The last few years have seen an explosion in athleisure apparel. So much so that the term athleisure was added into the dictionary. Traditional sports brands like Nike and Adidas are jumping head first into the market to compete with niche lines like Lululemon. In an effort to better understand what factors are driving success in this hot category, we used E-Score Brand to analyze athleisure brands among four key demographics: Millennial women and men (18-34), women and men (35-49).
Millennial women are the primary target for athleisure brands, as they have spurred the crossover of the trend from the gym and store runs, to work attire. Sportswear brands have definitely noticed this increase in acceptability of athleisure clothing, as most of the major brands now have lines that target women.
While major sportswear brands are trying to take over the market, Lululemon is still a major player in the athleisure category. Lululemon is still seeing growth, but some believe they are losing ground as the major sportswear brands increase their athleisure offerings. This may present an issue for Lululemon, and other smaller players, as most pure athleisure brands rank lower for Appeal than broad ranging brands like Nike and Under Armour. Another problem Lululemon may experience in the future is finding new customers. Although they lead all athleisure brands with 73% Brand Loyalty among Millennial women, the story is different among non-customers as only 16% of this group are considering using the brand.
The North Face, on the other hand, is experiencing growing consideration among non-customer Millennial women. They lead all athleisure brands for Brand Consideration with 33%; more than doubling Lululemon. This consideration from non-customers is due in part to The North Face breaking the perception that it is just an outdoor apparel company.
Whereas brands like The North Face are trying to change their perception in an effort to capitalize on the athleisure trend, other brands are struggling to make their mark as upstarts. There is a slew of upstart athleisure brands that score high for Appeal but suffer from extremely low Awareness like Sweaty Betty (67% Appeal, 2% Awareness) and Ivy Park (40% Appeal, 5% Awareness).
Is it the Shoes?
Brands are expanding their athleisure offerings for men as well, with hopes of snagging Millennial Men. One of the reasons Millennial men have been difficult for athleisure brands to capture is men think about athleisure much differently than women.
For Millennial men athleisure starts with the feet; evidenced by 80% of the top 10 athleisure brands being brands founded on footwear. Of those, only one brand, Fila, has less than 50% Brand Familiarity, making shoes synonymous with athleisure apparel. In fact, the history of athleisure wear is rooted in footwear as the first use of the word athleisure, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, was in a 1976 Texas newspaper ad for “Athleisure Shoes by Dunham.”
Among Millennial males the top brand is Jordan Brand. It dominates other brands slotting at the top of multiple categories. The brand ranks highest for Appeal, Would Recommend, and Better Than Competitors. Also the brand has high consideration among consumers for new products as 61% say they Would Try Brand’s New Products.
Although shoe companies command the athleisure space for Millennial men, Columbia Sportswear is staking its claim. As the most appealing non-shoe company, Columbia Sportswear ranks second for the attribute A Leader and third for Brand Loyalty among this demographic.
Athleisure Growing Among a Generation
Athleisure brands are primarily targeting Millennial customers, but that doesn’t mean older generations aren’t getting in on the trend as well.
While the Millennial woman is the prime customer for these brands, the 35-49 year-old woman is a good secondary market. Brands like Old Navy Active are growing among this group. With a growing Awareness, the brand is second in Appeal and ranks highest for Brand Loyalty (78%) among customers, and Brand Consideration (33%) among non-customers.
For men in the same age range, the trend of a footwear company leading the way hold true as Jordan Brand has a lock on older males as well. Coming in at the top for Appeal, the brand also ranks highest for being Better Than Competitors (43%) and second for the attribute A Leader (55%).
Under Armour is cracking the puzzle for both men and women ages 35-49. The brand ranks third for Appeal among women in this demographic, and seventh among men.
Athleisure is the new rave, and understanding what is driving the success of brands attempting to crossover from traditional sportswear, like Nike, or break into the market, like Ivy Park, is essential. Additionally, segmenting your market and understanding what is driving success among the different segments is key as well. With over 2200 brands in our database measured across 39 unique attributes among varied demographics, E-Score Brand helps understand those factors.
Millennial men and women are represented by people between the ages of 18-34. Older men and women are represented by survey takers ages 35-49. Athleisure brands are defined as brands with athleisure offerings or specific lines. According to Mirriam Webster’s Dictionary, athleisure is defined as “Casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use.” Brands present have Awareness of 15% or higher.
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