Puma is making moves and using Influencer Marketing to compete

JAY-Z / Puma Clyde
JAY-Z / Puma Clyde

Brand: Puma

Audience:  Puma is a long standing German sports apparel and footwear company founded in 1948.  Their products have an established identify, notably in Track and Field and especially in the Soccer industry.  In recent years, the brand has struggled to remain relevant with consumers.  Lack of identity and style are notable factors.  Since 2014, Puma has stated that one of their primary key strategies is to improve their female division if they want to compete with the likes of adidas and Nike.

Puma introduced a new women’s streetwear product line in 2016.  For this concentrated target audience, the brand is focusing on the 18-24 age group.  They want to appeal to the stylish, chic, trend setting and fashion conscious customer.  Spearheading the campaign is brand ambassador and creative director Rihanna.  The international songstress is a notable style icon with over 201+ million combined followers on social media.  In addition to the signing of socialite Kylie Jenner last year, Puma has a duo of formidable influencers for their advertising campaigns to help grow their targeted streetwear audience.

On the men’s side of things, last fall Puma signed R&B superstar TheWeeknd and in March 2017 inked rapper Big Sean to help appeal to their young male audience.  And most recently, Puma scored a major sponsorship, teaming up with rap icon JAY-Z for his upcoming “4:44” tour.  While it looks like Puma has a concentrated strategy on working with some very big names in popular culture today, there will always be consumers at different stages of the life purchase cycle where they might face resistance.   Let’s take a look at them.

The Weeknd
The Weeknd

Life Cycle:

Communities disruptors affect the Consideration stage in the Purchase Life Cycle.

Economic disruptors affect the Purchase stage in the Purchase Life Cycle.

Personal Situational Factors affect the Awareness stage in the Purchase Life Cycle.

Emotional Situational Factors affect the Desire stage in the Purchase Life Cycle.

Influence Disruptors

Communities is the conversation of the same idea with two different groups that have two different meanings.  In this example, an 18-year old female will converse with her classmates on the it factor of purchasing Rihanna’s Puma x Fenty collection and how stylish the attire looks.  A secondary conversation with her parents can turn into a discussion of price, cost and affordability.  This simultaneously becomes an Economic discussion where the parents and daughter get into a debate of need vs. want.  Both Communities and Economic elements have a disruptive influence.  They can change the sentiment course on the decision-making process from considering to buy, to ignoring the purchase completely.  Puma’s target audience is affected from these mentioned disruptors thanks to overall negative sentiment.

Situational Factors

Personal Situational Factors can come into play in the decision-making process.  For example, a mother might be shopping for her daughter who is two years below Puma’s target audience of 18-24, but desperately wants to have that cool factor thanks to the celebrity influence.   The mother might have her own reservations on what she thinks of Puma’s brand identity – particularly their brand ambassadors Rihanna and Kylie Jenner.  She might fear that their images are too risqué and does not want her daughter to associate with their likeness.   The mother puts her parental stamp of disapproval which halts the decision-making process to a no purchase.  This potentially affects Puma’s targeted audience by perhaps pushing the envelope too much with their ad campaign visuals.  This might offend a certain section of the decision purchasing audience.

Emotional Situational Factors can be of concern with Puma.  Some women might feel insecure with their body figures and will doubt themselves that they will look good wearing Puma’s products.  The company’s top two ambassador images might offset an emotional trigger among select consumers.  They display model like figures, which is not always a relatable characteristic among shoppers.  Having this mindset can stall the decision-making process from the consideration level, to totally ignoring the purchase.  What this does for the selected target audience is that there is a false hope that the female shopper can act, be like or fit into the apparel like the celebrity endorser.

Possible Micro-Influencers for Puma

While Puma is investing large sums of money at macro influencers, the brand still needs to rely on micro influencers to help grow their brand and compete with the likes of Nike and adidas.  The following selected personalities below have the opportunity to assist Puma in creating a growing community and restore their presence in the footwear/apparel industry.

Yes Julz

Julieanna Goddard aka Yes Julz, 27

Julz is a former Miami waitress turned event hostess, influence marketer, artist manager, radio show host and most notably labelled “Queen of Snapchat.”  Her audience continues to organically grow, with now an estimated 300,000 daily Snapchat views.  She is known for her hectic work schedule, championing the hashtag #NeverNotWorking.  Many of her clientele come from the entertainment industry, so when she is seen snapping with them, her profile is simply raised by association.  Her candid approach with digital marketing has become her calling card.  It is only a matter of time before she is considered a legit celebrity.  Her audience fits with the 18-24 age demographic Puma is targeting.  They took notice of her rising social influence and appointed her with a brand ambassador role in 2016.

Eddie Win

Eddie Win

Eddie Win is an avid sneaker fanatic who is known for hosting his YouTube channel.  He provides style tips and unboxing videos of new releases…some purchased, some sent directly from the supplier.  With 7,000+ followers on Twitter and 30,000+ on Instagram, Win is the ideal candidate that Puma would like to have under their influencer umbrella. Eddie is passionate about streetwear, can talk about product for days and help engage an audience for a brand.

I Love Makonnen

iLoveMakonnen, 28

Makonnen Sheran is an Atlanta based recording artist, notably recognized for his collaboration with Drake for the 2014 hit “Tuesday.”  Currently Makonnen has 134,000 followers on Twitter and 292,000 followers on Instagram.  More importantly, he represents a voice for the LGBTQ community after revealing his sexual preference on Twitter earlier this year.  Puma could leverage his identity and help promote their brand to the LGBTQ audience while having him as their potential brand ambassador.

Jacob Keller

Jacob Keller, 24

Despite his young age, Jacob is very knowledgeable of clothing brands with sharp fashion sense.  He got his start hosting his own YouTube channel and has built a consistent following ever since.  Over the years his style has evolved, from mainstream brands to high end designers to underground labels.  His selected photography shots on his Instragram page are visually appealing.  He has an acquired taste and credibility that can help a brand like Puma.  He is the idea influencer who can offer fashion advice, can take certain accessories and match them with outfits and make it work.


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