LONDON, United Kingdom — According to a recent report by Euromonitor the sportswear category is racing ahead as consumer interest in health and fitness continues to boom.
Recording an increase of 7% for the third year in a row, the category, which includes athleisure apparel, outpaced all other clothing categories in a year that saw the global apparel and footwear market experience its weakest growth since the 2008 recession.
“Although performance sportswear takes the lead in terms of market size, valued at US$78 billion in 2016, sports-inspired is the category driving growth,” explained Bernadette Kissane, apparel and footwear analyst at Euromonitor International.
“Both sports-inspired footwear and apparel is growing at a rapid pace, registering 10% and 6% growth in 2016, respectively. In addition to emerging markets such as India and Thailand, core markets such as the US are also producing significant sports-inspired growth, despite its reputation as a performance-orientated market,” she added.
Despite industry concerns around oversaturation, Kissane insists the category shows no signs of collapse. Highlighting the launch of high-profile, designer and celebrity-endorsed activewear brands such as Ivy Park and Tory Burch as well as continued interest in the sector from sportswear giants Nike and Adidas, in contrast Kissane argues that:
“With a wider selection and greater availability, sports-inspired products are gaining in popularity among a consumer base that seeks to incorporate sport-styled designs into their everyday wardrobe.”
Spotlighting Under Armour’s impressive growth, having recently recorded its 26th consecutive quarter of 20%+ revenue growth in the third quarter of 2016, the research cites “the company’s ability to tap into growing consumer demand for everyday clothing items that feature athletic functionalities,” as being key to its success.
However, with consumer priorities shifting towards experience over consumption, the research suggests that 2017 will prove to be a challenging year for the entire apparel market.
In a bid to recapture consumers’ attention, athleisure and sportswear brands such as lululemon and Nike are already implementing more immersive strategies, with an emphasis on the in-store experience.
Investing in ground-breaking new store designs such as Nike’s New York store, complete with a full-size basketball court, or Lululemon’s in-store workouts led by influencers, these brands are creating experiences that connect with consumers in a more meaningful way than ever before.
For athleisure and sportswear brands, tapping into the motivations of the customer is critical if they are to create a long-lasting dialogue, and experiential retail serves to open up that conversation.
In a landscape where consumers are placing an increasing amount of importance on who they are rather than what they own, to thrive in this new era of consumption, athleisure and sportswear labels must continue to work towards inspiring a sense of identity.