Some of the world’s most iconic and best-known brands are sneaker brands. Adidas, Nike, and New Balance, to name but a few, are all household names. Typically promoted by pro-athletes and celebrities and often positioned as both sportswear and streetwear, many sneaker brands are increasingly becoming associated with high fashion, too.
In short, these brands are extremely successful.
In 2021, the Nike brand was valued at approximately 30.44 billion U.S. dollars. With its sneakers worn by some of the world’s most famous sportspeople and pop stars, its brand has evolved from a specialist shoemaker to a sports retailer to the giant within the fashion and apparel industry that it is today.
Of course, we’re well aware of the top sneaker brands — but what about those that are less well-known? How do they measure up against the industry leaders, brand performance-wise?
In this article, we’ll take a closer look at how these lesser-known brands are stacking up against the top sneaker brands using brand awareness and brand consideration — as well as how these brands are performing between males and females and how income level affects the brand’s perception.
Top Sneaker Brands and the General Population
First, let's examine aided brand awareness and take a look at how the top 6 global sneaker brands are being perceived across the general population.
Nike dominates the aided brand awareness results with a clean 100% recognizing this brand, followed closely by Adidas at 99%. Then comes Puma at 96%, New Balance and Vans at 88%, followed by Asics at 51%. K Swiss comes in at 41% and Saucony lands at the bottom, with only 25% reporting brand awareness.
The remaining top sneaker brands included Mizuno (16%), Allbirds (5%), On Running (3%), Atoms (3%), Arkk (2%), and Greats (2%).
But how well do these levels of awareness translate into consideration? How many consumers would consider purchasing a product from one of these brands? At the top again is Nike, with a score of 70 %, followed closely by Adidas at 52%.
New Balance ranks third with 30%, followed by Puma, which 26% of consumers would consider purchasing from.
Sneaker Brands and Gender
Understanding your target audience and how they perceive your brand is key to unlocking its true potential. So, while looking at awareness levels for the general population can be useful to see how successfully your brand is breaking through the noise and making an impact on consumers when tracking your brand’s performance, it’s essential to look at target groups that are important to your business and measure how your brand is resonating with them.
While it's possible to go much deeper than gender, this can be a useful way of quickly segmenting your target audience — especially if your brand has product ranges aimed exclusively at men or women. So with the next round of data, let’s discuss how the top sneaker brands perform among male and female consumers.
Men’s Brand Awareness
For consumers who identify as men, Nike tops the aided brand awareness ranking at 99%, followed closely by Adidas at 98%, Puma at 94%, New Balance in fourth place at 88%, followed by Vans at 87%, and then Asics at 50%.
Men’s Brand Consideration
Let’s take a look at how sneaker brands perform among male consumers regarding brand consideration. Our data does show some significant differences:
Here Nike and Adidas again take the top two positions (at 69% and 52%, respectively) with New Balance behind at 30% and Puma in fourth place with 25%.
Women’s Brand Awareness
Nike has made substantial investments to conquer the sportswear market for both men and women. In fact, some of the brand’s most memorable campaigns have been created specifically to target women — with examples like their “Dream Crazier” campaign, a Nike film narrated by legendary tennis star and brand ambassador Serena Williams, as well as their successful “She Runs The Night” series of global running events aimed at women.
It’s, therefore, no surprise that Nike dominates when it comes to aided brand awareness among female consumers, with 100% of respondents able to recognize their brand.
Adidas also scores a perfect 100% in brand awareness among women, while Puma scores a strong 99%. Vans comes in fourth place with 89% recognizing the brand, while New Balance achieves 88%. Beyond these front runners came Asics (78%), K-Swiss (50%), and Saucony (35%).
Women’s Brand Consideration
Let’s take a look at how these levels of brand awareness translate into brand consideration for consumers who identify as women.
Nike once again topped out at 69%, with Adidas not far behind with 53% — and despite lower overall awareness, New Balance overtakes Puma with a consideration score of 31% behind Puma’s 27%.
For both men and women, it’s pretty clear that sneaker brands are able to command extremely high levels of awareness and strong levels of purchase consideration. In particular, brands like Nike and Adidas can be regarded as some of the strongest around — even outside of their category — simply because they have a broad appeal across age groups and demographics.
Sneaker Brands and Income
Let’s take a look at how sneaker brands perform when taking income into consideration. Understanding your consumer’s level of income can give you valuable insights into how to position your sneaker brand in the market. And alongside gender, is a useful segment type that can provide interesting insights on the best ways to grow your brand.
Looking at the results, we’d expect to see significant changes in the aided brand awareness and brand consideration as we compared high-, medium- and low-income levels of data — particularly considering the pricing point of the top sneaker brands.
Again, Nike performed strongly across all income levels. It ranked 98% across both high and medium incomes and dropped only to 94% in the low-income category. Nike, therefore, topped the aided brand awareness data across all three income cohorts!
Adidas followed a similar trend, ranking second (and closely behind Nike) across all three income levels.
For the chosen brands’ consideration levels, it also followed a similar pattern across all three income levels. Again Nike ranked top, followed closely by Adidas and New Balance. Greats, Asics, and Arkk ranked in the same order to round off the top six.
Overall, the data we’ve gathered indicates there was only a small difference in ranking across all income levels.
It’s a result that suggests that, across the general population, these brands are important to consumers — and that a good pair of sneakers are likely to appear on the shopping lists of a majority of consumers.
This should come as no surprise, given the cultural dominance of these types of brands. Nike and Adidas, in particular, have helped to influence culture through a mixture of ad campaigns, sports sponsorships, and brand collaborations to make their products essential to consumers.
The sneaker category, and the larger apparel and fashion industry, is a dynamic sector that demands brands constantly keep on top of new trends. While it’s dominated by stalwarts like Nike and Adidas, it’s also a competitive market that can offer surprising opportunities to new challengers.
And while it may not be possible right now to topple the combined power of the Swoosh and the 3 Stripes, there’s plenty of room to grow a successful sneaker brand. All it takes is a strong understanding of your target audience.
Updated by: Ash Lightfoot on 05.08.22