After having a good experience at the new Nike flagship, I was excited to hit the new Adidas flagship up on 5th avenue. There was quite a bit of media hype over this store and I was interested in comparing. While I really liked both store experiences, my top line insight is Adidas is more prescriptive of a traditional flagship store right down to its location. It was big and bombastic and dramatic. In my opinion, Nike's choice of SoHo, it's community strategy, it's service strategy, and the nuanced expressions of the strategy in the design, are reflective of a greater level of sophistication in the experience putting Nike one step ahead of Adidas. Adidas is the store Nike would have built in the past which is probably testament to Nike's experience and resources as a global brand.
That said, the Adidas store is impressive and captures the unique street edge of the Adidas brand. What really struck me was the product design and collaborations. I found myself constantly being pulled into the product on the shelf and there's a lot to look at with four floors and multiple categories. While Nike chose to champion Running, Soccer and Basketball, Adidas has a wider range of product categories and as a result offers more choices. I'm not a fashion designer, but their product collaborations are good and the Pharrell Williams product is a must-have kind of hot.
The use and branding of technical materials is both impressive and engaging to the touch. Adidas brands and labels a lot of technology which you eventually tune out but it's always there to reinforce their expertise. One of my favorites fabrics is a paper material used on jackets. It's lightweight, tough as nails and elegant all at the same time.
Both Nike and Adidas are great merchandisers but I noticed a unique layering technique at Adidas. Displays were like mini-scrap books, layering photos, signs and a range of product to bring athletes and product stories to life.
One of the most unique features of the store is a bleacher section built into the stairs. It's not an unexpected element, especially for a "stadium store" concept, but the positioning of the grand stands is both useful and entertaining. The area will serve the store well both as a resting spot for weary 5th avenue crowds as well as a mini-stage for store events and product launches etc. From the street one looks up to the fans facing them as if the street is the playing field. A unique and fun perspective.
The music is, of course, spot on and put me in a great mood. While Adidas doesn't have a strong service statement they've teamed up with a professional training company and certified trainers roam the store talking to guests about whatever sport they play offering advice on how to train better, deal with injuries and of course what products can help them be a better athlete. Like Nike they utilize technology to evaluate a runner's stride in order to make product recommendations. Overall, the staff supporting all of this was very energized and seemed genuinely excited to be there.
Both stores seem to be new chapters for Nike and Adidas as they battle it out in NYC. I'd say both customer experience are well thought out down to the details and both transport you into their brands. As a fickle customer they've both convinced me and won me over. Despite all the technology and promises of personalized data points, it's the product design I can't live without. I now have products I "must have" from both brands to complete my look, not to make me a better athlete (they can't fix this :) but I appreciate their effort.