Adidas Confirmed App – Research + Strategy

Client: Personal Research
Date: May 3, 2018
Services: Service Design


Adidas, the N0.2 sportswear manufacturer in America and No.1 in Europe, trails Nike significantly in the DTC (Direct To Consumer) metric.

The Adidas Confirmed App should play a key role in moving DTC forward but currently utilizes a self-defeating strategy which hurts the brand’s organic expansion efforts. In this case study, we’ll examine two core problems with the app and suggest solutions that could address these issues.

Project Goals

The goals of this case study are as follows:

Improve DTC Growth

And close more of the gap Nike has in this metric.

Add Content Strategy

And give users a reason to come back and stay engaged.

Improve App Experience

Move the perception of the app forward for consumers.

What this case study isn’t…

This is NOT an exercise in creating a sleeker visual (UI) experience. While some areas will contain visual solutions, my primary focus is improving the underlying service and content methodologies for the Adidas Confirmed App.

Problem 1

You’re either in the zone or not. The app uses geo-fencing (geo-location) technology to detect whether a user is in the zone of one of the 3 cities where the service is currently available. The only way to get a coveted release via the app is to be in the zone of one of these cities. Here we see a user inside and outside of the defined “zone” in Chicago.

Without expansion, this strategy has several long-term challenges for consumers and Adidas.

As a matter of fact, Nike doesn’t use zones. In the above two SNKRS PASS examples a user simply needs to be in Miami’s Grove Nike location or Nike Boston to pick up the shoes on April 7th.


To uncover meaningful insights that would help validate the viability of hypotheses and strategic solutions, I did some research across several platforms, analyzed qualitative feedback and interviewed a few customers to better understand their pain points with the Confirmed App.

Artificial scarcity is not without unintended consequences, especially when a growing amount of individuals feel left out of the big picture. There are also underlying monetary implications the research uncovered that affects the brand’s bottom line. 

The V1 Black Pirate was one of the most sought after and copied shoes of the last 5 years.

animated Yeezy 350 Boost .gif by Karl Martini

The 3 main personas that use the Adidas Confirmed App.

This is not the full exhaustive feedback I received from users I reached out to and what keyword patterns were detected.

Problem 2

The Adidas Confirmed App has a content strategy challenge. When there are no releases, the app is basically devoid of any content. A user can only view “past releases”. Many users I spoke with didn’t find this very useful regardless of whether they had scored the shoe or not. 

Nike’s SNKRS App and Nike+, on the other hand, are ALWAYS on.

Nike is relentless when it comes to ALWAYS providing a reason (endless content + programs) to engage with their apps.

Solution 1

So what can Adidas do to keep their increased momentum going, grow their brand awareness and further improve their bottom line?

In this strategy, Adidas would utilize social listening (qualitative sentiment analysis), surveys and voting mechanisms to try and determine “smart” areas for expansion. They should also consider where Nike is already dominant and not try to beat them there. Remember, Nike is the market leader at some 18% growth in DTC from the previous 2017 quarter at the time of this case study.

Solution 2 – Content Strategy

In order to create more value for the end consumer and Adidas, I needed to rethink the content frequency and programs. The goal of this section would be to move Adidas away from the current use cases in which no content is available in the app when there is no release. 


There’s more work to be done. In the user sentiment, I detected a high level of unreliability and errors in the app. These are server-side/engineering issues in how the app manages the stress of consumer demand. While Adidas will want to maintain some level of friction, the user success rate in the app should be higher. Even if a small portion of users is unsuccessful they should be able to recover from basic errors or not see them at all. This would be closely aligned to system heuristics in error handling.

The problem with the app being botted also needs to be resolved to change the sentiment of unfairness found in a large percent of the user feedback.