Game Changer Profile
Nicholas Vu , GM & SVP for Direct-to-Consumer at Adidas Read insights
It’s hard to think of a more perfect illustration of the recent transformation in retail brand thinking than this revelation by Nic Vu, GM and SVP for Direct-to-Consumer North America, to BPI:
“Three years ago, if somebody came to our stores and tied up one of our sales associates for 60 minutes without buying, I might be concerned, to be honest,” he says. “Today, I'm hoping the consumer walks into our store and spends 60 minutes with the salesperson, even if they don’t purchase a thing – in fact, I’m actually incentivizing my team to spend that time to help customers build that relationship with our brand.”
This stunningly clear insight illustrates what customer-centricity really means in today’s data-enabled, hyper-competitive brand environment – and it comes from one of the premier performers in the global retail landscape.
Going beyond the extraordinary fact that the sporting goods industry is growing faster even than consumer electronics, net sales for Adidas Group North America grew an astonishing 24% in 2016.
Vu says: “The growth stems from a combination of things, but certainly I would attribute much of it to our global and our regional North American thinking around innovation, bringing new products faster, fresher, and more frequently, and then making our consumers part of the journey.”
And where other brands might speak of leveraging social media “feedback” from consumers, Adidas Group literally welcomes ordinary people – you or me, off the street – to physically walk in to their “Brooklyn Farm” ideation warehouse to directly share their innovative ideas with design staff.
Vu says much of the local growth stems from scaling innovation throughout the global Adidas Group – which has outperformed competitors since its recent return to its original sports focus – and from open source engagement with consumers in the U.S. market, driven by North America CEO Mark King.
Vu is responsible for Direct to Consumer responsibilities for the U.S. and Canada, with functional areas like merchandising and marketing, and covering the core Adidas and Reebok brands, as well as NBA, NHL, MLS, Mitchell & Ness, Retail Event Operations, and CrossFit Games Retail.