Want Growth? Listen Up!

If you want business to grow in the United States, then listen carefully. That’s the lesson from the article about Adidas in the March 23, 2015 Wall Street Journal article. Adidas’ U.S. market share is continuing its 30-year slide. Once the premier sports shoe brand in the American market, it now commands only 9.7% of the U.S. athletic footwear wholesale market share according to the Wall Street Journal. The article implies Adidas’ problem (loss of U.S. market share) stems partly from not listening to the U.S. market.

The need to listen isn’t new. Anyone taking a communications class in high school learns that communication is two-way; you listen and respond. However, even the most seasoned professionals lose sight of that lesson, especially when it comes to marketing. If you talk about marketing, the topic usually focuses on campaigns — advertising, public relations, digital and direct — all outbound communications. What about inbound communications? Listening to customers, sales reps and distributor is vital. Yet, even some of the largest, savviest consumer-based companies fail at this task, and it can cost billions.

Market research and competitive intelligence are critical to any successful marketing effort. Understanding customers and competitors allows you to respond quickly and plot a long-term strategy. The important lesson is not to let research results sit on a shelf; they must be communicated, discussed and incorporated.

Your marketing team may benefit from quarterly reviews of market research and competitive data. Even if the information, presented once per quarter, is only marginally new, slight changes can offer insights. Small changes may be alerts or warnings of things to come. They should be tracked. If they aren’t aligning with your team’s thinking, it may be time to re-evaluate.

The U.S. sports apparel and footwear wholesale revenues were $51.6 billion in 2013 according to Sporting Goods Intelligence, as cited in the Wall Street Journal. That’s a big market. If you’re selling sportswear, you should listen carefully.