As consumer interest in wellness and experiences increases, activewear brands are able to tap into a broader base of potential shoppers. At the same time, the structural decline of wholesale partners has stunted the growth of the main distribution channels of most activewear brands.
Amid these shifting dynamics, the bar is rising quickly. Beyond buzzy experiential pop-ups, brands must ensure enduring relevance and cohesiveness between channels. The top ten brands in Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear are redesigning digital experiences around newness, prioritizing their women’s businesses, and redefining loyalty.
Digital IQ: 145
Nike nabs first place in this year’s index after checking all the boxes across site, social media, digital, and mobile performances. The label laces NikePlus membership benefits throughout its site and integrates newness directly into primary navigation, helping it receive the most traffic out of all tracked brands. On social media, it captured the highest number of YouTube views out of all tracked brands while its Instagram interactions increased by 150% year over year. Finally, Nike took it up a notch on mobile by incorporating instant in-store check-out into its shopping app and introducing commerce into its Nike Training and Nike Run Club guided workout apps.
Digital IQ: 142
Adidas arms itself with a newly-launched loyalty program, activity-based site navigation and customer service that highlights sports-specific considerations, like ground surface and shoe technology. Its streetwear collaborations contribute to high search visibility (‘Adidas Bape’ was among 2018’s most searched streetwear keywords) while its social media partnerships with Donald Glover, Pharrell, and Beyoncé contributed to Instagram success.
3. The North Face
Digital IQ: 141
The North Face rules on mobile thanks to a strong shopping app experience with optimized live chat, buy online, pickup in store and loyalty integrated throughout product pages. The brand effectively leverages new content forms on Instagram. For example, it creates IGTV-specific content and uses Highlights to extend content shelf life, featuring brand ambassadors and streetwear collaborations.
Digital IQ: 135
A sophisticated store locator that displays links to book in-store events, classes, and outings helps REI connect with customers through convenience. The brand maintains the second-largest email list size in the index and utilizes thoughtful segmentation for consistently high open rates. Additionally, its investment in YouTube tutorial video content leads to high search visibility on non-branded queries, such as “how to filter water” and “how to clean a tent”.
5. Under Armour
Digital IQ: 133
Under Armour gets a leg up on Instagram, where its total interactions increased by 68% to 33 million thanks for new, daily IGTV content from featured fitness influencers. The brand is also testing free buy online, pickup in store and store inventory integration on product pages and elevating influencer editorials and sizing guides on category pages.
Digital IQ: 132
Vans continues to maintain one of the strongest site experiences with intuitive search and navigation and robust product merchandising. After power duo Nike and Adidas, it’s the #3 performer on social media and integrates its loyalty programs with its mobile apps to extend and personalize the experience.
Digital IQ: 131
As one of the six brands forming the women’s cohort in activewear, Lululemon has steadily increased its digital IQ over the years. The brand has had innovative approach to the in-store experience from the get-go, having offered free in-store alterations since 2010. Additionally, by including curated in-store events in its recently launched loyalty offering, Lululemon bolsters its program by leveraging existing strengths and practices regular community-building on social media.
Digital IQ: 127
Patagonia has capitalized on the outdoor category to cultivate successful search strategies. As such, the brand exhibits the highest text ad visibility out of its peers, serving an ad on nearly a third of non-branded outdoor terms, and appears organically against more than 60% of non-branded outdoor terms. It also has the highest shopping ad visibility, owning a shopping ad against almost 80% of nonbranded outdoor keywords.
Digital IQ: 126
Timberland comes though with strong paid and organic Google search visibility on unbranded keywords. It also touts one of the best mobile sites out of all tracked brands, especially when it comes to customer service and m-commerce checkout.
10. New Balance
Digital IQ: 124
New Balance succeeds by integrating its loyalty program into its mobile app. The brand also improved digital marketing performance since last year, especially in email marketing and paid search visibility.