Adidas Vs. Puma: Past And Present

Sport brands such as Adidas and Puma are not only titans in the sportswear arena but also key players in an enthralling tale of sibling rivalry, innovation, and success. This narrative takes us from modest beginnings in a quaint German town to the current global arena of sports and fashion.

Adidas Vs. Puma In The Past

The Early Years
Adidas and Puma share an origin story dating back to the early twentieth century. Following World War I, Adolf Dassler, known as Adi, started crafting shoes in 1920 in Herzogenaurach, near Nuremberg. He and his brother Rudolf established ‘Gebrüder Dassler Schuhfabrik’ in 1924, specialising in athletic footwear and quickly achieving success. At the 1928 Amsterdam Olympics, most German athletes sported their shoes. Lina Radke clinched gold in the 800 meters wearing Adidas shoes. During the 1936 Berlin Olympics, Jesse Owens competed in Adidas shoes and secured four gold medals, significantly enhancing the brothers’ renown.

The Split And Founding
The brothers’ relationship significantly deteriorated during World War II due to war dynamics and personal disagreements. In 1948, they parted ways definitively. Rudolf Dassler initiated his own shoe factory across the river Aurach, initially called Ruda, swiftly rebranded to Puma. On August 18, 1949, Adolf Dassler formally established ‘Adi Dassler adidas Sportschuhfabrik’ and launched the Adidas brand, quickly gaining traction with the iconic three stripes.

Mutual Growth And Rivalry
Following the split, both brands experienced significant expansion. Adidas benefitted from the ‘Wirtschaftswunder’ and the triumph of the West German football team, who were crowned world champions in 1954 wearing Adidas boots. Puma also celebrated victories, such as Hannover 96’s success in the Bundesliga in 1954, where most players donned Puma boots. The rivalry between the brothers remained fierce, and they never reconciled in life. Even in death, they are buried as far apart as possible within the same cemetery. A symbolic reconciliation occurred in 2009 when teams from Adidas and Puma played a friendly football match.

Adidas shoes
source: Adidas News – Adidas shoes

Adidas Vs. Puma In The Present

Product Offering And Innovation
Adidas is firmly established as a pioneer in the sportswear industry, featuring a vast array of high-tech products and partnerships with top athletes and celebrities such as Pharrell Williams and Katy Perry. The brand is celebrated for innovations in footwear technology, including the Boost sole technology that provides unmatched cushioning. In contrast, Puma focuses on innovation while emphasising style and fast fashion, evident in their trendy designs and collaborations with contemporary artists and fashion icons like Rihanna.

Market Position And Reach
Adidas is globally recognised as the second-largest sportswear brand, just behind Nike. With a robust market presence in both North America and Europe, Adidas appeals to a broad and diverse customer base. Although smaller, Puma holds a strong position in Europe and is making significant inroads in Asian and North American markets. Puma’s strategy focuses on maximising visibility through high-profile collaborations and targeted marketing, helping them stay distinctive in a competitive market.

Both brands adopt a premium pricing strategy, but Adidas often commands slightly higher prices due to its use of more advanced technologies and extensive research and development. Puma offers a more affordable range, likely to attract younger consumers and those seeking a blend of style and performance without an exorbitant cost.

Marketing Strategy And Sponsorship
Adidas heavily invests in global sports events and maintains a wide presence across football, tennis, and basketball. It actively sponsors international teams and events, reinforcing a strong global brand image. Puma, while also engaging in sponsorships, tends to support emerging sports and younger athletes, in addition to its traditional stronghold in football. This strategy keeps them perceived as a youthful and dynamic brand.

Puma sneakers
source: Unsplash – Puma sneakers

Loyalty Programs
Both Adidas and Puma enhance customer loyalty with innovative loyalty schemes. Adiclub rewards purchases with points leading to exclusive benefits like early product access and special events. Puma’s PUMA CATch Up enriches the sporty lifestyle of its users by offering access to unique workouts and events, with extra rewards for social media interaction and app usage. Both programmes aim to deepen customer engagement and foster a strong connection with the brand. For a comparison with their competitor’s scheme, see our article on Nike Membership.

Both brands are committed to sustainability, though Adidas is frequently lauded for its progress in eco-friendly production, including the use of recycled materials and its pledge to more sustainable operations. Puma also adheres to robust sustainable practices, with initiatives like employing more sustainable materials and reducing its carbon footprint.

This riveting tale of rivalry has given rise to two of the most influential sportswear brands in the world. Each has forged a distinctive path in today’s competitive market. As they continue to innovate and adapt, the legacy of the Dassler brothers endures through every pair of shoes and each item of clothing they produce. Adidas and Puma not only inspire athletes and fans around the globe but are set to do so for generations to come.

This article, originally authored by Florence, was first published in on 16 May, DOI: It is reprinted here with permission from the publisher and the author(s). Any modifications made to the article since its original publication are noted in the text.

Florence Stroink