Like its big parent company, Adidas Outdoor is taking many initiatives in the area of digitalization and sustainability, both of which were a focus at the recent OutDoor by Ispo show and the subsequent Ispo Digitize fair in Munich. The recent introduction by this business unit of the Adidas Group of a new search engine optimization system led to a 20 percent increase in visits to its website and contributed to a 30 percent increase in sales over the internet. The goal is to raise the share of e-commerce to 50 percent of sales by 2023.

Tim Janaway, the general manager of Adidas Outdoor, declined to give us any specific figures about the size of its business. However, after consulting various sources, we think that we should probably have placed it and its Five Ten sub-brand of climbing and cycling shoes among the top six or ten majors in the Rugged Outdoor Footwear Chart that we published in our last issue. We estimate that Adidas’ total sales in the outdoor sector are probably higher than €400 million, making it the world’s fifth-largest outdoor brand after The North Face, Columbia, Patagonia and Salomon.

During two conferences held in Munich, one of which was sponsored by the Compass in the show’s Retail Lounge, Janaway and officials of Adidas Outdoor discussed at length its recent initiatives in terms of marketing and product development. We feel that they should be adopted by other outdoor brands.

Members of the unit’s digital department pointed out that the use of master data on the target customers is key to winning a search on the internet. The analysis of customers’ behavior on the company’s website helps to identify the most frequently searched keywords in various languages on the website or those of Amazon and other e-tailers in order to start the customer’s journey.

Adidas’ officials proposed that brands should collaborate with retail partners in the process and use systems like Idealo to assist in the search for the right keywords. They pointed out that 42 percent of all Google searches are to get information on the nearest store where the product is available. They suggested using a maximum of special terms for functional details.

Adidas Outdoor recently organized a digital workshop with some of its key specialty retailers in Germany. It also developed a digital tool box to share the data with them. The program will be rolled out in China and other countries in the next months, following a multi-channel sales approach.

In China, Janaway told us, Adidas plans to open soon the first Adidas Terrex flagship stores in Beijing and Shanghai, addressing a young clientele, followed by stores in Seoul and Moscow next year.

Janaway indicated in a separate interview that the growth of Adidas Outdoor has been accelerating after the introduction in the past couple of years of innovative products, backed by new marketing initiatives, particularly in social media, that are intended to address younger consumers.

Janaway, who has spent 20 years with the Adidas Group after working for Nestlé and Ford, has been involved with its outdoor segment and others for the past ten years. He has been focusing on the outdoor sector after the establishment three years ago of a dedicated business unit for the more generalist Adidas Terrex brand of outdoor products and the more specific range of products previously branded only as Five Ten.

The new products include a new range of trail-running shoes that was launched this spring along with various other items that integrate Adidas’ Boost technology and its successful Parley for the Oceans message against microplastics, such as a new award-winning rainwear jacket.

Adidas Outdoor has also introduced a successful Adidas Terrex Free Hiker based on input collected in February 2018 during an expedition along the 2,500-mile Pacific Crest Trail between Mexico and Canada. The stylish and comfortable all-terrain boot is meant to be worn mainly in the city, however.

After developing the model, Adidas Outdoor’s marketing team was asked to “make this cool” for a multi-channel launch with influential retail accounts, using them as “curators” for the promotion of this and other good products by other brands.

Adidas Outdoor is trying to reap the benefits of using the Adidas brand name as a mark of performance in a sector like outdoor, where the technical elements are important as they are in SUVs, said one of the members of the marketing team at one of the conferences.

The officials said that outdoor brands must be progressive and use social networks to be connected with their communities. They must be relevant to people who are seeking out new experiences and who want to be different and better related to the world around them, they said, adding in response to a question from the audience that smaller brands have more freedom of action.