Reebok Readies New Campaigns for a Full-Court Press in Burgeoning India


Reebok is expanding its push in India, with large marketing campaigns, new products and tie-ins to big national sports stars.

The move comes as analysts say India, with more than 1.2 billion people, is ripe for market expansion. The India market research firm RNCOS found that the “Indian sports apparel market was set for annual growth of around 34% during the 2010-14 period.”

Seems like it’s a good time for Reebok to capitalize, especially since another report found that 15- to 24-year-old Indians labeled Reebok owner Adidas “the nation’s second ‘most exciting’ brand behind soft drinks giant Coca-Colas.”[more]

Reebok suffered through a $197 million accounting fraud scandal last year in India, but consumers don’t seem to be too upset about it.

“We did a research study and found that customers felt it was more of a business-related issue, and the brand equity of Reebok is still the strongest,” Reebok Chief Marketing Officer Matt O’Toole told the Press Trust of India, according to the Economic Times

Still, Reebok has created a new marketing campaign and retail concept to help convince Indians to buy Reebok.
The brand will be using Indian cricket captain M. S. Dhoni as its ambassador, along with other yet-to-be-revealed “well-known personalities from different walks of life such as musicians, entertainers and professionals,” the Economic Times reports. One new campaign, featuring Dhoni, will be called “Live With Fire,” and another to begin in February will be aptly titled “Fresh Start.” 

Stores will be revamped to feel more like gyms, and salespeople will be trained to know about nutrition and local places to work out.

In part, the changes are connected to a change at the top for Adidas India. It has named Erick Haskell as its new managing director there in hopes that he will help grow the brand in the world’s second most populated country.

While the Indian public seems unfazed by the 2012 accounting scandal, its shadow still lingers. FashionUnited reports that India’s Serious Fraud Investigation Office says “Reebok India was causing a delay in its probe against two top former Reebok employees for alleged financial irregularities and fraud.” The companied denied the charge, and the probe is said to be nearly complete.

Adidas also angered its Indian franchises recently with a plan to cut 300 stores from its current 900 there. It also asked franchise owners to sign an agreement tightening margins and requiring storeowners to work harder for sales, The LinkPaper reported.

TheLinkPaper also said Adidas “is finding it tough to make its Reebok store franchisees in India … accept terms of the new business agreement” and many franchisees have “offered deep discounts, as high as 80%, in an effort to clear stocks and settle their accounts with the company.”