Puma has seen such strong demand for products that its supply chain is racing to keep up, Puma’s chief executive Bjorn Guldensaid earlier this year. One of the popular places to point in explaining such a boost is the celebrities that Puma has enlisted as ambassadors – not least of which being Rihanna, who maintains her own line with the brand – are helping to drive growth for the brand, which still lags behind market leaders Nike and Adidas.
While the company’s market share remains low, things are, in fact, looking up. According to a statement from the brand, “Puma’s development in the first quarter of this year saw a move beyond our expectations.” Operating profits increased by 70 percent to 70 million euros, while net earnings rose by more than 90 percent to 50 million euros.
While it is not necessarily as easy as exclusively looking to celebrities to thank for the German brand’s upward trajectory - even though Gulden, who took the Puma CEO role in 2013, has, in fact, invested heavily in celebrity marketing to revive the brand - it is difficult to ignore their influence.
"Retailers ordered more because they needed more which has not been the case for a long time at Puma," Gulden said in a conference call with journalists earlier this year, referring to popular models of Puma’s footwear, including Rihanna’s Creepers and furry slides, which the star creates in connection with her creative director Melissa Battifarano, a sportswear/fashion industry veteran. With such in-demand items at play, Gulden said more consumers are buying Puma's newer products at full price, which bodes well for the brand's bottom line.
Yes, superstar Rihanna has also had a hand in helping to drive demand for Puma. Earlier this month, Puma raised its full-year guidance for 2017 based largely on a boosted first quarter. Total company sales are now expected to increase at a low double-digit percentage rate in currency-adjusted terms, up from a high single-digit percentage rate, the company said in a statement.
In a statement in connection with the report, Gulden noted that “Fenty Puma by Rihanna” Creeper “was repeatedly sold out worldwide within mere hours of hitting the stores as soon as we launched new colorways throughout the year.”
On the heels of the official launch of Fenty Beauty this week (the official makeup used for Fenty x Puma show on Sunday), Rihanna continues on her path to world domination with her latest Puma release, her Spring/Summer 2018 collection - which she revealed during New York Fashion Week. The lineup consisted of a mix of BMX/motocross-inspired apparel (including skintight bodysuits, some of which read, "Since 1988"), swimwear (think: wetsuits, cut-out swimsuits, and Fenny-Emblazoned beach towels), and an array of windbreakers and rain gear (model Taylor Hill wore a black frock layered under an army green rain jacket, while Rihanna herself opted for a lime green windbreaker and knee-high boots). And it falls neatly within Puma's renewed focus on female shoppers.
"The future is female ... we see more and more women across the world are doing sports," Gulden said earlier this year. "We feel we can be the brand that owns the space between the gym and the runway." Collections like Rihanna's certainly help in this regard.