The activewear sector is a bright spot in the lackluster apparel and footwear market. However, growth in the sector is constrained by weak gains in wholesale retail channels. Amidst these changing dynamics, activewear brands have shifted their focus to driving growth and higher margins through vertical retail and direct-to-consumer e‑commerce. The top ten brands in L2’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear comprise a shakeup of traditional winners and the continued rise of the new guard of women’s‑focused brands.
Digital IQ: 140
Adidas aces e-commerce with content-rich pre-release and product launch pages. In addition to supporting cross-selling at checkout, the brand site features video and user-generated content and supports live inventory on product pages. The corporation made substantial investments on YouTube for campaigns like “Calling All Creators” and “Original Is Never Finished,” which accounted for seven of the top ten most viewed videos in this year’s ranking. Adidas rounds out its success with well-run mobile product pages that offer Complete-the-Look, minus the disruptive browsing experience.
Digital IQ: 138
Despite achieving the most site traffic, Nike fell from Genius status due to lagging investments in other areas. Category pages lack quick view, and on-model views are limited on product pages. Regardless of this, the brand still earned the highest organic visibility against unbranded performance and lifestyle footwear searches and boasts the largest email list among tracked brands as well as outsized engagement across social platforms.
3. Under Armour
Digital IQ: 137
Under Armour succeeds on social media, earning the second-highest average engagement rate on Instagram. Additionally, the brand improved its organic visibility against performance apparel keywords and substantially increased investments in video display advertising. Though the brand trails behind its peers in mobile shopping and visibility against unbranded queries, Under Armour’s mobile web display advertising remains a bright spot in its digital portfolio.
4. L.L. Bean
Digital IQ: 135
L.L. Bean earns the highest shopping ad visibility against technical footwear and apparel queries. The retail brand made great strides in social media with 30% growth in its Instagram community. Additionally, it fosters Facebook engagement by promoting college ambassador and user-generated content. While L.L. Bean conquered omnichannel with strong offerings including Reserve Online and Pick Up in Store, stalled site investments contributed to its fall from Genius to Gifted.
Digital IQ: 134
REI leads on Facebook, earning the most interactions thanks to significant post promotion. A robust loyalty program communicates early access and experiential perks on a dedicated sign-up page, and REI’s mobile app offers features like Buy Online and Pick Up in Store.
Digital IQ: 134
Heavy investment in product video promotion resulted in outsized engagement on Facebook. Timberland took this a step further by also featuring links to relevant product pages. Lastly, the brand made gains on social media by rapidly embracing shoppable Instagram posts.
Digital IQ: 130
Patagonia plays up its emails with personalization features like curated feeds of recommended products or collections and discounts, contributing to the fourth-highest email open rate among tracked brands. Additionally, shorter subject lines resulted in higher open rates for the outdoors-focused brand.
8. The North Face
Digital IQ: 129
The brand’s best-in-class e-commerce app supports loyalty tracking, while strong mobile shopping ad visibility against lifestyle and performance keywords further assisted The North Face in obtaining its spot in this year’s top 10. The brand also features a barcode scanner for in-store use and adopted quick view functionality and mouseover for alternate views on its website, feeding content from product pages into the browsing experience.
9. New Balance
Digital IQ: 128
New Balance’s mobile site outperforms its peers due to investments in additional expedited payment options and a new click-to-call store agent feature on product pages. Additionally, the corporation enables single-click email signup and offers customization options such as activity preferences and fitness app integration within its initial welcome email.
Digital IQ: 127
Superb filtering and sorting options, including filter by online-only, help Vans slide into this year’s ranking. Content-rich men’s and women’s category pages are among the highest viewed site pages out of all tracked brands thanks to gender-specific loyalty calls to action, a best-selling assortment, and shoppable user-generated content. Vans further bolsters these features with its organic Google search results, which include internal links to its gender-specific category pages.