The rise of athleisure and the entry of fashion brands into sportswear has created new competition for activewear brands. At the same time, demand has never been higher. Sales of sweatpants surpassed denim as a percentage of teen apparel purchases for the first time, presenting an opportunity for brands to connect with digitally savvy teens.
Vans – ranked 5th and Gifted in L2’s 2015 Sportswear Index – has set itself apart from peers with robust social media accounts and omnichannel features. All of these developments have been recent, as the brand boosted its Digital IQ 18% between our 2014 and 2015 sportswear studies. Five areas in which Vans exudes digital competence:
Omnichannel: Savvy retailers are realizing that fulfillment is not about faster delivery, but about delivering at the right time. Not only is it cheaper for brands to pick up in-store, but many consumers prefer the convenience of ordering online and trying on in-store to avoid the hassle of returns or waiting for packages. Vans caters to that by showing in-store inventory online (one of eight Sportswear brands in the Index to do so) and displaying a persistent map of nearby stores based on the IP address.
Site Functionality: Vans relaunched its site in 2014, and the new site had a streamlined landing page and live chat. The brand has four of six search and navigation features evaluated in the Sportswear study. Its product pages have almost all product page features, missing just advanced fitting tools and product videos.
Social Media: Vans has the third largest Instagram accounts among Sportswear brands. It keeps fans engaged with frequents reposts from its sister accounts @vansskate, @vansbmx66, @vans.custom.culture, @vansgirls, and its Vans Music and Vans Warped Tour digital accounts. Its Warped Tour Facebook page boosted audience by 38% during January 2014 and 2015.
Content & Commerce: Vans doesn’t stop at creating content that resonates with fans; it is one of the leaders of linking sponsored and user-generated content to product pages. All athletes on the Vans page have a profile that includes a “related products” section complete with a quick-shop button that enables visitors to add items to cart without leaving the page. Vans leverages user-generated content from stylish female fans through its “Guest Editor Series,” which features 10-20 shoppable photos of the editor styling Vans products.
For more on the digital competence of 59 Sportswear brands, download a copy of L2’s 2015 Sportswear study.