While international sportswear giants such as Nike (NKE), Adidas (ADDYY) and Puma (PUM.DE) are bitter rivals, they all have one thing in common: they’re trying to cut out the middleman, by way of the rapidly accelerating e-commerce market.
Last week, Adidas announced an ambitious four-year plan called “Own the Game”, which centers around a shift towards a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model and describes, through company-owned retail stores, factory outlets, and most importantly, digital channels.
As part of the new strategy, Adidas aims for its direct-to-consumer business to account for half of its total sales by 2025 and contribute more than 80% to the company’s targeted revenue growth until then. The company’s new business will be built around membership, a strategy that both Nike and Adidas have been pursuing aggressively in recent years. By 2025, Adidas aims to triple its members to around 500 million, all while doubling its e-commerce sales to around $10 billion.
As the following chart shows, the world’s largest sportswear companies are all moving in the same direction in terms of dealing directly with consumers, with a major emphasis on continued digital growth. With DTC sales accounting for 41% of total sales in 2020, Adidas is half a step ahead of its largest competitor Nike, whose DTC business accounted for 35% of sales in its last completed fiscal year. It needs to be noted though, that Nike’s fiscal year 2020 ended May 31, meaning that the pandemic’s positive effect on DTC sales isn’t fully accounted for in Nike’s results.