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Reebok: ‘It’s not that difficult to convert traffic from social media into sales’

Assigning a business value to social media beyond site visits still mystifies many marketers but Reebok believes it can spark direct sales if it is more closely linked to the location of stores.

The sportswear maker argues that if brands channel their social media activations around events close to their stores then it’s easier to see whether their posts are driving sales. It’s a somewhat straightforward solution to a complicated issue and can only really work if like Reebok, marketers use a calendar of events throughout the year.

“Tracking the value of social media becomes easier as we align our events and everything we do through digital around a retail proximity,” explained Reebok’s vice president for Western Europe Chris Froio. “Say we had a Spartan Race in Madrid and then we can target back to an area close to that event where we have stores and consequently say whether it drove traffic and conversion – it’s a simple way to do it.”

Just because someone likes you, it doesn’t mean you have a relationship with them. It’s a mindset the business has had to adapt in order to show social media’s role in the path to purchase, using its switch from traditional advertising to event marketing to get in front of fitness lovers. Whereas in the past Reebok’s ad spend might have been spread more evenly across a myriad of mediums - from TV to experiential – increasingly its being pumped into supporting the events it hosts.

Some 150 events, spanning the brand’s global partnerships with CrossFit, Spartan Race, Les Mills and UFC, are being held in Western Europe alone this year, averaging three a week.

“If we spend all our money on a big TV campaign then we might be live for four to six weeks and are then quiet for a long time,” added Froio. “We believe that spending our money on a more consistent level – below the line if you will – through social and digital around these events then we’re going to have more consistent, everyday interactions with people.”

To do this at scale, the business has been siphoning money from its TV budgets into social.

“While we’re not the only brand to overinvest in social media, we do have a unique message that can break through the clutter,” claimed Froio. “Compared to our competitors, I would say that we’re spending less on TV as a proportion of our marketing budget. We still rely on TV especially in our bigger markets but on a global basis we will probably spend less than we have done in the past.”

The activity is also designed to accelerate Reebok’s ecommerce sales that have so far doubled this year versus 2014. Increased programmatic and sequential messaging are also being primed to grow this retail channel as it races to make 99 per cent of its products fitness related by 2016. Currently 85 per cent of its products are fitness, which is up from less than a third (30 per cent) four years ago.

“We’re converting more and more consumers,” claimed Froio. "We’re not just driving them in-store and hoping they buy a product anymore. I think our ecommerce is strong because we have a product that people want and are increasingly engaging people at our events. I think that by talking to someone at a Spartan Race and maintaining that relationship afterward that we’re seeing them make more purchases online and go into our stores.”

Reebok made the decision to go back to its fitness roots four years ago after Adidas purchased the business at a time when it was struggling for growth. Now, with eight consecutive quarters of growth behind it, the business is pressing forward with an aggressive global push to seal its transformation into a fitness brand. The “Be More Human” campaign eschews the usual performance-related messaging from the category to demonstrate how fitness can improve lives physically, mentally and socially.

Off the back of the strategy, which could last several years, Froio wants to double the Western Europe business in the next three to five years. A key part of this growth will come from womenswear, which Reebok plans to shift up from 40 per cent of its business and 50 per cent of its product range.

“We’re 100 per cent focused on fitness. It’s not just one of many thing that we do. It’s the only thing that we do. 99 per cent of our products by the time we get to 2016 will be fitness related and that’s a big statement because that means we’re going to be solely focused on one thing for consumers."

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