Puma CEO: Our future is female

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Puma: focusing on women for turnaround.
Puma: focusing on women for turnaround.

Bjørn Gulden says focus on female marketing will be key to Puma's turnaround

Puma CEO Bjørn Gulden has promised a renewed focus on female consumers in 2015, as the sports brand eyes new growth markets to drive its turnaround.

Gulden highlighted Herzogenaurach, Germany-based Puma's recent moves to appeal to women, namely signing up Rihanna as global brand ambassador in December.

The multiyear deal will see Rihanna feature in Puma's biggest marketing push in the brand's history, the "Forever Faster" campaign. She will also endorse upcoming sportswear for women, including the new Pulse XT range.

Gulden said: "The addition of Rihanna as a brand ambassador and as one of our creative directors is a commitment to our increased focus on the female consumer segment, as we truly believe that the future is female.

"We know that the turnaround will take time but feel that 2014 was a turning point. We expect 2015 to confirm that we are moving in the right direction."

Expensive marketing

Gulden's comments come as Puma reports a surprise loss for the final quarter of 2014. The sports brand reported a net loss of 4.6 million euros ($5.25 million), against analyst forecasts of a 7 million euro profit.

The brand blamed a strong dollar and considerable marketing expenditure for the year. Apart from signing Rihanna, Puma replaced Nike as leading gear supplier for London's Arsenal Football Club in a bid to boost its reputation as a sports performance brand. Current Puma ambassador Usain Bolt also featured prominently in the "Forever Faster" campaign when it launched in August.

The subsequent marketing costs, plus the cost of the Forever Faster campaign, sent operating income spiralling almost 8.6% for the quarter.

Puma is third in the global sportswear market, behind Nike and Adidas, and facing growing competition from newer brands such as Under Armour.

This article first appeared on marketingmagazine.co.uk.

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