“We need to adjust to a new digital reality …” Adam Petrick
Global Director Brand Marketing
Adam, 2020 was quite a difficult year for all of us. How did the PUMA brand experience the pandemic?
2020 was a challenging year for every brand, every company, every consumer. The pandemic changed the business environment and changed the dynamic of business. When the retail market shuts down and consumers are no longer able to shop, that’s tough, especially when you’re in an industry like ours where people like to try things on instore. Then the trend moved towards staying at home more and consumers started to think more about themselves. Their bodies, their health, both mental and physical health, became a very big topic in 2020, as did being comfortable at home. Our product offer suits that situation very well. As consumers began to understand how to shop almost exclusively via e-commerce, I think our business rebounded quite well. It will be very important to see how these trends continue.
With so much going on and so much bad news out there, how did you manage to keep the PUMA brand on people’s minds?
We tried to focus on what was going on in the world of the consumer and recognized that people were going through a difficult time. We were going to do whatever was necessary to help them through that difficult period. I think that the consumer has stayed with us for that reason. I have to say that I am extremely proud to be part of the PUMA family, because we went so far out of our way to not only support our retailers, our wholesale partners and our consumers but also our own employees and our suppliers. From the beginning of the pandemic, the management team made a lot of good decisions about how we interact with our suppliers and retailers. Our mantra was to get through this crisis together. Perhaps that is what has allowed us to weather the storm better than others. Certainly, we have also been affected but I think that the brand has made it through the worst part. I think we see light at the end of the tunnel now and I think it perhaps made the brand even stronger.
What made 2020 special from a brand and marketing perspective?
Consumers interacted with our brand almost exclusively through a digital lens. So, we had to have a plan how we were going to reach out to them that way and get our message across, using the platforms that we have. That was a shift from how we used to behave, but I think that the team has been working hard and we are going to see the fruits of that in the course of 2021 and into´22. All the trends that we’ve been talking about for the past years are here and were accelerated in 2020. So we have to understand, how consumer engagement, digital channels and all those pieces of the so called marketing funnel interact with the consumer. I’d say that’s probably the biggest trend from a brand and marketing point of view. We also see a lot of different trends that are taking place in culture, whether that’s the conversation around gender equality, social justice or universal equality. I think those conversations have been heavily impacted by digital channels. Even protest, political moments: Everything is happening on digital platforms. That’s probably the biggest gamechanger in 2020.
How will you now adapt your strategy as a result of all of these new trends?
Our marketing and brand strategy will be more focused on digital. We are talking about exclusive digital consumer journeys and we need to adjust to that new digital reality. It’s not a new thing and not a surprising trend. It’s just that I believe Covid-19 has so rapidly accelerated that shift to digital consumption that we must adapt and that’s probably the single biggest trend that’s currently impacting our strategy.
You signed some great new ambassadors in 2020. Why did you choose to partner with Neymar Jr, Dua Lipa and LaMelo Ball?
I think that in a business environment like the one we faced in 2020, we knew that we couldn’t stop moving forward. We had to create newness and fresh stories for the brand and we happened to be in a position to bring on board three amazing new partners. Neymar Jr. is a partner that anyone, any brand and any sports brand would be happy to be able to work with. We were in the great position and good fortune to have him reach out to us. Bringing in an ambassador like Dua Lipa, gives a new creative perspective to our brand. She is so extremely impactful from a cultural point of view, especially with young women. With her attitude and approach to the world, she embodies the PUMA brand. We have to always look at the values of the partner we are talking to. Neymar, Dua and LaMelo Ball all have a certain attitude. I think LaMelo perfectly embodies this attitude of the crossover between basketball and streetwear, between music and culture, between social media and the basketball court. LaMelo captures PUMA’s values, by trying to do new things, thinking in a different way, being creative in so many different aspects of his life, particularly on court.
How will you blend these three ambassadors into your current strategy?
All three of them are at the top of their game right now. Neymar will continue to front our most innovative product, the FUTURE Z football boot. We’re really excited to have him also start to play a role on the streetwear side of the brand in Sportstyle, representing some of our newest silhouettes, such as the Wild Rider. We will give Dua the opportunity and the creative platform to get her message out to consumers. That is what we will be focusing on, including her own collections and some products of her own at some point. That will be exciting. LaMelo will continue to excite people on court and he will continue to stimulate conversations off court. We will launch signature products with him. That will be a really big step forward for us.
How do you see 2021 developing?
I hope that in 2021, more than anything else, we can learn from 2020 and we can apply the learnings. I hope that we don’t seek so strongly to return to normal but focus on applying what we learned and on making things better. I think that is our opportunity in 2021, to be better. To seek faster, as our mantra says, “Forever Faster”.
Adam, many thanks for talking to us!