There are a couple of trends shaping the sports goods industry right now, that are worth mentioning. During the past few years, hit by the pandemic, the category of sports apparel and goods related to it, showed better performance than many other, and the new trend of ‘ athleisure’ came and continued strong.
Gym clothing and casual wear that are considered traditional are becoming more and more similar, especially in the context of the pandemic that started almost 3 years ago. What the athletic apparel industry is doing is that it is offering more options to allow those who wear it, to make the transition easily between leisure and exercise. This trend is known in the industry as “Athleisure,” a term that now includes yoga pants, jogger pants, tank tops, sports bras, and hoodies. Customers are very much interested in trimming down their wardrobes and buying mostly key pieces of apparel that can be used in different contexts.
Even though retail is having a shaky comeback after the pandemic started, the athleisure category of goods remains strong and its worth should be around $330 billion this year. Asia Pacific is the fastest-growing market, with the largest market being in China, but it is also expected that he demand for EU’s Fashion Sportswear will continue to grow at a high rate in the coming years. The main reason for this is certainly the fact that the European population is shifting towards healthy, active lifestyles and increased sports participation among all age groups, and that sportswear is becoming more and more popular as casual wear.
Social media’s dominant engagement for sportswear brands
In today’s world where everything is online, everything from buying tech gadgets to booking holidays, people now buy online more than ever. This is something that has made a huge turn in custom sportswear shopping. There are a couple of benefits to it. When you order custom sportswear online, you will be able to choose between a wider range of designs, you have access to more materials, and more pricing options as well.
It is probably pretty evident to everyone working in the social media field that Instagram is the one that is the most important for brands, we can say even more important than other social media, and it’s no different for the sportswear industry and ordering custom sportswear online.
Demand for sustainability
Customers who buy sportswear nowadays are becoming increasingly environmentally conscious, and are demanding to know more about how their clothing is produced and what it is made of. Some of the clothing apparel websites have the option for certain preferred sustainability credentials that users can apply to sort through products. Additionally, some major sportswear companies such as Adidas are highlighting some of their sustainable products made with organic cotton as well. More and more sportswear companies are using recycled polyester and low-impact, non-toxic dyes.
What can be seen recently is that a lot of top global brands are pumping resources into new launches, they are trying to promote new categories of athleisure, and generally trying to muscle in and own the space. This way competition is so tight at both ends of the pricing spectrum and the pressure increases and puts a spot on brands to differentiate themselves.
Top categories in sportswear
Sports clothes and sports shoes are the two biggest sub-categories here, T-shirts and sports pants are still the most crucial sub-categories in terms of revenue, and the competition is already intense for these basic sub-categories.
Marketing shift from assets to influencers
Digital marketing traditionally focuses on assets that tend to have broad visibility, like event sponsorships. But with sporting events being very often canceled, postponed, or played in empty stadiums, and consumers spending even more time online, what sporting goods industry players need to do is try to shift to digital. To build awareness with people, credibility, and engagement, brands need individual athletes as influencers, who have a better reach than events or associations. In the eyes of consumers, athletes are role models and as such, they need to take a stance on topics that are important to consumers and brands need to ensure alignment with these messages.
What will the future bring for sportswear?
One of the big trends that leaped forward during the lockdowns was online shopping. Consumers are now comfortable and confident when it comes to buying online and this has broken many of the old spending habits. What this actually shows is that the purchase that consumers make when it comes to their next pair of running shoes may look very different from the last they made. Not only will they buy online instead of in-store but their old brand loyalties are more likely to get disrupted by new market entrants reaching them online.
So in this new normal, winners will be characterized by a strong presence in growing segments and sports categories, direct connection to consumers, through digital communities, loyalty programs, credibility when it comes to sustainability, and sports marketing optimized for digital channels, that puts a focus on influencers.