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Discover the latest thoughts from the Amplience team and partners about Retail Engagement.

Athleisure Brands: How Do They Stack Up?

June 24th, 2016

Digital competence and the use of content has become more crucial than ever for retailers. A strong digital presence enables brands to effectively connect with shoppers, build trust and loyalty and ultimately improve the bottom line. The role of e-commerce, content and social media has changed significantly in recent years, and these tools have created both challenges and opportunities for retailers looking to improve their content use to stay ahead of competitors. Amplience’s Big Content Index (BCI) scores and compares leading brands on their digital content performance, looking at a wide swath of retail brands across sectors. Below is the second installment in Amplience’s BCI blog series, which offers a closer look at the use of content across specific areas of retail. While the first blog highlighted department stores, this piece will dive into athletic wear with a look at Amplience’s findings versus L2’s Digital IQ scores.

Big Content Index

Amplience focused on 16 global athletic brands and considered how well the companies did across five content dimensions: their use of editorial content, rich media, social media, user generated content (UGC) and guided selling. The final BCI score for each brand is a combination of results across all five areas. Amazingly, only the top three brands received a BCI score of more than 50 percent, which indicates significant room for content improvement across athletic brands.


It’s no secret that millennials are fiercely loyal to their favorite “athleisure” brands, with social media proving to be the best way to engage with the millennial generation. Therefore, it’s no surprise that top athletic brand Nike ranked highest in the social media category, scoring an impressive 87 percent. Many other brands, such as Lululemon, Patagonia, Fat Face, Nautica and Sweaty Betty, tied at 80 percent in the category. This indicates that many brands are using social smartly – linking to their channels from the website, posting a good mix of content, and making content shoppable.

Although it’s great to see brands harnessing social media to their advantage, it’s disappointing to see many retailers struggle with rich media and UGC. The average scores of 33 percent and 19 percent respectively are astonishingly low for athletic brands that are new to the market and focused on attracting a young demographic. Among the sampled brands, Under Armour scored the highest in rich media and Lululemon in UGC, whereas The North Face scored the lowest across both categories. While UGC and rich media remain relatively new forms for content use, the tools hold great potential for brands working to better engage with younger users and expand their brand presence across geographies without heavy content investments.

L2’s Take

Now let’s take a look at L2’s assessment of the space in their examination of 68 U.S. Activewear brands. L2 found that while athletic brands see ROI in digital marketing, social media, mobile and e-commerce, many frequently lag across benchmarks that could impact sales. For example, the report found that a measly 37 percent of “athleisure” brands post consistently to their social brand pages. Similarly, only 31 percent offer mobile apps that facilitate path to purchase from branded platforms. These statistics point to the wide gap in brands utilizing digital tools to impact their sales and engagement with customers.

L2 scored Nike with the highest Digital IQ score, with The North Face, Under Armour and adidas following closely behind. With a score of 148, Nike was number one for many reasons. The brand successfully curates shoppable looks on its site, uses rich media videos that offer full product menus and supports UGC with its Nike + Run Club mobile application. All of these digital tools help Nike engage with customers via their preferred method of communication and provide customers with a high-level experience across channels.

Athletic retailers Under Armour, The North Face and adidas can also be applauded for their social media strategies. Each brand understands the benefits of social channels and uses them to reach their tech-savvy clientele. The North Face, for example, is even experimenting with emerging social media platforms such as Periscope and Snapchat as a way to fuel customer communication.

On a surprising note, a recent L2 report focused on activewear brands operating in the UK scored adidas higher than Nike in overall Digital IQ rankings. Both, however received the “genius” status. Interestingly enough, Under Armour and The North Face did not score in the genius category in this report, but remained in the top 10 for highest Digital IQ’s.

Assessing Performance

What’s the big takeaway from our BCI assessment and L2’s Digital IQ of Athletic brands? Brands may be using digital tools to their advantage but they certainly could be doing a better job. While retailers are successfully building their brands from an e-commerce and omnichannel perspective, they are challenged with how to move them forward. Besides powerhouse brands such as Nike, Sweaty Betty and adidas, few smaller brands have overcome the big content and digital challenge. Innovative retailers know that their future success depends on the delivery of a high quality experience, and that means providing rich media content from all appropriate channels. The growing role of content in commerce may pose some challenges and hurdles for brands. However, if retailers can overcome these obstacles there are great rewards and opportunities which cannot be ignored.

To learn more, check out the Amplience Big Content Index, and get in touch to see how we can help your brand.

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*Check out more images from our customer, Sweaty Betty.

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