While many industries found it difficult to stay afloat during the Covid-19 pandemic, the sports brands industry and sportswear brands experienced the opposite—they flourished as consumers continued to exercise at home and seek modern comfort attire.
Business Wire shares that the athleisure sports brands market is expected to reach a valuation of $549.41 billion by 2028. And it’s no surprise that top sportswear brands such as Lululemon are thriving.
Individuals seek everyday wear from sports brands—casual and comfortable attire that is effortlessly versatile as they move from the studio to the office to a night on the town. Athleisure is the perfect solution as it’s a combination of activewear and casual attire.
Let’s analyze the best activewear brands based on their earnings in 2021, determine what marketing strategies are in and out, and how to compete in the competitive market.
Lululemon’s Iconic Brand Identity
Lululemon is one of today’s most popular activewear brands. It dominates the market and has the majority share over competitors, such as Outdoor Voices, Jordan Brand, and New Balance, and has developed a cult following.
Lululemon’s sports brands appeal goes beyond its fitness apparel and clothing, such as its sports bra line, bike shorts, seamless leggings, moisture-wicking t-shirts, and sweat sets. Its brand identity also extends into the company itself, its awareness of its carbon footprint, rally behind social causes, and inclusive and supportive community.
The company boasts activewear that is made to go from downward dog in the studio to the slopes, work and the movies. It’s versatile fashion clothing that adapts to meet your specific needs.
In 2021, Lululemon raised its fiscal revenue forecast to between $6.25 billion and $6.29 billion. On an adapted basis, the company earned $1.62 per share, beating estimates of $1.41.This makes 2021 their most profitable year to date and sets them up for an even more successful 2022 as the sportswear brands awareness rises and demand for gym clothes, casual wear, and quality activewear increases.
Additionally, Lululemon just announced its first-ever company shoes. This includes high-performance running shoes built for high-intensity workouts, running errands, and other daily activities. The custom sports brands Blissfeel running shoes drop in late March of 2022 and are designed specifically for active women who desire inclusive sizing and shape.
Trends & Influence in the Digital World
For an activewear brand to compete in the fashion world, it must consider trends and influence in the digital world. While affordable prices, recycled materials, extended sizing, and sweat-wicking clothes are one strategy to gain momentum, an expert digital marketing strategy is the more preferred route. Lululemon is an excellent example of a company maximizing on social media, building its brand awareness, and ultimately becoming the top activewear brand in the world.
Their activewear line is expensive, luxurious, and a personal favorite of many prominent celebrities, such as Victoria Beckham. The brand’s mission, culture, luxury price point, and exclusivity have made it the biggest sportswear brand of last year.
An excellent example of Lulu’s marketing strategy online is their latest campaign, Made for Women First, which centers around their new sneaker deal.
Adidas Strategic Co-Branded Partnerships
Adidas is another top sports brand earner in 2021, booking a net profit of $1.986 billion. It is considered the best German sports brand in the world and boasts a popular shoe company and clothing that promotes an active lifestyle.
Adidas is iconic for its logo with three stripes. It is considered one of the most recognizable sportswear brands, ranging from water bottles to workout clothes, sporting apparel, and sports gear.
Their recent release included an on-brand tank top, sports bra, clothing with uv protection, activewear, shoes, and other fashionable pieces.
One of the reasons Adidas has been successful is its co-branded partnerships. According to Hubspot contributor Sophia Bernazzani, “co-branding is a strategic marketing and advertising partnership between two brands wherein the success of one brand brings success to its partner brand, too. Co-branding can be an effective way to build a business, boost awareness, and break into new markets, and for a partnership to truly work, it has to be a win-win for all players in the game.”
Adidas has partnered with many celebrities and fellow sportswear brands, such as Stan Smith, to develop unique product lines that speak to their target audience, create emotional connections, and strengthen brand loyalties. Kanye West is another notable partner of Adidas.
The two brands developed the famous Yeezy line of shoes and clothing styles, combining West’s style and Adidas’ expanding streetwear segment.
The brand has boasted robust earnings and continuous rapid growth since its’ launch. West’s celebrity appeal benefits Adidas with added buzz and publicity. The brand is also highly exclusive, with limited releases and highly anticipated drops. Add in the steep price tag, and it’s a luxurious community with insane demand. Adidas’ co-branded partnership with West is one for the books and continues to be an effective growth strategy for the brand.
Consumer Behavior Analysis
A consumer behavior analysis is a qualitative and quantitative observance of how consumers interact with a particular company. Customers are segmented into buyer personas based on their shared attributes. Each group is then observed at each stage to analyze how each individual interacts with your company.
A consumer behavior analysis is an excellent tool that provides sportswear brands with insight into the different variables influencing an audience. It gives you an idea of the motives, priorities, and decision-making methods considered during the consumer’s journey.
In the case of Adidas, a consumer behavior analysis is an effective strategy as personalized content is key to connecting with the sportswear brands modern-day consumers. Adidas has developed many co-branded partnerships and niche campaigns that drive consumer engagement and purchase intent with the analysis in hand.
Gymshark’s Brand Awareness
Gymshark is considered a clothing brand Cinderella story. What started as a DIY screen-printing shop in a 19-year-old’s garage has become a billion-dollar business with global recognition and dozens of influencers. The brand’s youthful energy and Founder and CEO Ben Francis’ vision turned other fitness enthusiasts into fans and supporters.
The sportswear brand boasts many bold colors and unique activewear styles in its clothing, sports bra line, t-shirts, tank tops, and gym attire.
Today, Gymsharks positive public relations and organic word-of-mouth marketing strategy are its leading drivers. Social media is another incredible asset that led to rapid brand awareness and massive success. Let’s explore this further.
Instead of spending significant amounts of money on traditional marketing, Francis turned to influencers on social media. He offered free gear in exchange for ads and access to the influencer’s audience. Gymshark effectively paved the way for what is known as modern-day influencer marketing for sportswear brands.
Influencer marketing involves endorsements and product placement of sports brands from influencers, and organizations with social influence. Lifestyle brand influencers are individuals who can affect buying habits or quantifiable actions by sharing content on social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. Partnering with influencers has become a staple for many sportswear brands participating in e-commerce marketing and is a popular marketing trend of the 21st century.
Francis’ efforts to leverage athlete influencers by sending them free Gymshark fashion clothing, sports bras, and styles to wear and promote the brand worked like a charm. It attracted their target consumer and caused a tidal wave on social media. Many of these influencers continue to support Gymshark’s efforts as ‘Gymshark Ambassadors.’
This is an excellent example of influencer marketing at its finest, and propelled Gymshark into stardom in 2021.
Vuori’s Company Architecture
Vuori is the final company on our list of the best activewear brands in 2021. As a leading sports company, it is another market leader, triumphing over Outdoor Voices and New Balance. From its humble beginnings in a garage in Encinitas, California, to becoming one of the fastest-growing sportswear brands in the world, Vuori has dominated due to its aggressive digital marketing strategy and high-quality products. From its sports bras to workout clothes, compression tights, t-shirts, tank tops, and other best-sellers, Vuori offers something for everyone.
Digital Marketing Strategy
A sportswear brands digital marketing strategy involves an appraisal of specific goals that are attainable on virtual channels. In the modern world, most consumers conduct business on their mobile phones and a well-executed digital marketing strategy is vital to a sportswear brand’s success.
Nikki Sakelliou, Vice President of Marketing at Vuori, explains how their social and digital marketing strategy was critical to their success early on. Facebook was a significant channel to gain brand awareness, showcase the products, develop a strong community and social following. Once those elements were in place, the rest is history.
She shares that for brands to be successful, they must “really understand what it is you’re selling, what your story is, what your positioning is, and your point of difference in the markets. And you have to hammer that home in every single touchpoint for your customer.”
Each of the best activewear brands had a common theme—an excellent marketing strategy, brand awareness, and momentum. It is too simple for other brands to develop workout clothing, but you must become a big fan of growth, strategy, and execution on social channels to take center stage.
To last in the competitive market, you must understand your target market, specific clothing styles, and consider the best methods of communication with your audience—whether it be e-mail, social media, co-branded partnerships, ads, and more.
With these strategies in mind, you’ll have a chance to become the next biggest sportswear brand.