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Reebok International Ltd, which today is a part of German sports manufacturer Adidas, was first established in England as an athletic footwear producer, and in 1960 it acquired the name Reebok. On the verge of 1980 it stepped out of the boundaries of UK and became an internationally renowned brand. In Jan 2006 the corporate world witnessed the most speculated merger of world’s second and third largest sports goods manufacturer, Adidas and Reebok International Limited. Adidas had acquired Reebok to extend their international business and become an even stronger competitor to the market leader in sports manufacturing industry, Nike. However from the first year of this event it appeared to be a decline of Reebok. That’s when Adidas initiated a renovated branding strategy for the rejuvenation of Reebok’s image.
Reebok who started off positioned as a footwear brand focusing on female aerobic segment. But as the market evolved through the years the demand of traditional market wee no longer the same. There was a need of new market strategies, a new positioning for Reebok to regain its hype and success by repositioning itself to the changing trends of new generation. Today Reebok has transformed into a lifestyle brand for inner-city hip hop generation.
Reebok, particularly when acquired by Adidas, was loosing its glory that marked it in 80s and 90s. Time was changing and so the demands of market. Moreover the competitive brands of Reebok were realigning themselves with the new trends and hence were becoming prior to them for the customer. Reebok was in a strong need of becoming more functional as well as more stylish. In order to implement that, Reebok strengthen their ‘I am what I am’ campaign. It was edgy and targeted the hip hop youth, appeared American inspired, supported uniqueness and individuality in Lifestyle and sports. For the first time non-sports personalities were selected to endorse Reebok, such as Jay Z and 50 Cent.
Fitness became the new trend. People became more conscious towards fitness and health issues as we advanced in 21st century. Moreover, men, women, and youngsters- everyone seemed smitten by the flawless image of celebrities and sportsmen ruling their TV Screens, dominating major part of their daily entertainment and hence it became their priority. That’s why Reebok introduced brand extensions and marketing strategies that focused on fitness conscious segment, in order to update themselves with their market as well as competitors’ strategies.
Finally Reebok also needed a change to keep up with their innovative image and change direction because of their plummeting core markets.
Reebok’s Segmentation Today
The hot and happening market, as we entered 21st century, that became the Eye Candy of multinational as well as local companies were the youngsters; the rebellious, the fun loving, the trendy- Youth! Reebok had to reposition in order to appear more attractive to this segment as well as not lose the customer brand equity they had fostered from a long time.
Reebok diffused and aimed their vision in the athletic market as the Top Runner. Meanwhile to grip a strong association with youth market, they introduced a tier of product named as Rbk. In fact it was the success of this brand extension that Reebok decided to pay attention to its overall branding strategy.
Now Reebok is a world renowned designer, manufacturer and distributer of fitness, sports and casual shoes, clothing, accessories and equipments. They have multiple brand names like Rockport, CMM, Greg Norman, Jofa, Ralph Lauren, etc. It makes and markets athletic and lifestyle products developed on values of originality, creativity and revolution. Reebok demographic segmentation comes between ages 18 to 24. It targets Men, Women and Kids through its footwear and apparel product, like Own Women’s Fitness, Challenge in Men’s Sport, and Revive Classics. . The women in US today prefer fashion; more apparel than her footwear. Hence athletic shopping must also be stylized for them. The kids today have a strong influence of design and innovation, rather than those just leisure and sports.
It’s obvious how the distinguishing line was etched between sportswear and active wear has started to blur. The demand of athleisure footwear made its way into the market. As the cultural behavior of today’s generation evolved Reebok devised communication strategy by targeting individuals through campaigns like ‘I am what I am’, ‘Be Different, as well as challenging the status quo by ‘Overpass your life’, ‘Go above your limit’, ‘Your move’, and so on.
Distinguishing itself from competitors Reebok associated itself to the message of transforming fitness into fun. They created an image that challenged men and women to aspire to do what they desire, whether in life or sports, and provide and inspire them to stay fit. Reebok’s Run Easy also shifted the image of product from aggressive aspect of winning to the joy and fun of running. Best On/Best Off also suggested that they are providing the best clothing both on and off the sports field. These all endeavors were to regain the glory Reebok once had by changing with the trends due to globalization and competition. Research indicates that the target age (18-24) that Reebok is catering today consist of early adopters and sneaker influenced. These young adults range from fitness and style conscious to college students and juvenile professionals, both in urban and big-city markets. They have a knack for trendy and healthy lifestyle and like to work out.
Pros and Cons of Reebok’s Brand Strategy
Reebok adopted brand diversification and extension strategy, carried out consumer based marketing of its brand and in attempt of repositioning itself first time made media initiative its communication strategy through an advertiser funded Bollywood movie ‘Victory’. This step did for Reebok in one stroke what they haven’t achieved in last many years and also effectively imparted their brand image committed to both sports and lifestyle. This is just one of the examples of their multiple shots at. Reebok’s step towards repositioning and brand extension proved profitable and sustainable for them. However this approach holds both pros and cons in its execution.
It facilitates new product acceptance as well as provide feedback benefits to parent brand. It provides as a solution to raising your sales and giving the company a new direction. Multiple brands allow company to cater consumers with difference in preference, increase profitability because of the segmentation and compete strongly and widely in the market. It may also enhance the core brand image the parent brand carries.
However on the contrary, the new products may also lead to cannibalizing the sales or image of existing products of that brand. It may dilute the original brand meaning or image. Even it may happen that the brand succeeds but hurts the parent brand in many ways. It may also confuse or irritate customers. As it was a threat in Reebok’s case that it might lose customers who prefer performance over style and fashion. There may also a threat of retailer resistance. Reebok in order to remove such concerns built programs with individual separate retailers, relying on such alliances to help differentiate the brand. Many of these partnerships included exclusive rights to carry distinct Reebok products. For instance, Footlockers and Sears carry different assortments of Reebok shoes and gear.
Today Reebok is more than just aerobic shoes. They sell everything from shoes and shorts to treadmill and sunglasses. To promote these products Rebook infuses its fashions with pop culture. It’s all part of an effort to position itself as an edgy, fresh brand with products that appeal to youth. These all endeavors are to attain their goal to reach young people before they establish a substantial preference for an athletic brand. Rebook not only chose for itself the right direction but also with its consistent and innovative strategies ensure its implementation and revived them.
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