Adidas Cases-Study

Venisha Henry: Qualitative Research
Shadiq Williams: Quantitative Research

adidas has consistently struggled to surpass its leading competitor, Nike. Our team wanted to discover how they could become #1.

Through our research, we have learned that adidas is failing to create meaningful connections with their customers. We recommend  developing consistent messaging using smaller influencers. to create memorable messages.

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Secondary Research

The Current Market

Before we could dive into conducting new qualitative research, we first needed to understand, who adidas' competition was, and the current trends in the industry.  
We discover adidas' top competitors were Nike, Puma, Oasis and Under Armour. During COVID-19 the Athleisure wear market share was expected to raise to 108.7 billion dollars by the end of 2025. As consumers work from home they were making the switch from Office wear to the more comfortable option of athleisure wear.


Typical Consumers

adidas customers were typically 16-24 years of age in the US are 42 percentage points more likely than the average US consumer to have purchased Adidas products in the previous year. They also need for affirmation from peers, feel brands are seen as a signifier of identity.



2 rounds of interviews + Online Survey

  • Round 1 → General perceptions and preferences

  • Round 2 → Following up on findings from the survey


Initial Focus

Our survey was formed based on some responses from early interviews to find out if any perspectives were purely anecdotal or possibly part of a broader perspective.

We sought to gain more clarity on shopping habits and perspective of popular athleisure brands.

  • Frequency and method of shopping

  • Importance of comfort

  • Attitudes towards competing brands

  • Influencer collaborations

  • Brand Awareness

  • Non-athleisure brand preferences



As we conducted our interviews we quickly discovered, many of our participants highly valued comfort, and quality when they considered purchasing athleisure products.


“With Nike, everything is comfortable even down to the smallest items ….and they are durable”

- The Hooper

“Nike is just dependable”

- The Hypebeast

*To protect the identities of our participants we have renamed them based on their personalities. 


The RUN DMC tracksuit and shell toes are often the first piece of clothing our participants envision but  research revealed that our participants found the tracksuits did not fit their style preferences and the shoes being uncomfortable. This issue poses a major threat to the perception the brand.


“They have to be worn with jeans or ‘with the whole Run DMC [Tracksuit]…  that’s not really my type”

- The Hypebeast

“My brother gifted me some adidas … They weren’t every day sneakers. I feel like I had to wear certain clothes in order to wear those sneakers, they were adidas shell tops.”

- The Hooper

“I think about Shell Toes, You know the RUN DMC song, and the tracksuit”

- The Hypebeast

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117 Participants

Ages 18 to 36+

87 Men

28 Women

1 Non-binary

1 Gender Fluid

54.7% United States

38.5% United Kingdom

6.8% Other Countries



91.4% said comfort is important to them when purchasing athleisure apparel

92.3% said they would purchase Nike

75.2% said they would be likely to purchase Adidas


Unroyal customers

Looking deeper into this statistic we discovered another finding regarding loyalty to adidas and Nike. adidas customers are not as loyal as Nike’s.

Of the 72 participants who said they were “very likely” to purchase Nike only 41.6% (29)  would be “Very Likely” to purchase adidas.
Of the 35 participants who said they were “very likely” to purchase adidas a staggaering 85.1% (32.)  would be “Very Likely” to purchase Nike. 

0% of people very likely to buy adidas had unfavorable stances against Nike (unlikely or very unlikely); 5% were neutral
19.44% of people very likely to buy Nike had unfavorable stances against Adidas;



While we already knew that the end goal of this project was to propose a communications solution for adidas, we wanted to figure out exactly need to be communicated.

After asking so many questions about it, we comfortably concluded that adidas products are not necessarily the problem because they received good reviews regardless of brand loyalty.


98% said that they don’t know the adidas tagline

12.8% said that they don’t know the Nike tagline



Another finding was that there is a greater divide between those who believe that adidas clearly communicates their values 

Although most of our participants believed adidas and Nike clearly communicated their values. We conducted a second round of interviews to understand where they could improve.

 “This led us to our proposed communications solution for adidas”


“[Nike] is more widely recognized for not just sports but also their social messaging … Everyone remembers that Nike advertisement, especially Colin Kaepernick … that was a big thing that still is a big thing”

- The Researcher


Examples of consistent and meaning communication

  • Nike’s line “Just Do It” is about following your convictions, no matter what anybody else says and Nike wanted to prove that this core belief still had the power to inspire.

  • It told the stories of iconic athletes such as NFL player Colin Kaepernick in a film that illustrated the unique barriers each person had to overcome.

  • As a result, Nike’s stock price rose to an all-time high and the campaign created $6 billion in brand value, making it the most successful campaign in the brand’s history.

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Improvements to be made

“Smaller” scale, more meaningful collabs with influencers who people identify with.

Drill in the belief of “changing the world through sport”.

Use their tagline “Impossible is Nothing” more frequently


But will people care?

The majority of the survey participants stated that they aren’t persuaded by influencer collaborations, but through interviews, some have admitted that it may subconsciously strengthen their perceptions of brands.

When asked adidas tagline 23 people responded adidas is all in. This is the result their 2011 campaign in which they showed everyday people and celebrities training and showed cased the tagline "adidas is all in".