Reebok's Marketing Strategy For Millenials & GenZ

You see a lot of articles these days advising how to market to the two youngest generations - Millennials and GenZ - and it's no wonder.

Millennials are now in their twenties and thirties. They are fast becoming the dominant presence in the global workforce. Unlike GenXers and Baby Boomers, Millennials often haven't started families or purchased property yet, and have more disposable income to throw around. GenZ are now reaching their teens and early twenties and are enthusiastic followers of fashion and the latest trends. These factors make these demographics prime targets for marketing - especially from the ecommerce space, as they're spending more time online than their predecessors as well.

As a top fashion brand, Reebok understands this more than most, and is changing up its marketing strategy to appeal to these younger demographics.


Up until recently, Reebok's digital marketing has focused on the sport aspect of its offering - hammering home messages about toughness, determination, and discipline. However, this approach hasn't been resonating with the brand's younger audiences, and so a change of tact was required. The new campaign ditches the tough sport message in favor of something more irreverent and creative. It has more in common with fashion house films than with CrossFit.

"We have amazing global brand awareness and 20-somethings know about us, but they don't really know us: what we stand for, our history, our heritage," said Reebok's Global Head of Marketing and Brand Management, Melanie Boulden. "They don't know that we are bold, they don't know about our distinctive point of view, and they don't know that we are daring. The work is really focused on this consumer."

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The irreverence of the new direction is evident in the above example taken from the "Sport the Unexpected" campaign. You can see how it begins as a very standard sporting advertisement - showing the tired concept of a group of people playing a basketball, complete with quick camera cuts and themes of aggression and power. Then, out of nowhere, a young woman appears on the court and things take an altogether more bizarre twist.

The idea is that the new media platform of irreverent content production will be able to react with agility to changing trends and world events, and quickly create material which speaks directly to the current zeitgeist.

"This industry moves fast, and these consumers move fast," said Boulden. "We have the ability to assess a trend, quickly react and get product into market. We're fast, but I know there are people even faster than us. Speed is how you market today, and speed is how you connect with consumers today. We have to make sure a global ecosystem is in place for us to react quickly."

Young people love content which subverts expectations in this way, and even more so if it has a hint of the surreal and satirical to it. You only need look at the success of cartoons such as Rick and Morty and Adventure Time among these demographics to understand the sort of off-the-wall yet topical humor they enjoy.

Generational Marketing

To help support this new drive for the Millennial and GenZ dollar, Reebok is also introducing its first ever loyalty program.

The program, Unlocked, will not only earn customers points for purchasing Reebok products, but for a whole host of brand interactions besides. Every time a customer engages with Reebok - either through purchases, reviewing products, interacting with it on social media, or attending special promotional events such as new product launches - they'll earn rewards.

"In return they'll be offered experiential and product-based benefits," said Reebok in a press release. "Such as access to VIP events, training plans and early product drops. Additionally, 25 partner brands - including the snack company ProBar and beauty label Tula - have joined the program via a curated program devised by lifestyle media brand Well+Good."

To meet the demands placed upon it by this new digital expansion, Reebok has given its marketing budget a massive cash injection and increased its technical workforce by 30 percent, ensuring its marketing people have the resources they need to bring this vision to a reality.

Final Thoughts

With its new marketing direction and loyalty scheme, Reebok is making sure it stands the best chance of grabbing the attention of the younger generations. In ditching the humorless sporting advertisements of the past and opting instead for surrealness, the tenured activewear brand is looking to stay relevant for years to come.

You can hear Reebok's Senior Director and Head of Global Newsroom, Dan Mazei speak at Etail East 2019, taking place in August at The Sheraton, Boston.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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