Puma currently has Neymar, Manchester City, Lewis Hamilton, and many more stars like those under its banner. But the road to this point hasn’t been easy for the sportswear company. Let’s look at the history of Puma, its highs and lows, and its relationship with the footballing world.
A] Origin Story:
The Dassler brothers together started making shoes in their small hometown in Germany. At the time the Dassler shoes were very popular and they were used by prominent athletes of that time. Many Olympic medalists used Dassler shoes. But, as luck would have it, after 30 years of working together, the brothers split up and went their separate ways.
Adolf Dassler created Adidas and Rudolf Dassler founded Puma. Yes, two of the most famous shoe brands originate from the same bloodline.
B] Early Success:
Puma fared well throughout their time in making shoes. The 1958 Brazilian world cup winning team wore the Puma studs. Their greatest Ambassador though was Pele who won the world cup on 3 occasions. In the 80s they were associated with the Argentine great – Diego Maradona. Maradona won the world cup for Argentina wearing the Puma shoes. So, you can imagine all was going well for the Puma brand. Until it wasn’t.
C] Fall and Eventual Rise with Fashion:
Despite being 2nd placed in terms of revenue only behind Adidas. Puma fell to 4th in the sportswear market. The rise of new players and continued success of their old rivals – Adidas and Nike. Puma struggled in the early 90s era.
So as a rescue act Puma changed its positioning. From being an authentic sportswear brand from Germany, Puma changed their focus towards Fashion. With many collaborations with international designers and with aggressive marketing strategies, Puma established a foothold in the lifestyle products sector. Once their revenue started to stabilize, they took advantage of this foothold in fashion and used it to co-create with the sports industry.
Puma merged Sports and Fashion by collaborating with star designer Jill Sander. Lifestyle versions of football shoes and running shoes were launched and puma became the market leader of this niche segment.
C] Return to the Sporting World:
Now Puma had been successful in fashion and lifestyle products. They merged fashion and football. But that was not enough for the sporting market. Puma due to its love affair with fashion was losing its credibility as a sports brand and sales were dropping. Even though during this time frame they were associated with top athletes and teams like Usain Bolt and Scuderia Ferrari of F1. Puma was losing the game and something had to give.
Revenue either fell or stagnated for the German company until 2013. With roots in sports and a focus on fashion, the brand was missing a consistent purpose.
In 2013 Puma hired a new CEO to run the company. Bjorn Gulden now the new man in charge decided to change the fate of the company. With their new motto of Forever Faster, Puma aims to be the fastest sports brand in the world. Targeting sports categories like football, running, and training, golf, and motorsports. Bjorn wants to change the perception of the company back to its roots in sports.
Forever Faster indicates Puma’s desire to sign the best athletes and teams to reclaim its position atop the sporting world. Since then, Puma has gone on to sign Neymar, Manchester City, and Lewis Hamilton, demonstrating their strong commitment to sticking with their aim. Forever Faster.
Puma is now balancing its focus on fashion and sports, but for how long can they maintain the balance? – only time will tell.
On the other hand, if they can maintain their balance and credibility there are millions to be made from both sectors. If that happens, they can potentially destroy their competitors – Nike and Adidas.
That is the Journey of Puma so far, and a future that holds all possibilities!