As European sportswear leader Adidas AG (ADDYY) pulls through with a surprise revival, U.S. rival Nike Inc. (NKE) struggles to maintain momentum at home. While the German apparel and footwear maker sees its shares hover near a record high, the world’s largest sportswear company, Nike, has seen its stock slip since posting earnings last month.
Although Beaverton, Ore.-based Nike still holds a 45% share of the American athletic shoe market, its momentum has significantly slowed. Adidas, on the other hand, saw sneaker sales soar 80% last year, becoming the fastest-growing brand in the U.S.
While in the past, Adidas didn’t stand a chance against the swoosh, recent celebrity collaborations, including one with Kanye West, along with highly successfully new UltraBoost running sneakers and revivals of classics such as Stan Smiths and Superstars, have positioned Adidas in a close race beside its US competitor. (See also: UBS on Nike: Will ‘Get Darker Before the Dawn’.)
Adidas: ‘Authentic Connection’ Separates Brand
In a recent interview, Adidas’ Senior VP of Global Brand Strategy Arthur Hoeld told GQ magazine that the company is “more authentically connected to culture” than its competitors, noting collaborations dating back to the ’80s with artists and fashion designers including Stella McCartney and Run-DMC. Hoeld also highlighted Adidas’ new leadership, which he says emphasizes a consumer-centered strategy, alongside a commitment to innovation.
A Google report released earlier this year ranked Nike as the only apparel or shoe company in the top 10 list of coolest brands for Gen Z and Millennials in America, while Baltimore-based Under Armour Inc. (UAA) was shown to lag behind Adidas. Another recent report from Piper Jaffray suggests that Adidas is the leading “new brand” sported by men in America, noting that the German company has reached record highs in U.S. footwear preference, while its apparel ranking has climbed from 10th place to fifth place. (See also: Sergio Garcia, Adidas Are Having a Very Good Year.)