The Cricket Connection: How Adidas Expanded Its Footprint in India

Adidas' Winning Strategy: Boosting Jersey Culture in India with Cricket Partnerships and Creative Consumer Engagement
Rohit Chauhan

Rohit Chauhan

Adidas, the global sportswear giant headquartered in Germany, has made significant strides in India by leveraging cricket partnerships and innovative consumer engagement. This article explores Adidas’ strategy to grow its brand presence in India, particularly through its collaboration with the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). The move has been strategic, focusing on expanding the brand’s reach in a market where cricket is not just a sport but a cultural phenomenon. This detailed exploration sheds light on how Adidas’ strategic decisions have resonated with Indian consumers, driving both sales and brand loyalty.

Strategic Partnership with BCCI

The Cricket Deal

During the annual investor call, Bjørn Gulden, CEO of Global Brands at Adidas, emphasized the importance of visibility in sports marketing. According to Gulden, the strategy involves not just major global sports but also those with regional significance. This philosophy led to Adidas signing a landmark deal with the BCCI to become the official jersey partner for India’s men’s and women’s cricket teams until 2028. This partnership, valued at around Rs 350 crore, marks a significant investment and commitment to the Indian market.

India’s cricket team, under this partnership, has sported Adidas jerseys in major tournaments such as the ICC World Test Championship and the ICC ODI World Cup. The visibility provided by these high-profile events has greatly enhanced Adidas’ brand recognition in India. Neelendra Singh, Managing Director of Adidas India, has highlighted the strategic importance of this association, noting that it keeps the brand on high alert to meet the expectations of global leadership and Indian consumers alike.

Impact on Brand Visibility

The impact of this partnership extends beyond mere visibility. It has also positioned Adidas as a premium brand associated with excellence in sports. By aligning itself with India’s cricket team, Adidas has tapped into the deep emotional connection that Indian fans have with the sport. This strategic move has not only increased brand awareness but also strengthened Adidas’ market presence, making it a preferred choice among sports enthusiasts.

Leveraging Cricket’s Massive Appeal

Acquiring New Customers

Cricket is more than just a sport in India; it is a cultural cornerstone. By partnering with the BCCI, Adidas has tapped into an enormous consumer base. Neelendra Singh emphasizes that cricket offers a platform to reach over 700 million consumers, providing an unparalleled opportunity to acquire new customers. For many of these fans, the team jersey often becomes their first Adidas product, thereby serving as a gateway to the brand.

This strategy has proven effective in not only driving sales but also in enhancing brand credibility. The emotional investment that fans have in cricket translates into brand loyalty for Adidas. The association with the Indian cricket team allows Adidas to reach a wide demographic, including young fans who may become lifelong customers.

Success of Marketing Campaigns

The partnership with BCCI has already yielded impressive results in terms of marketing and consumer engagement. Campaigns such as “3 Ka Dream” have seen unprecedented levels of engagement, making it the top video campaign for Adidas in India. The brand has also seen record sales of half a million jerseys in the last year, a milestone that underscores the success of its marketing strategies and the high quality of its products.

These campaigns have not only driven sales but also significantly enhanced brand visibility. Adidas’ share of search metrics has been steadily increasing since the second quarter of the last fiscal year, reaching an all-time high. This increase in digital visibility is a testament to the effectiveness of Adidas’ strategic marketing initiatives, reinforcing its position as a leading sportswear brand in India.

Understanding Consumer Behavior

Evolving Sportswear Culture

The sportswear market in India is evolving, with consumers increasingly adopting sportswear as part of their everyday lifestyle. This shift is driven by a growing awareness of fitness and health, as well as a cultural change towards valuing sports and athleticism. Neelendra Singh notes that sportswear in India is transitioning from mere utility to a lifestyle choice, mirroring trends seen in Western markets.

For a sports brand like Adidas to succeed in this evolving market, it must offer products that are not only functional but also stylish. The brand’s three-tier pricing strategy is a testament to this approach. By offering fan jerseys at an accessible price point of Rs 999, Adidas has made its products available to a broader audience. This strategy has been instrumental in encouraging consumers to opt for authentic Adidas products over counterfeit ones, thereby enhancing brand loyalty and market penetration.

Distribution and Accessibility

Accessibility is a key component of Adidas’ strategy in India. The brand has implemented innovative distribution methods to ensure that its products are available to consumers wherever they are. During major tournaments, Adidas has made jerseys available through a variety of channels, including quick-commerce platforms like Blinkit, its own app and website, major e-commerce sites like Myntra, Flipkart, and Amazon, as well as physical locations such as store lobbies, mobile vans, and stadiums.

This multi-channel distribution approach has allowed Adidas to reach consumers efficiently and effectively, ensuring that fans can easily purchase their favourite team’s jerseys. The success of this strategy is evident in the high sales figures and the widespread availability of Adidas products, which have become synonymous with quality and style in the Indian market.

Expanding Beyond Cricket

Embracing Football and Other Sports

While cricket remains a major focus for Adidas in India, the brand also has a strong presence in football and other sports. Adidas is renowned globally as a leading football brand, and this reputation is beginning to translate into increased demand for football-related merchandise in India. With upcoming events like the European Championship, Copa America, and the Olympics, Adidas expects to see record sales of football jerseys in the Indian market.

The brand’s success in football provides a complementary boost to its cricket initiatives, helping to broaden its appeal among Indian consumers. Adidas’ association with major football teams and events enhances its credibility and attracts a diverse consumer base that is passionate about multiple sports.

Growth in Running and Fashion

Running has become increasingly popular in India, driven by a greater focus on health and fitness. The organized marathon ecosystem has grown significantly, encouraging more people to take up running as a regular activity. This trend has boosted the demand for high-quality running gear, and Adidas has been at the forefront of meeting this demand with its innovative products.

In addition to sportswear, Adidas’ fashion label, Adidas Originals, has seen significant growth in India. The global sneaker culture, epitomized by the popularity of the Samba series, has quickly gained traction among Indian consumers. The rapid adoption of global fashion trends in India has contributed to the success of Adidas Originals, making it a key growth area for the brand.

Insights from Global Leadership

India’s Market Potential

Adidas’ global leadership views India as a market with immense potential. The country’s growing consumer base, combined with its increasing achievements in international sports competitions, has made it a focal point for Adidas’ strategic investments. The brand’s leadership is excited about the opportunities that India presents, particularly in terms of expanding its consumer base and driving long-term growth.

The Indian market is characterized by a dynamic and aspirational consumer base that is becoming more engaged in sports and fitness. This shift, coupled with India’s economic stability and technological advancements, makes it an attractive market for Adidas. The brand’s strategic initiatives are aimed at tapping into this potential, ensuring sustained growth and success in the region.

Strategic Investments

Adidas’ commitment to the Indian market is evident in its strategic investments. The brand has established a sourcing office in India, with nearly two-thirds of its locally sold products being manufactured within the country. This not only supports local industry but also ensures that Adidas can meet the specific needs of Indian consumers.

Additionally, Adidas has set up a global tech hub in India, employing 1,100 engineers who contribute to the brand’s global innovation efforts. The recent relocation of Adidas’ Global Business Services (GBS) to Chennai further underscores the importance of India in the brand’s global strategy. These investments reflect Adidas’ long-term commitment to the Indian market, highlighting its focus on both revenue generation and talent development.

Addressing Challenges

Tackling the Knock-off Market

The prevalence of counterfeit products is a significant challenge in the Indian market. Adidas has addressed this issue by making authentic fan jerseys more accessible and affordable. By offering these jerseys at a price point of Rs 999, Adidas has reduced the price gap between genuine and fake products. This strategy has encouraged consumers to choose authentic Adidas jerseys, thereby enhancing brand loyalty and reducing the demand for counterfeit goods.

Balancing Revenue and Market Expansion

While offering lower-priced products might seem to risk lowering the average revenue per user, Adidas prioritizes expanding its total addressable market. The brand’s strategy focuses on acquiring new customers and building long-term relationships. By attracting new consumers with affordable entry-level products, Adidas aims to foster brand loyalty, encouraging these customers to eventually purchase higher-priced items from its portfolio.

This approach has proven effective in driving market expansion and increasing overall revenue. The focus on long-term growth rather than immediate profit maximization reflects Adidas’ strategic vision and commitment to the Indian market.

Distribution and Retail Strategies

Reaching Consumers Across India

Adidas has implemented a comprehensive distribution strategy to reach consumers across India. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the brand relied heavily on physical retail distribution. However, the pandemic accelerated the shift towards digital channels, with more than 40% of Adidas’ business now conducted online. This digital transformation has enabled Adidas to reach approximately 98% of the addressable market, ensuring widespread availability of its products.

In addition to online channels, Adidas has identified key trade zones in major cities and deployed its own retail strategies in these areas. The brand operates over 80 company-owned retail stores in prime locations, setting new benchmarks for customer experience. These stores, along with 360+ franchise stores, leverage local expertise to expand Adidas’ reach into tier-II and tier-III cities, ensuring that consumers across India have access to its products.

Conclusion

Adidas’ partnership with the BCCI and its broader strategies have significantly boosted its presence in India. The brand has successfully introduced a jersey culture, expanded its consumer base, and made strategic investments reflecting its commitment to the Indian market. As Adidas continues to raise the bar, its association with cricket and other sports will likely drive further growth and solidify its position as a leading sportswear brand in India.

Through strategic partnerships, innovative marketing campaigns, and a deep understanding of consumer behaviour, Adidas has positioned itself as a top player in the Indian sportswear market. The brand’s focus on accessibility, quality, and long-term growth ensures that it will continue to thrive in this dynamic and rapidly evolving market. As India’s sporting culture continues to grow, Adidas is well-positioned to capitalize on these opportunities, reinforcing its legacy as a global leader in sportswear.

Also Read: Alia Bhatt: The Face of Cross-Cultural Collaboration with Gucci

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