The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia started so well for adidas, the tournament technical sponsor worn by 12 of the 32 teams, including some clear favourites. But, after the first few weeks it has become a World Cup adidas would prefer to forget, starting with the almost incredible elimination of defending champion Germany in the group stages after losing 2-0 against Korea – and ending bottom of the log.

As retailers will remember, official teamwear sales gain momentum as the competition progresses with the demand for teamwear and replica reaching a frenzy as the local team nears that coveted finals spot … and as previous years, adidas would have produced plenty of German replica to meet the need as the team progressed. Especially as many German fans were planning to travel to Russia – donned in the appropriate gear – when things started to get interesting after the group stages.

Before the tournament adidas CEO Kasper Rorsted predicted that many more than the 8-m team shirts adidas sold in 2014 will be sold this year. Four years ago, German jerseys comprised 3-m (38%) of the total jersey sales that contributed to adidas’ €2.1-bn ($2.4-bn) soccer-related sales after the Brazil World Cup in 2014. This also included 14-m official match balls and as the only brand sanctioned to sell official balls, this is a revenue generator adidas enjoys exclusively.

adidas-Telstar-knock-out-ball
The adidas Telstar 18 ball used in the knock-out stages at the World Cup.

In 2016 adidas’ soccer-related sales contributed €2.5-bn, or 13.5% of the brand’s total revenue.

But this year, instead of enjoying the boost of official teamwear sales from some of the favourites, adidas offered a 30% discount on German fan wear for the first 48 hours after the team was sent home after the group stages. This offer is offered to fans of all adidas teams as they are eliminated: 30% discount for 48 hours. One of them was another adidas favourite to win, Spain, eliminated by Russia in the second round.

On the other hand, Russia’s unexpected progress into the quarter finals could compensate with shirt sales in the host nation. The economic downturn in Russia has, however, resulted in lower sales predictions for all official gear, including adidas official tournament balls (10-m expected sold).

Coming into the tournament, Nike had everything to gain, as its soccer-related sales of $2-bn contributed less than 6% of group revenue in the fiscal year ended 31 May 2017.

Going into the knock-out stages, adidas was still in a strong position with half of the 16 teams wearing the three stripes: Argentina, Spain, Russia, Mexico, Belgium, Japan, Sweden and Colombia. Five of the initial 10 Nike teams were still contenders: France, Portugal, Croatia, Brazil and England. The PUMA cat was worn by Switzerland and Uruguay, who caused another upset by eliminating Portugal (Nike) and ending Ronaldo’s Golden Boot dreams.

Also see: Which brand has the ‘Golden Boot’?

In the forthcoming quarter final round the position is reversed in Nike’s favour. Nike has four teams competing in all four of the matches being played this weekend: France, Croatia, Brazil and England. Adidas has only three teams left: Belgium, Sweden and hosts Russia. PUMA has the remaining team, Uruguay.

The quarter final fixtures this weekend (6th and 7th July) are as follows:

Friday 4pm: France (Nike) vs Uruguay (PUMA)
Friday 8pm: Brazil (Nike) vs Belgium (adidas)
Saturday 4pm: England (Nike) vs Sweden (adidas)
Saturday 8pm: Croatia (Nike) vs Russia (adidas)

 

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