Athleisure is no longer a fleeting trend. With sales in the US estimated to hit $117 billion by the end of 2020, existing brands are investing eagerly in their Activewear offerings, while new players clamor to enter the growing space. L2’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear finds that top Activewear brands boast strong performances across all dimensions, with millions of engaged followers, high traffic to brand sites, and sophisticated digital marketing strategies. Meanwhile, Challenged brands underutilize social media channels and face an uphill battle in getting browsers to their sites.
Like fellow Genius brand Under Armour, Nike has expanded beyond performance apparel and footwear to become one of the top 15 overall clothing brands among millennials in 2016. That impressive performance is reflected in the brand’s digital investments, which include over 20 highly followed US and global Instagram accounts and an impressive layout of mobile offerings.
2. Under Armour
Under Armour has invested comprehensively in the customer experience, offering live chat with estimated wait times and product pages that offer automatic 360-degree views of each item. On Facebook, the brand’s pay-to-play strategy made its “Rule Yourself” Olympics campaign videos the two most-watched on the platform among all Activewear brands.
The only Index brand to automate customer service on Facebook by means of a Messenger chatbot, Adidas’s social media dominance extends across both major and emerging platforms. The brand also successfully transfers advanced site capabilities to mobile, including alerts for out-of-stock items and mobile-optimized product customization.
4. L.L. Bean
The outdoors retailer leads the Index in omnichannel, with real-time inventory on product pages and a loyalty program offering credit card integration and benefits beyond brand purchases. Furthermore, the brand accumulated over five million Pinterest followers by sharing photos of gift ideas, style guides, and lifestyle content alongside user-generated content.
5. The North Face
A strong paid strategy helps The North Face score some of the most-viewed Activewear videos on YouTube, cemented by cross-channel campaigns like the #Peak2Park competition, which sought UGC contributions in exchange for the chance to win prizes. The brand also drives users to its site with a PLA-focused paid search strategy, appearing on 15% of keywords across relevant categories.
REI captures the Index’s highest organic search visibility across multiple categories, complemented by investment in PLAs and AdWords. Additionally, the shopping-focused mobile app offers sophisticated features like find-in-store, barcode scanning, and account access through Touch ID login.
Lululemon has amassed a sizable following of devotees, as evidenced by the brand’s strong Pinterest performance. Those devotees also account for Lululemon’s popularity on Instagram, bolstered by a strategy of engaging highly localized brand ambassadors. Meanwhile, the brand scores the highest email read rate in the Index, supported by marketing techniques such as promoting in-store events and directing users to specific product pages.
Timberland registers the second-highest engagement on Facebook with relatively little spend, and expanded that reach with both early adoption of Snapchat and integration of Instagram Stories. The brand also masters branded search on the small screen, with expandable deep links in the first branded organic results and brand-owned paid ads that geolocate to the nearest stores.
Vans dominates Instagram, generating eight times the engagement of the average brand, driven by posts highlighting both signature products and brand ambassadors. The brand also generates high site traffic through a combination of web advertising and SEO/SEM efforts.
10. New Balance
New Balance’s recently implemented omnichannel capabilities on desktop translate seamlessly to its responsively designed mobile site, including features such as a geolocator that helps drive shoppers to stores. Once they’re ready to make a purchase, the MyNB Loyalty Program converts purchases and workouts into rewards points, which can be redeemed for shipping benefits and priority access to popular products.