.
Search engines are other marketing strategies adopted by the two shoes companies. This is created from the angle of thinking that the customer knows what he want. In this marketing strategy, the user looks at what he thinks fits him. The work of the marketer or the advertisers is to ensure that when the customer is searching, he will see the products that he is selling. Some of these soft wares are Google and Yahoo search. When the user opens these sites, the image of the company’s product say Nike may pop in.
There is the use of key words in the technology that is adapted him. What the customer will need to do is just key in a word of search and he can get the required information. The customer can search for a relevant area and facilitate a personalized kind of marketing.
The personalized means of marketing gives the customer feels at free will to control what he will consume. For example, when the potential customer keys the word sporting shoes, then the search engine brings an option with the company’s name. This marketing strategy is taking preference in this era of technology (Earl 1996).
Currently, there are a number of social networks, which the companies are using to dispense certain information to the people. Such networks include Face-book and twitter. Nike has enrolled its company with face-book and Twitter where it can share information across the world. Adidas on the other hand has enrolled into both of them and when a customer requests for friendship, the machine automatically accepts him.
Certain information is given as updates in the social networks and users can get their queries solved over them. This aims at creating a human face with the market where they can interact with the company easily. One does not have to call to get assisted on a certain issue. Through the sites, one can buy or put an order and it will be affected over the internet (Anctil 2008).
Primary methods of collecting data will be employed to achieve exhaustive study. The methods to be used are:
Interviewing is a method of primary data collection where the researcher uses structured or unstructured questions to get information. In this Nike and Adidas case, interview questions will be guided by semi-structured questionnaires. Sportsmen who are near and reachable will undergo a face-to-face interview but those who are unreachable will be called.
Fans will also be interviewed on what influences their choice of shoes. Focus will be given on Nike and Adidas shoes only. Selection of Interviewees will be done using a Multi-stage Cluster Sampling method from fans of different teams in the premier league, FA, and local teams.
This is a form of primary data, which gets data after a certain group with similar characteristics motivated to discuss a certain issue. The population will be divided into cluster groups and focus groups created; the researcher will be the leader of all focus groups.
The groups will be formed of at least ten people who will be facilitated to discuss why they prefer certain shoe and not the other. The leader will focus the group to discuss Nike and Adidas shoes. The discussions will be tape recorded for interpolation and analysis. The compositions will be men and women but emphasis will be on people of the same age group (an age difference of five years will be appropriate) and if possible same social status. There will be twenty focus groups in total. Since focus groups are members of the general population and sports men with certain similar characters, the discussions will be general but interventions made to ensure that in-depth information is derived.
The researcher will take more focus on local and international sporting activities.
As a method of primary data collection, the researcher will be watching DSTV and learn on which teams are using either Nike or Adidas products. After they have been known, the researcher will discuss with supporters of the teams on their choice of shoes. This will help to analyse if they are affected by the marketing strategies adopted by the companies.
Nike and Adidas are international sports shoes making companies that have been successful in the business through adopting of appropriate marketing tools. Companies manufacture sporting equipments ranging from clothes, shoes and other equipments need to market their products effectively. Despite the market for the industry increasing, there are international companies in the industry that adopt different marketing strategies for their success. They use integrated marketing strategy to market their goods.
This is a marketing strategy that incorporates different marketing strategies to have one strategy that can effectively fight their competitors. It integrates advertising, public relation, direct marketing and personal selling. When using the strategies, the companies use T.V set, Radio, and social networks as their tools of communicating to the target customers.
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