Venisha Henry: Qualitative Research
Shadiq Williams: Quantitative Research

Goal: adidas and Nike have been in consistent competition since 1964. With Nike coming to the forefront in 1980 and maintaining this position ever since. The goal of the project was to understand which areas adidas is underperforming in and how it could be improved. So adidas could become America’s #1 sportswear company.

Result: Through our research, we have learned adidas’ customers lack loyalty to the brand. Participants feedback shed light on adidas' failure to create meaningful connections with their customers. Our recommendation is to develop messaging that showcases adidas values, utilize Macro and Micro-influencers, and consistently incorporate their tag line “Impossible Is Nothing”.

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Understanding our audience:

Before we could dive into conducting new qualitative research, we first needed to understand, who is adidas' competition, and the current trends in the industry. According to adidas' top competitors as of 2021 were Nike, Puma, Oasis, and Under Armour and adidas’ typical United States customer is 16-24 years of age(Gen Z). Members of Generation Z, have a need for affirmation from their peers and feel brands are an extension of their identity.

Gathering Perspectives

I wanted to understand the audience’s current sentiments towards adidas so we release a survey and conducted interviews concurrently. The questions asked focused on purchasing frequency, perceived quality of adidas vs its competitors, and finally perception of Influencer collaborations.

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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

Uncovering the Problem

Looking deeper into our quantitative data, we discovered 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 staggering 85.1% (32.)  would be “Very Likely” to purchase Nike.

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When we cross-analyzed the data, we were shocked to discover 0% of people very likely to buy adidas had unfavorable stances against Nike (unlikely or very unlikely) but 19.44% of people very likely to buy Nike had unfavorable stances against adidas.

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Wanting to better understand why many of adidas’ customers are very likely to be unloyal, we look through the data for indicators. We found there was a large disparity between those who believe that adidas clearly communicates its values as 68% of participants believed adidas clearly communicates its values while 78% of participants believe Nike does. This was data was confirmed when we asked the participants to tell us the taglines of both companies 98% said that they don’t know the adidas tagline but only 12.8% said that they don’t know the Nike tagline.

68% believe adidas clearly communicates their values vs 78% for Nike

98% don’t know the adidas tagline vs Nike's 12.8%

Focusing on values

I wanted to explore this issue further so we decided to conduct a second round of interviews solely focusing on how adidas communicates its values. 

In the second round of interviews, participants explained Nike showcases their values and support more effectively and more often than adidas. Participants explained that Nike is a more vocal brand when it comes to advocating for diversity, and inclusion. While adidas isn't communicating in an impactful way. Currently adidas’ “core belief” is “Through sport, we have the power to change lives...”, but not many are aware of their initiatives.

“[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


To ensure adidas' values are being conveyed clearly I would suggest frequent campaigns that explicitly mention them, incorporating Macro and Micro influencers who represent their values and finally including their tagline "Impossible Is Nothing" consistently into their campaigns.

 During our interviews, some participants have admitted influencers may subconsciously strengthen their perceptions of brands. But there is proof that Macro influencers have helped for instance in1986 the upcoming hip-hop group Run D.M.C. wrote “My Adidas”, within the same year they sold half a million pairs of adidas. More recently with Mixer gamer Ninja, as he sold out his entire collection of customized shoes in under an hour.

It is paramount that adidas chooses Marco and Mirco influencers that demonstrate their values and use their tagline “Impossible Is Nothing”  consistently. We also have primary research this works well, when participants were asked adidas’ tagline 23 people responded “adidas is all in”. This is the result of their 2011 campaign in which they showed everyday people and celebrities training and showed cased the tagline "adidas is all in".

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