Nike and Adidas’s grip on the women’s athletic shoe market appears to have loosened a bit.

Matt Powell, Senior Sports Industry Advisor for The NPD Group Inc., revealed on Twitter this morning that Nike and Adidas divested shares to Skechers, Brooks, Vans and other leading brands in the first half of 2021. Speaking to FN, the industry insider explained that these brands ascenders seduce women in several ways.

“In the case of Brooks, [the brand] wins with running performance, continuing to take part in it. They have a great product, great marketing, and they’ve judiciously expanded their distribution to places where women buy their shoes, ”Powell told FN. “For Skechers, you have a brand that is coming back to favor after a few years of drifting, and it has had a huge part of the women’s business. And Vans, they had some inventory issues, but they fixed that, and their female business has always been a big part of their overall business.

According to the NPD retail tracking service, women’s athletic shoes grew 40% in the first half of 2021 compared to the same period in 2020.

Meanwhile, the market has overtaken Nike and Adidas, which recorded sales increases of 30% and 28%, respectively. Meanwhile, the NPD retail sales tracking service revealed a 48% sales increase for Skechers, Brooks and Vans.

Beyond those companies, Powell said two of 2020’s most notable brands – Hoka One One and On – are also doing particularly well with women buying athletic shoes.


Vans Twill Sk8-Hi 2.0 platform.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Vans

Just as varied as the reasons why other brands are gaining ground are the reasons for Nike and Adidas’ downturn in women’s athletic shoes.

For Nike, Powell said this is where the brand is focused.

“Nike relies very heavily on really iconic products like 270, Air Force 1, Max franchises, and it has worked for them. But she’s looking for a wider variety of products, whether it’s a shoe she’s going to run in or simple fashion shoes like Vans or Skechers, ”said Powell.

As for Adidas, the problem lies in the delivery of shoes that do not reach the masses.

“Adidas doesn’t play in too many categories to begin with, and the brand is also shedding shares in men. It’s more about the product they are bringing to the United States is not the right product, and you can see in the overall numbers that they continue to follow the market, ”Powell said.

The market analyst believes that the warming of several competitors should cause concern among industry giants.

“Both [Nike and Adidas] have publicly stated that they are betting on women’s business to be a growth category for them. And as the business grows, it just isn’t growing as quickly as with the smaller brands, so they have some catching up to do, ”said Powell.


Brooks Women

A group of Brooks employees for the “Women of Brooks” campaign.

CREDIT: Courtesy of Brooks

For Nike, the brand he should have an eye on is Brooks.

Powell revealed at the end of January that Brooks has the potential to make Nike the No.1 women’s running shoe brand. The following month, he revealed that Brooks had beaten Nike for January, taking first place in the category for the month.

In April, the gap between brands widened. According to retail tracking service NPD, sales of Brooks – the largest performing women’s running shoe brand in the first quarter of 2021 – were up 88% from the same period in 2019, while Nike has recorded a decrease of 35% for the period.

“This [No. 1 position] has been a traditional position that Nike was very proud of, and I think they have to figure out how to make their running performance as convincing as their lifestyle, ”said Powell.

For the first half of 2021, data from NPD’s retail tracking service showed a 29% increase in sales of women’s running shoes. For the period, Brooks saw a 49% increase, while Nike was down 7%.

If Nike were to gain ground on Brooks, Powell believes the company needs to change direction.

“The product isn’t particularly convincing to her, the marketing has been far too focused on the elite athlete and less on the entry-level athlete, and frankly we’re seeing rumors that Nike is pulling out of a lot of retailers. where the women shop, ”said Powell.

Meanwhile, Brooks seems to be in full swing.

“Brooks wins with the product. What they’re doing for her is perfect, ”said Powell. “And they win with marketing. Their “Run Happy” approach – get comfortable, train at your own pace – it resonates, especially with the new runner. And they have very wisely extended their distribution to retailers where women buy the shoes.

Despite Nike’s slight drop in grip among female athletes, the sports giant had some major product wins for the period. Specifically, Powell said via Twitter that the Air Max 270 was the best-selling sneakers of the first half of the year.

“Nike certainly captures a significant portion of the fashion consumer. The 270 is considered a lifestyle shoe, not a performance shoe, and that’s where Nike focused on running, ”said Powell. “But products for performance have to be high. This is really where the energy needs to happen.



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