Is sportswear positioned to go on a long term winning streak?
The Bank of America (BofA) has identified five “megatrends” — some accelerated by the pandemic — representing tailwinds advancing sports apparel and footwear growth in the years ahead: health and wellness, female sports participation, hybrid working models, affordable luxury and sustainability.
Health and wellness – it’s a new, healthier world: BofA cited a number of surveys over the last year indicating that people across many parts of the world are placing a bigger emphasis on their health due to the pandemic experience. Sports participation has also received a boost. Government-led programs, including China’s recently-announced five-year mass fitness program, are also expected to lift activity levels.
Female sports participation – she’s on the move: Women’s participation in sports remains low. The 2021 Erasmus Sport Project ICOACHKIDS report found only 20 percent of girls across Europe playing major sports versus 80 percent for boys. Factors driving growth include ongoing efforts around gender equality, federal programs to promote female participation and heightened awareness of the benefits of sports on health and self-image, particularly for girls.
Hybrid working models – ditching shoes for sneakers: Post-pandemic, WFH (work-from-home), which has changed attitudes toward office wear, is expected to be more common. According to a survey by the Office Group in the UK, 68 percent of respondents reported dressing less formally when working at home in 2020, while 24 percent noted they wore gym clothing.
Sportswear as affordable luxury – street meets fancy: Luxury brands are embracing streetwear culture through collaborations with sportswear brands, elevating shoppers’ price expectations. BofA wrote, “Collaborative releases are often limited, driving brand heat in our view — especially among younger generations.”
Sustainable product lines – from trash to trainers: The number of sustainable SKUs offered by sports brands increased by an average of 58 percent from 2017 to 2020, according to a McKinsey study. BofA wrote, “We believe sustainability is an emerging driver of differentiation and brand heat, which resonates particularly with younger generations who are most conscious of the environmental impact.”
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Do you expect sportswear growth to outpace overall apparel and footwear categories in the years ahead? What pre- and post-pandemic category drivers do you see as most important?