Wednesday, August 7, 2019
Volume 2, Issue No. 14

3 Questions with Reebok’s Matt O’Toole

With a new team, new offices and a fully redesigned digital strategy, Reebok is ready to open the aperture. And President Matt O’Toole says continuing to focus on the intersection of fitness and everyday style is the roadmap to growth.

“The traditional thinking in sport was [there was] stuff you make for sport, stuff you make for the gym, and stuff you go out in at night to look cool. And that whole model is not the way the consumer is living,” O’Toole said. “The consumer is saying, it’s all one thing to me, I’m seamlessly moving from the gym to the rest of my life. That’s really what we see as the opportunity for the Reebok brand: bringing the healthy lifestyle business and our heritage together with what’s new and what’s next for the fitness world.”

Here, O’Toole sounds off on the women’s opportunity, Reebok’s point of difference and the savvy consumer.

1) How is Reebok differentiating itself from the rest of the athletic market?

“We’re fortunate in the sport industry that the aesthetic of sportswear and sportstyle is a huge global trend. And it’s not just an American trend or a European trend, it’s Latin America and emerging markets, it’s obviously Asia-Pacific: The consumer likes to express their lifestyle through some form of athletic gear. We see this with the adoption of athletic footwear for almost everybody. It’s this kind of macro trend that doesn’t seem to be changing anytime soon where the consumer is just comfortable expressing themselves in sportswear. It’s an opportunity for all of us. Reebok’s place in that, I think, is that we’ve got to continue, even as we were in the beginning, to be the challenger brand. This is the same attitude that we have to bring to everything. We can’t, to use a sports analogy, run the ball up the middle. The secret sauce for Reebok has got to be bringing it together at that intersection of sport and style. Of the big global athletic brands, there’s only one brand that’s one hundred percent focused on fitness, and that’s us. Everybody else is moonlighting in the fitness space, but their real passion is for World Cup or NBA. We’re thinking every day about what’s new and what’s next for our fitness consumer.”

2) Reebok has historically been strong in women’s. What’s the key to serving that demographic right now?

“Versus our competitors, a disproportionate mix of our business is with the female consumer. I would say that we still haven’t fully met her needs and the industry continues to fall short. No one’s doing it right. I think one thing is really important and that’s the consistency: staying with the models and the approach season after season so she can buy back into you. If you have to start all over again, then you’re reeducating the consumer on fit and education and it just doesn’t work. Our job is to make sure we’re even more tuned into what’s important to her. Our insight into her — even more so than him — is that she just doesn’t want this dual worlds of gym life and the rest of her life. It’s one thing.”

3) You’ve launched a revamped website and a new loyalty reward program, and put an increased focus on digital marketing. What’s your strategy for talking to your consumer?

“This is a consumer today that is very savvy, and wants to really understand the story behind the product — why does this product exist and what was the inspiration for it. So I think the real challenge that's come to everybody in our space is you’ve got to be authentic, you’ve got to be telling real stories that connect to what your consumer cares about, and they’re going to sniff it out if it’s BS.”

See more from O’Toole in the next issue of Sports Insight magazine.