- Adidas and Nike are each taking hits to their brands in the wake of controversies, but their differing responses may be making one worse than the other, according to a report from consumer perception research service YouGov BrandIndex emailed to Retail Dive.
- Comments about slavery being a choice and support for President Donald Trump from Kanye West, whose popular Yeezy line has bolstered Adidas, is delivering a hit to the brand, according to the report. At the end of April, 29% of adults 18 and over said they’d consider buying Adidas the next time they were shopping for clothing or shoes, but that’s fallen to 23%, a one-year low, as have the brand's consumer perception levels, YouGov said.
- Meanwhile, Nike’s consumer perception is holding up against a series of reports about a toxic work environment for women and an exodus of top executives, according to the report. Compared with previous years Nike's perception issue has not risen to the level of a full-blown crisis, YouGov said. Nike actually spent most of last year with lower perception levels. But just over a third (35%) say they’d consider buying Nike, its lowest level in 11 months.
A petition on the site Care2 asking Adidas to drop its partnership with West "and tell the world they do not want anything to do with anyone who believes that millions of Africans chose to toil the fields in bondage for 400 years" has garnered more than 25,304 signatures, well on its way to its 30,000 goal. But, YouGov notes, Adidas executives have remained silent on the controversy thus far.
West's departure is unlikely. The German sportswear giant last year announced an expansion of its relationship with the music and fashion icon and said it is developing "a Yeezy-branded entity creating footwear, apparel and accessories for all genders across street and sport." But that doesn't mean the company's inaction is helping. "While Adidas may not terminate West's contract, silence and denial have not always proven to be a sound perception strategy," YouGov wrote.
By contrast, Nike CEO Mark Parker apologized for the company's culture and promised improvements, which have begun with the elevation of several executives, including women, presumably in a desire to take action after evidence that many complaints to human resources went ignored.
Rebuilding brand trust in the wake of such high profile issues is not easy, but it is important to long-term brand integrity and customer loyalty. Responding on the heels of press coverage runs the risk of coming across as inauthentic, but as a tactic, it may be better than failing to take action if the Nike and Adidas brand scores are any indication. Consistent action and commitment from top executives and human resources departments is required to address issues before they rise to dangerous levels.