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Gone are the days when sneakers were worn solely for the purpose of walking or running. Ever since Athleisure took the spotlight, functional / purpose-based apparel and footwear have become a common sight outside sports in mainstream leisure.
This blog post looks at the athletic footwear industry landscape, growth factors, key players, and how they differ in terms of performance metrics such as traffic, channel presence, and social engagement.
The athletic footwear market segment includes shoes specifically designed for sports purposes (e.g., basketball, baseball, tennis, etc.). Besides footwear for sports, there are other categories such as athleisure, work and safety shoes, and ski boots. We're keeping the latter ones out of the analysis for the blog.
The global athletic footwear market is worth an estimated USD 76.48 billion in 2022 and is growing at a CAGR of 4.67%. It is projected to be worth USD 100.48 billion in 2028. The industry is growing due to increasing demand from fitness-conscious customers, gym-goers, and athletic footwear use during fitness routines.
APAC is the fastest-growing region (40% of global GMV) for athletic footwear, thanks mainly to the sheer size of the growing population that is participating in outdoor sports and fitness activities, which is fueling demand for specific kinds of sports shoes. Moreover, the price points of athletic footwear in this region are relatively more affordable than those in developed nations like the US or the UK. As a result, India and China are the fastest-growing markets.
North America and Europe follow the lead with a 30% and 25% contribution to overall GMV respectively. This can be credited to the people having a greater interest in sporting, adventure and fitness activities in these regions.
At $22.9 Billion GMV, the US is the largest contributor to athletic footwear in North America.
The segment accounts for about 33% of the overall footwear category’s GMV in the US but is growing much faster than footwear itself!
We can slice the athletic footwear market into Sports, Aerobic/Gym, Running/Walking and Hiking/Trekking based on activity. By volume, the highest number of shoes sold were attributed to the Running and Walking sub-segment due to the daily usage and wide variety of choices available at affordable price points, followed by Sports, Aerobic/Gym, and finally Hiking/Trekking.
The sports shoe segment can further be segmented on the basis of sport into baseball, football, basketball, etc. In the US, baseball shoes contributed to more than 35% of overall athletic footwear by volume due to the high popularity of the sport.
Men’s athletic footwear accounts for 60% of the industry’s GMV, followed by Women’s (25%) and Kids’ (15%). Unlike the traditional athletic apparel and footwear industry, the activewear industry (influenced by the athleisure trend) has larger mindshare among women.
Let's quickly deep dive in to the industry analysis.
There is a general rising awareness about the health benefits of sports and fitness activities and how they can help in reducing the risks of illnesses like depression, diabetes, obesity, etc. In fact, Obesity is a major health issue in developed countries, such as the US and Europe, with one out of three persons being obese. So it doesn’t come as a surprise that the regional populace is focused on activities such as yoga, gym, and jogging.
In the developing countries, an increase in disposable income, growing youth population, and rapidly spreading awareness about health, fitness, and sporting events, is fueling the demand for comfortable, innovative and affordable athletic products.
People are also increasingly realizing the importance of using appropriate types of shoes for sports activities in order to prevent muscle injuries, leg injuries, knee pain, hip pain, and back pain. As a result, the demand for athletic shoes is expected to register a surge in the coming years.
Rising prices of raw materials, counterfeiting of goods and competition from Athleisure brands are noteworthy challenges. In fact, NPD says that athleisure accounts for roughly 50% of all athletic footwear sales and only 16% of people who bought sports footwear in the year ending April 2019 were intending to wear them for sports!
In some countries, growing levels of the geriatric population are expected to restrain the growth of the market.
The middle-class population is generally price-sensitive in nature, which may bring down overall revenue. There’s a chance this can be offset by the growing income levels and fitness populace in APAC.
Nike is clearly the market leader of the athletic footwear market. In the US, it has a market share of 36%. Jordan and Converse, both owned by Nike, are among the top players too, with a market share of 16% and 3.5% respectively. Therefore, Nike’s total share of the market is almost 56%!
It has consistently focused on market penetration by launching innovative sports footwear for its varied consumer base. Moreover, the company has focused on strengthening its foothold in developing countries such as India and China by launching products at affordable prices.
Per PipeCandy’s estimates, there are over 38,000 brands that sell athletic footwear online.
Of these 38,000+ brands, we analyzed a sample of 4,000 brands to see how they are distributed by Web Sales, Shopping Cart and Shipping Volume.
At Least 95% of the brands make <1M in web sales!
58% of the brands ship fewer than 100 orders a year, reflecting that the majority of the brands are long-tail, up and coming brands that are yet to make their mark in the athletic footwear scene.
A little more than 30% of the brands operate their stores on Shopify.
Apart from the sample of 4,000 brands, we also picked out the key players that are being spoken about online and classified them into Legacy, Top, and Local brands based on their revenue and scale of international presence.
Then, we analyzed their key performance metrics such as Web traffic, Dwell time on the website, Share of mobile web traffic, and Instagram engagement rates, among other things.
The global athletic footwear market is predicted to be worth USD 100.48 billion by 2028, at the current CAGR of 4.67%. The APAC market is hot; China and India in particular, two countries with the largest millennial demographic, are emerging as athletic footwear hotspots. Growth in developed countries is slowing down, due to competition from emerging D2C brands such as All birds, rising price points of athletic footwear due to inflated costs of raw materials, and counterfeiting issues - remember Nike pulling out of Amazon? Sales expansion through online channels, innovative product drops/launches, improvements in manufacturing tech that have reduced the time to market and attractive marketing and promotional strategies adopted by companies continue to contribute to the growth of the athletic footwear market.
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