The 80s marked a big shift in the sports world as head-band and leggings -wearing masses started to push into gyms that sprung up like mushrooms. Since then fitness became one of the biggest categories of the entire sporting goods industry. The 80’s quirky idea of style changed and so did it change how and why people are trying to keep fit. In fact there are experts that believe that the fitness industry is standing at one of the most important cross-ways since decades. One of these experts is Matt O'Toole, Chief Marketing Officer at Reebok.
Our deep and unique knowledge and understanding of the fitness sector is crucial for successfully driving the change we see ahead.
The unmatched fitness-insider-role Matt refers to originates in the fact that Reebok played a pivotal role in lighting the fire of the 80s fitness craze. In 1982, the brand introduced the Freestyle, the first athletic fitness shoe specifically designed for women. Reebok built on this through innovative fitness programming such as the introduction of Step Reebok, which got many women moving and enjoying fitness. Reebok made its mark.
But as time elapsed the standard and inspiration for which we should participate in sports activities changed: athletes have been elevated to super stars and people have taken to the sidelines, stadiums and couches, becoming viewers rather than participants. The result: more and more, people have stopped moving; people have lost their way as to why they should be leading active lives and what it can do for them. This change in behavior and culture has contributed to many of the world’s health problems.
Ready for A change
Now, a couple of decades later, people seem to be ready for a shift; a shift that Reebok identified, analyzed and that the brand is prepared to drive.
More and more people are looking for ways to improve the quality of their lives. More than 50% of the entire adult population – that’s more than 3 billion people globally – participate in fitness activities and consider fitness an important part of their lives. However, the bad news is that most of them don’t enjoy it. For many who do exercise, fitness is often viewed as a chore – an isolated activity that people do because they feel they need to, but not because they want to or truly enjoy it. For others, access to fitness is the larger issue.
“At Reebok we believe in the power of fitness too much to accept this dynamic”, says Matt and continues: “The sports world, and the world in general, is moving towards an important crossroads and Reebok will lead the way in the right direction.”
How Reebok wants to usher in a new revolution in fitness.
To do so Reebok is on a mission to get people moving. The brand wants to change the way people view and experience fitness - because life is not a spectator sport. You can be a fan, but be a participant as well.
Our mission is grounded in a strong belief that guides the brand today and in the future – that the true fruits of a fit and active lifestyle lie in their application to life. And that those who are fit for life, will be the greatest contributors to our world.
And indeed, studies show that being fit can open up a person’s world to more possibilities and can have a profound impact on not only the individual, but the people around them. Because fitness benefits transcend the physical elements that people are already familiar with - transforming the body and improving overall health: Improved fitness has been shown to have mental benefits, like improved mental function, and social benefits, like creating a more cohesive, compassionate society. This is the message Reebok is dedicated to spread. Matt’s team intends to break down barriers that keep people from getting fit which includes showing them that fitness, in fact, can be fun. “We’re getting people hooked on fitness so they can get more out of life. We want to help them to make the shift from being a participant in a solitary, tedious activity to being part of a social, supportive and fun fitness community.” explains Matt.
This will require a unique approach – a more personal and one-to-one line of communication. “We can’t help people unlock their full potential by shouting at them from the mountain tops and telling them what to do or who they should be like or emulate. Each and every person’s journey of change – physical, mental, emotional, or social is unique. But the potential exists for everyone and can be incredibly powerful when it is unleashed or uncovered. We know from experience here at Reebok that through fitness you can learn how much you are really capable of. Walk into any CrossFit box or stand at the finish of and Reebok Spartan Race and you will see it firsthand,” says Matt.
Selling products is part of the plan
Lofty goals for a company that is, at its core, a product company. But in fact products are central to Reebok’s strategy. The approach to even the most advanced footwear and apparel is fairly simply: the brand’s products should first and foremost help people to improve their fitness, but also look and feel great as this is a prerequisite to enjoy the workout.
“I believe the difference between Reebok and our competitors has always been our approach and our path to reaching our goals. I think we’re doing so today. Sure, we evolved over time just as much as everyone else did and the Reebok of today looks a lot different than it did five years ago, or even fifteen years ago. But with addressing and driving this shift in fitness Reebok is in many ways closer to its original DNA and heritage than ever before. This is why I have no doubt it will pay dividends in the future”, concludes Matt.