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Hartwin Feddersen

Director Marketing | 21 Dec 2006

India is a very important market for us with huge potential and we expect it to become an Asian powerhouse. In fact, last year, we were 11th or 12th among Adidas’ global business, this year, we are No. 6. We expect to be in fourth place by the end of next year.

As Director Marketing, Adidas India, Hartwin Feddersen is responsible for driving operational excellence across all marketing functions. Feddersen is involved with developing and growing retail and product management initiatives which are key drivers for growth at Adidas India.

Feddersen joined Adidas in March 2006 with a wealth of experience in the FMCG environment. Prior to Adidas, he had worked with EAC Nutrition, Singapore, for six years as Regional Category Marketing Manager-Infant Nutrition. He has also held the positions of Regional Marketing Manager and Regional Brand Manager at EAC Nutrition.

Feddersen has also worked with Dumex (Malaysia) as Product Group Manager for two years. His responsibilities included the development of assigned brands and the development of short and long term brand development plans and activities based upon consumer behaviour analysis, as well as the retail trade.

In conversation with exchange4media’s Pallavi Goorha, Feddersen speaks at length about the Adidas brand in India and the progress path and performance of the brand.

Q. Please elaborate on your sports performance stores. Have you set up such stores in any other cities besides Chennai?

Sports Performance Centre (SPC) is Adidas’ global retail concept, which was launched in the India earlier this year. SPCs serve as a unique platform for us to interact with our consumers and showcase our extensive range. Our SPCs are the ultimate destination for consumers looking for authentic, stylish yet innovative athletic footwear and apparel that helps them make a style statement. The SPC breaks away from the traditional retail formats by the range of products available in the store and its revolutionary, international design that is inspired by sports and performance. In addition, special facilities like Foot Scan help our customers choose the right product based on their individual specific needs. Apart from Chennai, we have Asia’s largest SPC in Bangalore and another one in Delhi.

Q. Do you have plans to make your products more pocket-friendly? Is there any plan to launch an economy range?

Adidas is a premium brand and our pricing reflects our positioning. Adidas is known for its superior quality and when a consumer buys an Adidas product, they recognise the value of the product and the brand. Also, consumers in India are no different from consumers elsewhere in the world, in that quality and style is more important to them than the pricing. However, we are investing a lot of time and effort to deliver even better value to our Indian consumers. We do this by investing significantly in consumer research to build an understanding of what Indian consumer preferences and needs are. Insights we gain are converted into concrete consumer offerings in our stores.

Q. Internationally you have Stella McCartney designing for Adidas. Have you tied up with any Indian designer?

Not at present, we haven’t tied up.

Q. In India, the festive season is the most important one to push sales and introduce new products. What are your strategies and initiatives for the new season?

Sportswear category doesn’t have the same seasonality as other categories, but in order to make our stores a destination we make sure that we introduce new products in our stores frequently. We also provide new facilities like our Foot Scan system, which helps our customers choose the right footwear. Recently, we have also launched the new X-Box 360 in our stores. Such initiatives are designed to ensure that our stores remain destinations for the increasingly demanding Indian consumers.

Q. Internet has become an important medium to reach to the TG. Adidas had launched its eye catching ‘Impossible is Nothing’ online video ads on Yahoo!, ESPN and MSN, what next?

Digital media is growing very fast in terms of the important role it plays in Adidas’ marketing plans. There are great opportunities here, in India as well as several other markets. We have only just started to leverage these and India can expect a lot of exciting digital initiatives from Adidas in the coming years.

Q. How important is experiential marketing for Adidas?

Consumers have become more discerning today and they have high expectations from the product they purchase. Therefore, experiential marketing has become extremely important. Today, consumers want to be able to interact with brands. The historic model where consumers are at the receiving end of mass communication and standardised products is seeing its effectiveness decline rapidly.

Q. How do you differentiate yourself from competitors like Nike and Puma?

This is by no means easy because there are several big brands with commitments across many sports categories. But there are several ways. At Adidas, we believe that what the consumer really want – today and in many years to come – is an authentic, stylish and innovative sports brand. What characterises the Adidas brand and all the people behind it is a passion for sports. That’s also very important. However, the most important thing is that consumers really connect with us, and, therefore, a lot of differentiation will be in the way that we approach the consumer and interact with her or him. We want to be inspirational and involving, and not a brand for superstars and super performers only.

Q. Has India lived up to the potential you had seen when foraying into the country?

Yes, of course! India is a very important market for us with huge potential and we expect it to become an Asian powerhouse. In fact, last year, we were 11th or 12th among Adidas’ global business, this year, we are No. 6. We expect to be in fourth place by the end of next year.

Q. Can you give us a perspective of how Adidas’ positioning has changed over the years since you entered the Indian market?

It’s quite difficult to answer this question as we have not tracked this through research since day one. However, our core brand proposition is essentially the same now as it was then, and this is a global brand proposition. Of course, there have been several new products and initiatives since Adidas entered India. Indian consumers have changed a lot too during the same time. So, in all likelihood, the way we fit into their lives and the way we are being perceived today compared to 10 years ago would have changed.

Q. How has your brand communication evolved over the years? What kind of connect does Adidas enjoy with the Indian consumer?

Our brand communication has always been passion for sports with stress on innovation and style. We enjoy a very strong connect with the Indian consumer. A recent third party brand equity research shows that the Adidas brand is very strong and healthy, and that Adidas is, in fact, a market leader in terms of brand equity in India.

Q. Any new launches in the pipeline?

We have recently launched our Fall-Winter 2006 collection, which is available in stores now. The collection is for those whose style statement incorporates stylish and innovative apparel that offers comfort and utility. The collection offers a range of apparel and accessories and is vibrant, youthful and truly sporty. The Fall-Winter 2006 collection boasts of a fusion of performance and style through technology, design and materials. The collection offers a wide range of colours and styles for men and women. Of course, we also have some very exciting launch plans for 2007, some real milestones in the history of Adidas in India. However, it is too early to disclose those plans.

Q. What is your market share in India?

We can’t really put a figure to that as there is no syndicated research in place to determine this.

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