Saturday, March 19, 2011

Nike, Puma and Adidas

I remember seeing real athletic shoes for the first time. They were shiny and colorful, made from leather, nylon and lighter looking rubber than I had ever seen. A coach at my school had them, and everyone asked questions. They were ASICS Tigers, from Japan. They were only available at one small store. It was explained that they were for running. We were in awe for weeks.

Since then, I realized that the ASICS emblem was probably an outline of the striping used to identify Puma and Adidas, which I saw later. Nike came after them. Nike remains the first and only imitator I have ever seen break into the first tier. For the first few years, their swoosh was looked down upon. After all, their emblem just turned Puma's upside down.

All four of them were strongly connected to their countries of origin. All of them were worn by real athletes. For a long time, they were hard to find. They had as much brand equity as anyone ever has.

Since then, only ASICS has preserved their mystique. They don't plaster their name all over everything to be sold everywhere.

Nike, Puma and Adidas, on the other hand, might as well be the same company. All three are textbook cases of squandered brand equity, haphazard quality control, and perhaps worst of all in their business, no sense of style. Fans and dedicated amateur athletes might be able to keep track of their few offerings made for sports, but for the most part, they're lost in the piles of junk unloaded into stores every day. Today, they make generic products.

The worst example of their forays into every possible aspect of the shoe business is that all three put their names on rubber shower slippers. While there is nothing wrong with these products, they do nothing to inspire awe towards their brands. It's a strange contrast to how they burst on the scene initially. At first, they were light years ahead of anything else. Now, they are fighting a losing battle in gyms everywhere to generic flip-flops.

No comments:

Post a Comment