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Shoe Wars

Updated: Jan 14, 2021

When you hear the term athletic brand, what comes to mind? Perhaps Nike or Adidas? Both brands are legacies within the industry, however, there are other brands on the rise. According to Global News Wire, the global footwear industry size is valued at $365.5 billion in 2020 and is projected to grow to $530.3 billion by 2027. These brands are battling it out to gain the most market share in the footwear industry.

Nike founded in 1964, is an American brand that strives to design, develop, manufacturer, and market footwear, equipment, apparel, accessories, and services. They also own other footwear brands such as Converse. Nike’s marketing strategy includes promoting its brand through sponsorship agreements with top professional athletes, professional teams, and college athletic teams. Nike holds lengthy endorsement deals with some of the biggest names in sports such as LeBron James, Cristiano Ronaldo, Serena Williams, and Michael Jordan. Nike’s premier collaboration features legend Michael Jordan and his Air Jordan brand that generates around $3 billion every year. According to CNN Business, Nike holds league-wide deals with the NBA being the official uniform provider from 2015-2023 (a position snatched from Adidas) and a long-standing partnership with the NFL until 2028. In addition, Nike holds market share within collegiate athletics by being the premier sponsor for athletic programs such as Alabama, Clemson, Florida State, and Penn State.

Nike’s competitor, Adidas, was founded in 1924 and is a German multinational corporation that designs and manufactures shoes, clothing, and accessories. Similar to Nike, Adidas owns other footwear companies that increase their bottom line such as Reebok. Adidas’ marketing strategy includes the sponsorship of international professional athletes such as Lionel Messi, David Beckham, Derrick Rose, Andrew Wiggins, and former Nike sponsored athlete, James Harden. In addition, Adidas is the league-wide sponsor for Major League Soccer (MLS) by providing all equipment and clothing for all teams. According to CNN Business, Adidas is gaining market share in collegiate athletics by taking over the former Nike sponsored the University of Washington by securing a ten-year deal as the official sponsor. Adidas is uniquely positioned by working with A-List celebrities to incorporate fashion as well rather than just sport-focused. The best example of this is Adidas’ partnership with rapper Kanye West and the creation of Yeezy sneakers. Originally partnered with Nike, West abruptly switched over to competitor Adidas to sell his sneaker brand. According to Forbes, the partnership has become on to become one of the most victorious partnerships of all time by generating billions of dollars.

Nike and Adidas are not the only companies making their mark on the footwear industry. Puma is the third-largest sportswear manufacturer in the world and the German founded brand designs and manufactures athletic and casual footwear along with apparel and accessories. Puma is involved in various sports such as basketball, football, running, fitness, golf, motorsports, and sports style. The brand sponsors high-profile athletes such as Neymar, Antoine Griezmann, and Usain Bolt. Puma has a strategic partnership with rapper Jay-Z to be the Creative Director of Puma Basketball. Other brand ambassadors in the music industry include Big Sean and The Weeknd. In addition, according to GQ, Puma has a lifetime deal with DeAndre Ayton who was the number 1 pick in the 2018 NBA Draft. The Phoenix Suns star, Ayton, has his own shoe with the brand called, Puma RS-X Deandre, a lifestyle shoe that specifically pays homage to his native country Bahamas in the design.

Another brand that is on the up and coming by gaining market share in the footwear industry is New Balance. Established in 1906, New Balance is an American sports footwear and apparel brand for runners, other athletes, and non-athletes. The brand also partners with celebrities to launch branded product lines. Some of the company’s ambassadors include US Olympic Sprinter Sydney McLaughlin, entertainer Jaden Smith, Boston Red Sox Shortstop Xander Bogaerts, and NBA All-Star Kawhi Leonard. Leonard has his own line of basketball shoes called New Balance OMN1S and New Balance KAWHI. These partnerships have made New Balance a real contender in the shoe war.

The footwear industry continues to see exponential growth and has no signs of slowing down. With so many competitive brands offering similar products it is crucial for them to continue to differentiate themselves whether that is through partnerships, sponsorships, or innovation. The fight to become the number one global footwear brand continues and it is exciting to see what will occur in this shoe war.

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