President and CEO of the adidas Brand
What unpredictable factor most impacted how you managed your brand in the past decade?
The speed of change in how people are connected around the world, how they share information; that was a true revolution in the marketplace. I would say that it even started a little earlier than in the last decade, but it has truly forced every brand to adjust, not only react, and try to anticipate, read, and interpret trends before they actually became big.
Consumers these days are interconnected. Trends that rise today in one area of the world can spread within days, hours, even minutes, into the rest of the world. Before this development started, we had kind of an easy job. Exchange between markets was limited, and a bit slow. So, we were able to build the brand slightly differently in different markets, based on local consumer needs and the distribution landscape. Today, differences in how your brand is perceived and valued by the consumer are fully transparent, which forces brands to build a consistent picture of the brand in consumers’ minds globally, driven by clear values and brand propositions.
"Authenticity plays a vital role...It builds trust and credibility with the consumer and provides the basis for identification with your brand, and it must never be jeopardized."
This all has a daily effect on us: which products we offer where, which messages we want to send (and using which media), and how we drive interaction as a two-way communication between our consumers and our brand. It even has an effect on our sports marketing approach, influencing which assets (teams, athletes, federations) we take under contract where, as what were previously only locally or regionally relevant assets now have global appeal. And not to forget, our focus on social and environmental affairs and socially and ecologically conscious behavior has never been bigger.
Consumers today define personally how they perceive our brand, and they have the tools in their hands to share that with the world. Facebook, YouTube, Twitter: Easy connectivity is available 24/7 everywhere. So it also means that part of the control over your brand is handed over to the consumers now, and it requires confidence to let go and trust that the strengths of the brand and what it stands for will multiply in the process.
What points can you share from your experiences that contribute in building a successful brand?
The first and most critical element is to define values that make the brand stand out and define the guardrails for everything you do and don’t do under the name of your brand. We have a clearly defined brand mission, vision, and values. Authenticity plays a vital role here. It is not only one of our brand values, but it also describes how every activity we do has to fit into that clearly defined frame of mission, vision, and values. It builds trust and credibility with the consumer and provides the basis for identification with your brand, and it must never be jeopardized.
Brand building happens at every touchpoint with the consumer. That doesn’t only mean the product or a campaign or how our stores look. It goes far beyond that. It includes the support that we provide to our retail partners, fitting to their needs, the personal service for our athletes, and the interaction of our store sales staff in every single moment with the consumer walking through the door, the mindset and motivation of every single employee in our different country organizations as well as our headquarters.
"We feel a huge responsibility to seriously commit to [social and environmental] causes, which eventually and indirectly will add to the credibility of our brand in the marketplace."
However, the core of it still is the product. Without a high-quality product with a fair price, either for sport or for wearing it on the street, a brand cannot sustain its appeal. Every single product needs to embody and breathe our brand.
Beyond that, how we behave in areas like social and environmental affairs is a key element of brand building. We always strive to engage with many big and small contributions, e.g., by bringing together Palestinian and Israeli kids in the Middle East for basketball camps, fostering a healthy lifestyle with grassroots events, working with our sports marketing partners to join forces, providing safe and fair labor conditions to the workers also in our partners’ factories producing our product, or supporting a variety of local initiatives to improve the lives and perspectives of people. We feel a huge responsibility to seriously commit to these causes, which eventually and indirectly will add to the credibility of our brand in the marketplace.
Can you provide us with insight on how you have managed to successfully balance a diverse portfolio of brands?
Our founder, Adi Dassler, started almost 90 years ago by making shoes tailored for the needs of athletes for their respective sports. Still today, we strive to provide the best products for athletes for a huge variety of sports, under the umbrella of our Sport Performance division. However, we have extended our offer in recent years beyond the pure athletic use.
Adidas Originals was launched roughly 10 years ago with a collection of mostly retro items, and has since then grown into one of the strongest lifestyle brands in the industry, generating over EUR €,1.5 billion in sales. Back then, it was unthinkable to extend a pure sports brand into the lifestyle area, and we have proven that our approach is working. We have even entered the fashion area by launching the Y-3 collection in collaboration with Yohji Yamamoto in 2002. And recently, we have introduced adidas SLVR, a new label that extends our fashion-inspired modern sportswear offer.
Our ambition is to have the strongest, most diversified portfolio of labels under the roof of the adidas brand, as long as we feel that any brand extension is true to the values of our brand.
Erich Stamminger is President of the adidas brand and is a member of the adidas Group’s Executive Board.
Stamminger, 52, was appointed to the Executive Board in 1997. Since January 2000, Stamminger has served the company as board member responsible for global marketing. In January 2004, he assumed additional responsibility for adidas in North America as President and CEO of adidas America, Inc., and, in 2006, assumed his current role as President of the adidas brand globally. Under Stamminger’s leadership, the adidas brand has achieved several years of consecutive double-digit growth and continues to move from strength to strength.
Stamminger began his career at adidas in 1983 as Head of Market Research for adidas Germany. In 1991, he became Marketing Director and, in 1994, Managing Director of adidas Germany. He then moved into a regional role as Senior Vice President, Region Europe, Africa, Middle East in 1996. In 1998, Region Asia was added to his area of responsibility.
Stamminger was born in Rügland, Germany and has a degree in business studies.