sportswear industry germany

What Sportswear Brands' Messaging Tells us About the Market During Covid-19

Launchmetrics Content Team

Covid-19 has reshaped the way that the global population lives their lives, with people staying at home and large sporting events being canceled or put on hold for the foreseeable future. But, what does this mean for the sportswear industry, as brands miss out on key promotional platforms they would usually use to push their products? In this article, we explore what current messaging from sportswear brands can tell us about the state of the market today. 

What do Sportswear Brands' Messaging Tells us About the Market During Covid-19?

Nike, Adidas, and Puma are just a few of the sportswear industry giants that have acted fast and have already adopted their new direct-to-consumer strategies. These range from social selling on Instagram or e-commerce services, to an increase in the number of apps suited to the new homebound lifestyle. While buying new, fashionable, or ‘on-trend’ clothing is not necessary a high priority now, self-care is. 

UK retailer John Lewis reported a 72% uplift in online sales of sports shoes and a 315% increase in sales of yoga equipment in the last six weeks since the beginning of lockdown on March 24th. Sales of gym equipment exploded by 496%, with adjustable ankle weights from Reebok being a bestseller. Consumers clearly spend more time now at their homes exercising, and sports brands have shifted their promotional messaging accordingly, having more in common with public-service-announcements and the #stayathome sentiment. 


Nike created a text ad that reads: “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world.” Several of Nike’s high-profile athletes including golfer Tiger Woods and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo (who, being the world’s highest-paid athlete, has accepted pay cuts by his home club Juventus in the light of Covid-19) shared posts of themselves playing inside and wearing a Nike sweatshirt displaying the message. The worldwide campaign started on March 21st and resulted in 700K likes and 7Kcomments on Instagram alone. 


View this post on Instagram


Now more than ever, we are one team.⠀ #playinside #playfortheworld

A post shared by Nike (@nike) on

Leveraging the right Voices pays off when brands know how to work with the opinion leaders who matter to their core audience.  In early February, German retailer, About You announced their co-branded campaign with Nike, featuring influencer Stefanie Giesinger as a campaign face. According to Launchmetrics’ analysis, 30 contributions were published as part of the campaign by February 16, 24 on social networks, six on other online media including Glamour and FashionNetwork. These contributions generated a MIV® of $227K. Giesinger achieved the greatest impact: The former participant of "Germany’s Next Top Model" announced her collaboration on February 5 with a post to her almost four million Instagram followers. This post alone generated a MIV® of $107K. 


Another global sportswear brand in the industry that has not paused their social media messaging in the last few weeks is Adidas. In the first week of April, Adidas launched the global #hometeam campaign in response to the coronavirus outbreak - a hub for at-home fitness routines, classes and inspirational messages from athletes like Olympic skier Mikaela Shiffrin, football players Toni Kroos, David Alaba, and Christopher Trimmel, model and influencer Lena Gercke, as well as sprint ace Gina Lückenkemper and beach volleyball player Laura Ludwig. The idea was to give their fans access and an insight into the homes of featured players and role models. They show how they can use their time at home creatively, keep fit, learn new things, and rediscover old hobbies. Talents emerge that might be previously unknown to everyone: Christopher Trimmel, for example, lets his creativity run free on the canvas; David Alaba and Lena Gercke play the piano.

“For us, it presents a unique opportunity where we had a bit more access to our athletes … in fun and creative ways that are really giving our consumers the ability to experience those athletes in a really different way than they have before,” said Emily Maxey, a VP Global Marketing for Adidas, in her statement for BoF

CEO Kasper Rorsted called the campaign their “most effective ever” at engaging consumers. The campaign has used 60% of its global assets, according to the company’s quarterly results release, and introduced new ideas and content every day. Adidas also states the coronavirus outbreak has accelerated a shift to digital, both in terms of its marketing and sales. Ecommerce sales were up 35% in the first quarter, 55% in March and up to triple digits at the beginning of April, as more countries went into lockdown.


Puma asked fans to share photos of themselves keeping fit while practicing social distancing. Simultaneously, the sportswear industry favourite has asked its sponsored athletes such as footballer Luis Suarez to encourage people to stay at home. The recent campaign features model Cara Delevigne practicing yoga at home via Instagram live chat with 12 million followers of the brand. The announced post alone generated over 80K views. The company stated that in terms of business, both wholesale and retail channels were significantly impacted by the store closures instructed by local authorities around the globe. However, the sales in e-commerce grew around 40% in the first quarter of this year. 


View this post on Instagram


A post shared by PUMA (@puma) on

To sum up, Covid-19 might actually make brands in the sportswear industry a 'middle-man' between athletes and sports fans, creating the missing link in the new customer’s journey full of social messaging and well-being goals. If you would like to understand how to create the perfect collaboration during Covid, click on the banner below. 

sportswear industry

Let's talk about it Share with us your experience and opinion on the subjects by filling the form below.