By Larry Leung
Beyoncé and adidas unveiled a multi-year deal to relaunch her Ivy Park brand into a “multi-layered" partnership moving beyond the athleisure apparel space. The new partnership impacts the retail industry from customer experience, marketing and branding.
The Ivy Park brand was launched in April 2016 as a joint venture with London based fashion retailer TopShop. Cofounded by Beyoncé and Sir Philip Green, the original goal of the line was to "push the boundaries of athletic wear and to support and inspire women who understand that beauty is more than your physical appearance”. The brand’s name is created from her daughter Blue Ivy Carter’s name and Parkwood Park in Houston where Beyoncé used to exercise. The sportswear line consisted of tops, bottoms, swim wear and accessories ranging from US$30 to $200. In Canada, the brand could be found in department stores and sports retailers such as Hudson’s Bay, Nordstrom, Foot Locker and TopShop, etc.
Adidas AG is the second biggest sportswear company in the world behind Nike with more than €21.915 billion revenue in 2018. Their last big celebrity partnerships were with Kanye West to form the successful YEEZY brand of apparel and footwear in 2015 and Victoria Beckham in 2017 for Reebok brand for a capsule collection inspired by 90s basketball culture.
As a creative director, Beyoncé will be on hand to design apparels and accessories for the new Ivy Park line. For the first time ever, the brand will also feature a selection of footwear.
"As the creator sport brand, adidas challenges the status quo and pushes the limits of creativity through its open source approach. Beyoncé is an iconic creator but also a proven business leader, and together, we have the ability to inspire change and empower the next generation of creators," said Eric Liedtke, Executive Board Member - Global Brands, adidas
Customers will have an expanded array of options to shop the new line at adidas shops worldwide, third party retailers and online storefronts. TopShop and Hudson’s Bay will clear remaining stock of older inventory with the latter relaunching the brand as part of adidas when more information is available.
In a world where customers increasingly preferred an experience based shopping, third party retailers should spend the time to rethink how they would showcase the new products and not fall behind with using typical selling methods. Every time a YEEZY product is launched, adidas.com is hit with millions of hits and impressions. Customers will expect the same experience with the new Ivy Park line.
Marketing and Branding
The Ivy Park brand will benefit from the global adidas reach, which ranks in the top 50 in the latest Interbrands' annual ranking of the World's Most Valuable Brand and in the top 10 of the latest Moosylvania’s millennial survey. Look for adidas to spread its marketing muscles by incorporating the Ivy Park brand with prominent placement and saturation on social / print / physical media, its website and mobile application. The latter downloaded by millions has current scores of 4.8/5 at iOS app store and a 4/5 at Google Play store.
Additionally, would be customers will likely have an advance look at new products through the next Beyoncé album cycle rumoured to drop in 2019. Future concert tours could be sponsored and marketed by adidas. This could add a new generation of fans worldwide that may not have been captured previously.
"This is the partnership of a lifetime for me," said Beyoncé. "adidas has had tremendous success in pushing creative boundaries. We share a philosophy that puts creativity, growth and social responsibility at the forefront of business. I look forward to re-launching and expanding Ivy Park on a truly global scale with a proven, dynamic leader."
Key values like empowerment and inspiration will likely play a role in how the brand will engage customers in the future. There is an opportunity for Beyoncé and adidas to innovate how to promote the brand in traditional and unconventional ways with technologies such as augmented reality, real time feedback and personalization tools and visual media seen in museums and art galleries. The goal is to showcase Ivy Park as an extension of Beyoncé’s creativity and unique perspective over the notion of “selling out”.
Using Celebrities as a Marketing Tool
It is not a new idea to use well known celebrities as a marketing tool to promote brands and products. Success is often found when there are common bonds between the brand and the celebrity. Shawn Mendes, for example, has drawn more initial and sustained publicity on the new Calvin Klein underwear campaign than the capsule collection he designed with Roots Canada. In the world of marketing, there is always an opportunity to promote and build exposure. The Canadian company can continue a sustained promotional rollout across all media ahead of his stadium tour stops in key markets. Additionally, the brand can benefit from how Shawn Mendes relate to Roots’ values through storytelling techniques.
Beyoncé and adidas’ partnership will have positive impacts to both customers and retailers searching for the next IT item. Initial product demand is expected to be very high and Ivy Park could be big hit with the right mix of Beyoncé, adidas and fun.
Larry Leung is a research and strategy director based in Toronto. He focuses on technology, experience creation, marketing and loyalty in the aviation and retail industries. Larry contributes blog posts for aviation consulting company Experience The Skies (www.experiencetheskies.com) and writes for Urban Toronto. Follow him on Twitter at @larrykleung. You can also email him at: firstname.lastname@example.org.