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Adidas eyes up the subscription arena with Avenue A

By Vivian Hendriksz

23 Feb 2016

Retail

London - Subscriptions for beauty boxes, ranging from Birchbox to Glossybox and Ipsy have already dominated the cosmetic sector and personal stylist driven subscriptions services such as the Trunk Club, Collar Club and Cinch Club (menswear online services are clearly for members only) have been opening their doors across the globe over the past few years. Now German sportswear giant Adidas has made its play into the growing field with the launch of Avenue A: a new, quarterly, subscription service which offers a curated selection of its running and training products.

Aimed at the women's wear market, Avenue A first box of products was developed in collaboration with fitness artist Nicole Winhoffer, as the sportswear company aims to offer subscribers selected items. "I get a lot of inspiration from what's around me," said Winhoffer on Avenue A debut edition, spring 2016. "I love cultures and I combine different styles, cultures, dance, and performance into my own unique style. [adidas] is paying attention to a woman's need to be stylish, confident and one of a kind. They're doing it in a really cool new way."

Adidas aims to fulfil women's sporting needs with Avenue A

Similarly to other online subscription-based services, the contents of each box will be surprise to the consumer, with each order including 3 to 5 items ranging from footwear, apparel and accessories, matched to the user's size profile and seasonally appropriate for each shipment. One item which has been unveiled for the spring 16 box is the PureBOOST X, a running shoe specifically designed for women. "PureBOOST X is a great example of the huge focus we have on the versatile female athlete," commented Kelly Olmstead, Senior Director of adidas Brand Activation. "And it's so inspiring to collaborate with women like Nicole who are staying active in a way that's authentic to their lifestyle."

"Our brand is listening to what women truly want, and that is product designed specifically for her combined with unique, customized experiences. Avenue A helps us deliver that in one convenient and inspiring package. The best part is, this is only the beginning," added Olmstead. Currently only available for shoppers in the USA, the subscription includes four boxex per year, released in March, June, September and December, at 150 US dollars per box or 600 US dollars per year. The subscription is a rolling one, which means users will have to contact adidas if or when they wish to cancel their subscription.

Although the reasons behind adidas decision to move into the subcription field are clear, the athleisure trend does not seem to be going anywhere any time soon) and busier lifestyles means less consumers have time to shop around, leading to increased interest in subscription-based services, it remains difficult to imagine a wider audience willing to drop that amount of money on active wear.

But are women willing to shell out 600 US dollars on a sportswear subscription service?

Adidas claims that their core subscriber is likely to be a woman who places fitness and health at the core of her lifestyle. However, with an ever increasing number of fitness and workout options on the market, paired with different performance needs and preferences, would this consumer trust the German sportswear firm to select her workout outfit? The subscription is likely to be more appealing to those who take their fitness and exercise regime a little more casually, but will they be willing to drop 600 US dollars on athletic wear a year?

Combined with the fact that adidas only lets users swap items in their box if the size is wrong or the item is defective - and not if they simply do not like it, its remains a significant investment on the consumers side. Other subscription services, like the Trunk Club, on the other hand let shoppers decided which items they wish to keep and which ones they return. And although most beauty box subscriptions do not take returns, they generally run from 10 US dollars per box to 30 US dollars, a significantly lower cost which helps negate the risk a consumer will not like a certain product.

But with Avenue A, shoppers are potentially exposed to a possibly high risk at a high cost, which may pose as an issue in the growth of the new business model.