retail news in context, analysis with attitude

The Washington Post has a story about how Adidas is becoming "a player in the subscription-box game, having joined with the hope that the move will help it appeal to female shoppers — and in doing so grab back market share from high-flying rivals Nike and Under Armour ... The service is called Avenue A, and subscribers will receive a quarterly delivery of a curated box of sneakers, apparel and other workout gear. The mix and style of the items will always be a surprise, with Adidas promising only that the pieces will be seasonally appropriate. Some items will be exclusive or limited edition and others will be widely sold retail fare."

But the Post also suggests that there could be flaws in the Adidas business model:

"Adidas says it imagines the core subscriber will be a woman who has running at the heart of her fitness routine but also regularly incorporates other activities such as Pilates or barre class.
Avenue A boxes cost $150 each, so that means a subscriber is spending $600 a year on workout clothes. Surely there are women out there who drop that much money annually on exercise attire. But it stands to reason that if someone is spending that much, she’s not casual about her gym routine. More likely, she is a bona fide fitness junkie, someone who competes in triathlons or starts every day with a visit to the CrossFit box.

"In other words, this person is probably someone who has specific performance needs and preferences for her gym attire. It’s an open question: Is she going trust that Avenue A will consistently deliver a running shoe that is ideal for her gait? Or leggings that have the precise level of compression that she likes?

"The woman who exercises more casually might be more open to this kind of serendipity around her gym clothes, and she might place more value on having a revolving array of looks. But if she isn’t an exercise obsessive, it’s hard to imagine she’s spending $600 a year for these goods. In fact, that may be more than she spends on her overall wardrobe in a given year."
KC's View:
I'm a big fan of subscription programs, and so my first inclination is to be positive about the Adidas program. But I think the Post makes some good points about its shortcomings ... it may have been better off starting more modestly, or offering subscription levels, so it could find the right sweet spot.

That said, companies like Adidas should be looking for ways to prevent its customers from wearing products made by Nike, New Balance, and Under Armour. This just may not be the best way.