Monday, May 9, 2016

Athleisure is the New Black: 3 Ways to be Successful in the Athleisure Market

As fitness brand executives it is so important to stay up to date with the latest trends in the health and wellness space. Athleisure, casual clothing meant to be worn from gym to street, is taking over the fitness and fashion space and has become much more than just a fad. As an undergraduate at Northwestern University in the Integrated Marketing Communications program with a great interest in this fitness fashion trend, I have found two articles that explore this growing market and provide some very interesting insights.
Hiroko Tabuchi at the New York Times highlights the fact that the athleisure trend has become a $97 billion market. Everyone from the big athletic brands such as Adidas and Nike, to boutique brands to mass market retailers like H&M to luxury brands like Louis Vuitton are getting in on the athleisure trend. Tabuchi expresses concern that the influx of athleisure clothing and accessories may be too much for the market to handle, as lots of athleisure brands have reported slowing growth and sales. Matt Powell, a sports industry analyst at the NPD group, voices this same concern that are lots of brands in the space and not all can survive. One thing seems to be clear, uniqueness is the key to success for the brands in this space. With so many mat-to-street brands out there all vying for the attention of this new hip, health-obsessed population, it is important for brands to stand out if they want to survive.
Greg Petro at Forbes, talks about how athletic-casual wear, athleisure, is becoming more acceptable to wear in places other than the gym. Many argue that athleisure is just a fad, especially among millennials, but Petro argues that it is “here to stay” and that investors should be paying attention. He explains that the rise of fitness-conscious consumers, who view fitness as a lifestyle, as well as the growing desire for comfortable clothing make athleisure a sustainable market rather than a fad. The athleisure market is growing and investors will be making a mistake if they do not look into these brands as growth opportunities.
From these two articles here are the three action items to note:
·      athleisure brands need to stand out in a sea of similar brands if they want to survive, especially the newer boutique brands
·      athleisure brands need to focus on connecting with consumers to build brand loyalty
·      investors should research and invest in the athleisure market, as it is an influential and increasingly growing market
Overall the take away message seems pretty clear: Stand Out or Get Knocked Out.

Jessica Franks is a senior psychology and Integrated Marketing Communications student who will graduate in June 2016. Reach her at @jessbessfranks and

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