The U.S. sports apparel industry is expected to grow to $130 billion by 2025, up from $98.9 billion in 2021, according to Statista. However, while long-term growth is anticipated, shoppers may be more selective about the brands they buy in the near term due to uncertain economic conditions. According to Forrester’s research, a majority of adults in the U.S. (64%) are anxious about the possibility of a recession in the near future. The research also suggests that consumers may reconcile their fiscal caution by being highly selective about which brands and experiences to patronize. According to insight from McKinsey, shoppers’ particularity may also be why 90% of shoppers switched brands YOY (2021 versus 2020). Taken together, the findings signal that recent uncertain economic conditions may be impacting shoppers’ decisions to consider which brands to buy.
In response, while keeping long-term growth in mind, sportswear brands are focusing on adopting new marketing strategies such as promotional marketing, advertising campaigns and celebrity brand endorsement for sports apparel, according to a Fact. M.R. report.
With so many shoppers switching brands and long-term growth anticipated, it has become essential for brands to continue reaching new sportswear shoppers. To do this, brands can develop tactics that drive awareness and drive consideration to help inform purchase decisions during key shopping moments—such as gifting holidays, for example—and drive revenue growth.
“Sportswear shoppers are engaged year-round, but there are moments when brands can connect with audiences where we see spikes in purchases occur,” said Amy Zappia, head of sports and outdoor ads at Amazon Ads. “Advertisers can focus on reaching new shoppers in advance of moments they’re likely to purchase sportswear.”
Understanding new sportswear shoppers
According to a Kantar sportswear custom survey from February 2022 in the U.S., 51% of sportswear shoppers do not plan on changing their sportswear spending in the next year. With shoppers hesitant to spend more on sportswear, it is even more critical for brands to reach new sportswear shoppers to help bolster their bottom lines.
“Brands can create valuable and delightful shopping experiences for both new and existing sportswear loyalists,” Zappia explained. “To drive growth, brands must maintain their current loyal shoppers while also increasing awareness among new customers.”
However, brands need to be strategic when establishing loyalty among sportswear shoppers. According to the same February 2022 Kantar survey, 59% of sportswear shoppers said they switch brands between purchases, while 66% are undecided on which brand or product to purchase prior to starting their shopping journeys. Since sportswear shoppers are likely to switch brands, there is an opportunity for brands to drive discovery.
“Upper-funnel tactics — including Streaming TV, video ads, Sponsored Brand’s video, Sponsored Display and Audio ads — can be used to reach new-to-brand shoppers through education and awareness, which helps new sportswear shoppers consider brands they might not have considered before,” said Zappia.
Timing is also a critical consideration, ensuring that advertisers can reach consumers during their active shopping cycles. According to Amazon Ads insights, several audiences with shopping windows of various lengths are likely to enter the sportswear category at different times of the year.
Sportswear shoppers spend, on average, 14–15 days from first browse to purchase in the Amazon store, according to Amazon insights. However, women’s sportswear shoppers have a longer shopping window (19–20 days) than men’s (9–10 days) and kids’ (7–8 days) sportswear shoppers. It is important to keep the timing of branded messages in mind to reach audiences during periods they’re highly receptive during their purchase journeys.
As for seasonality, men’s sportswear shoppers are more likely to enter sportswear categories in November–December, according to Amazon insights. This may indicate they are more likely to be driven by tentpole moments, such as the holidays, as reflected in their shorter shopping window. Women’s sportswear shoppers may be more likely to enter sportswear categories in the first half of the year (January–June), indicating that they may be more likely to be driven by New Year’s resolutions and spring wardrobe refreshes.
“Advertisers can focus on reaching new shoppers in advance of moments they’re likely to purchase sportswear. For example, New Year’s is an ideal high-entry moment as shoppers may be thinking about updating their wardrobes in anticipation of their new fitness resolutions,” Zappia said. “Therefore, it is valuable for sportswear brands to create incremental marketing strategies around these types of events to ensure they are connecting with relevant audiences at highly visible moments across consumers’ shopping journeys. These high-entry moments are a time to implement a full-funnel strategy to get messaging out at scale — reaching both new and existing customers.”
How brands are engaging new sportswear shoppers
Sportswear brands that adopt a holistic strategy are better positioned to inform shoppers’ purchase decisions, particularly when engaging with sportswear shoppers in a variety of channels to drive consideration across their shopping journeys.
According to the Kantar sportswear custom survey, sportswear shoppers who engaged with Amazon services or devices were more likely to discover a new brand leading up to their sportswear purchase. For example, sportswear shoppers reported they were 1.4x more likely to discover a new brand when engaging with Twitch leading up to their sportswear purchase. The data suggests that engaging audiences with brand messaging across a variety of channels can be beneficial for informing shopper purchases.
Additionally, brands that leverage multiple solution strategies to engage sportswear shoppers are better able to drive growth. According to an internal Amazon study, the median brand within a group of advertisers that adopted four advertising products saw a 14% increase in new-to-brand customer growth from March 2021 to February 2022.
“Advertising solutions such as video and display can be extremely effective for reaching new shoppers, but Amazon Ads solutions work better when layered with audience-first strategies to help reach new customers,” explained Zappia. “For example, sportswear brands can effectively reach new shoppers, such as customers in-market for athletic apparel and shoes, while omitting current shoppers of that brand. When this audience-specific reach is combined with an offering or service such as Amazon Streaming TV ads, it allows sportswear brands to use both video and display to reach new sportswear shoppers at scale, ensuring impressions effectively reach new-to-brand sportswear shoppers.”
While upper-funnel tactics like streaming TV are effective ways to reach shoppers, brands can further their efforts by incorporating upper-funnel strategies into a full-funnel approach. An internal Amazon Ads analysis revealed that audiences reached by full-funnel strategies had higher detail page view rates and purchase rates than those who were reached by mid-lower funnel strategies or upper-funnel strategies alone.
“It’s important for brands to understand how these audiences engage at each stage of the funnel,” Zappia said. “We have learned that customers who view video ads are more likely to make a purchase compared to customers who only view a display ad. The ideal scenario is to engage with customers during multiple touchpoints throughout their shopping experience so brands can remain top of mind.”
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