Is your apparel brand getting a workout? Growth in the fitness market is being driven by a universal movement toward a more casual style. Even clothing retailers grounded in other categories are expanding their lines to include sport-casual pieces to take advantage of the “athleisure” and lifestyle marketing trend that’s winning with consumers. In 2014, active wear sales equaled $33.7 billion, representing 16% of the $206.3 billion in apparel sales. And it seems that it’s not only fitness enthusiasts that are hyping this trend, 38% of consumers surveyed said they purchased workout gear as casual daywear.
Research indicates that young adults aged 18-34 and affluent consumers are most likely to buy fitness apparel. In fact, their contribution to the fitness apparel sales has allowed the market to grow at a faster pace than the overall apparel segment in the past two years.
Comfy Casual Is IN!
Women aren’t just wearing yoga pants to exercise class anymore, but as a staple casualwear item. They’re seeking versatile fitness apparel because it can be worn day-to-day in a way that reflects their busy, multitasking lifestyles. Fashion and athletic clothing brands are competing for the top spot in the market, and continue to experiment with new patterns, fabrics, technology, and styles to stay relevant and trendy. When marketing to women, it’s important to remember that when they are seeking fitness wear, consumers cite comfort, functional/performance wear, and durability as the most important factors.
Where and How are Fitness Consumers Shopping?
95% of all fitness clothing sales are made in-store, while only 56% of consumers have made these purchases online. Research indicates that women still prefer to shop for clothing in brick-and-mortar stores because they prefer the tactile experience of touching the clothing and trying on apparel in-store. However, as women find consistency in fit with their favorite brands, online fitness clothing purchases will most likely increase as well. The classic t-shirt is still the most commonly purchased athletic clothing item, and the consumer threshold on items such as the t-shirt, tank top, or shorts is less than $30. These items are bought more frequently than specialized apparel, and almost always in-store, but the second most purchased item in this segment is fitness pants.
Tech + Fitness = Style
The introduction of fitness trackers like FitBit, Nike’s Fuel Band, and now the Apple Watch have created a demand for fitness accessories that look stylish while monitoring health. Designers are tapping this market with upscale accessories that marry technology with fashion. Likewise, apparel manufacturers are breaking into this market—look for advances in smart apparel that work with smartphones to track performance in real time.
The Future of Fitness and Lifestyle Marketing
It appears that wearing fitness apparel and accessories has inspired women to get back into the gym—creating a halo effect on the exercise industry as a whole. America’s fitness industry is now a $24 billion dollar business and is forecast to grow 23% over the next ten years. During 2014, there was growth in gym memberships, renewed interest in sports such as spinning and obstacle-course style races, and measured growth in gym memberships across all age groups. Apparel manufacturers can capitalize on this exploding market by offering specialized styles for growing sports categories, as well as plus-sized options, another growing segment of the market.
The growing athleisure segment offers the potential for fashion brands to get into the fitness game. Women’s Marketing will help your brand win in this category with a strategic media plan that scores with consumers and when marketing to women. Contact us today to get started.
Sources: Mintel – Fitness Clothing – October 2014; NPD