Aishwarya Ramesh
Marketing

"If I have the best product offering in the market, marketing to e-commerce is not a concern": Sharad Singla, Director, Brand Marketing, Adidas India

We interviewed Singla about marketing challenges in an e-commerce era and maintaining consistency in his marketing communications.

At a time when companies are looking at investing in digital, Adidas is putting its weight behind offline concepts like Creator's Collective - a platform that aims to allow individuals to express their creativity. The offline platform gathers creators in Adidas stores to familiarize them with doodling, beatboxing and jewellery making.

"If I have the best product offering in the market, marketing to e-commerce is not a concern": Sharad Singla, Director, Brand Marketing, Adidas India

Sharad Singla

afaqs! interviewed Sharad Singla, director, brand marketing - Adidas India and spoke to him about the challenges of marketing in India, about Ranveer Singh's love for the brand and of e-commerce as a game-changer.

"If I have the best product offering in the market, marketing to e-commerce is not a concern": Sharad Singla, Director, Brand Marketing, Adidas India

Ranveer Singh for adidas Originals
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When asked what his biggest marketing challenge was, he replied, "I don't see India as a country that's actively involved in sports, which means marketing a sports brand is a challenge. However, in the last 2-3 years consumers are becoming more aware and self-conscious about health. How am I, as a brand, able to communicate sport as a way of life? If I am able to communicate that to my audience, my job is done."

He points out that his target audience includes a varied set of people who are influenced through different marketing campaigns: “A person who's into running will be influenced differently from a person who plays football and so is the case for people who are involved in any other kind of fitness routine. However, the brand has always believed in maintaining consistency in messaging and its product portfolio; a consumer in India gets to see the same stuff that a consumer gets to see in the US or in any other part of the world."

This wasn't always the case. Until about two years ago, there would be differences in content messaging in different regions. But the company came across a consumer insight that changed its digital strategy - 'why should the consumer in India be treated differently?'

"It was not only in India, it was happening everywhere, everyone used to see different campaigns. But now we stick to parallel messaging across all our platforms, be it digital or any consumer touchpoint and that is the reflection of what you see on the social pages as well. The only reason we have certain local pages is to bring out the local flavor which, obviously, the rest of the world cannot experience," he explains.

We asked Singla if that would risk alienating consumers who lived in tier II or III cities. "It's not a question of alienating consumers; it's about exposing them to something they've not seen. We as a brand, treat every individual the same way. We think people everywhere are the same and we are just exposing all the individuals equally to what we have to offer to them."

E-commerce has changed the way consumers shop and while questioned about how it affects Adidas, this is what he had to say, "From a marketing perspective, every brand has a different role to play. Every brand is playing a digital role in that sense. The way we're communicating and the way we're marketing is what differentiates one brand from the others. I don't think that the e-commerce space changes anything per se. Whether it's an online store or a retail one, there are so many brands, it all boils down to what the consumer thinks is the best product. If I have the best offering in the market, I realistically don't have to worry about that. When I'm launching a new product, I am concerned with communicating to my consumer what the features are and I don't think there's any different strategy as such, that we use in terms of reaching consumers online."

It's not just their sporting goods, their lifestyle brand - 'Originals' - also works in a similar vein. Adidas has roped in influencers like Kylie Jenner, Donald Glover and Ranveer Singh, in India, to effectively communicate with and reach a younger audience.

"If I have the best product offering in the market, marketing to e-commerce is not a concern": Sharad Singla, Director, Brand Marketing, Adidas India

Kylie Jenner for adidas Originals

"If I have the best product offering in the market, marketing to e-commerce is not a concern": Sharad Singla, Director, Brand Marketing, Adidas India

The ads were intended to have a retro look and feel

"If I have the best product offering in the market, marketing to e-commerce is not a concern": Sharad Singla, Director, Brand Marketing, Adidas India

The ad was animated in the same style of Childish Gambino's music video 'Feels Like Summer'

"If I have the best product offering in the market, marketing to e-commerce is not a concern": Sharad Singla, Director, Brand Marketing, Adidas India

The 2018 campaign showcased Kashmir through the lens of a football lover

"If I have the best product offering in the market, marketing to e-commerce is not a concern": Sharad Singla, Director, Brand Marketing, Adidas India

Click on the image to enlarge