The shift to store brand products, especially for groceries, has been well-documented during the recession. And even as the economy improves, some shoppers seem determined to stick with lower cost alternatives. Does this attitude extend to athletic footwear and apparel markets? Analysts at SportsOneSource Group recently published their findings on this topic.

Well-known sports apparel marketers have invested heavily in their brands and for some of these companies, the focus on brand has paid off. Surveyed consumers noted, in the following percentages, that they have purchased these brands at least once in the past year:

  • Nike 66.4%
  • Adidas 45.8%
  • Reebok/RBK 44.3%
  • New Balance 40.3%
  • Skechers 33.2%

But when it comes to footwear, brand is not the key consideration. Here are the percentages of consumers who rank these specific factors as very important when purchasing footwear:

  • Product quality: 71%
  • Value/price: 62%
  • Style/fashion/fit: 51%
  • Past experience with brand: 48%
  • Low price: 8%
  • Innovation/technology: 29%
  • Brand: 26%
  • Environmental initiatives: 15%
  • Athlete/celebrity endorsement: 8%

Analysts noted that compared to last year, consumer emphasis on price dropped slightly. This shift in attitude indicates shoppers may be feeling less economic pressure.

Consumer opinions when shopping for athletic apparel were remarkably similar to those reported when purchasing footwear. However, slightly higher numbers of shoppers report that low price and style/fashion/fit are more important for apparel than for footwear.

Analysts emphasized that only 21% of consumers thought athletic or celebrity endorsements were important for apparel purchases and 19% said the same for footwear purchases. Marketers who are intent on improving the appeal and sales of specific brands may begin exploring how to position their products as having the highest quality rather than spending huge sums on celebrity endorsements.

[Source: The Brand Strength Report. SGBmag.com. March/April 2011. Web. 7 Jul. 2011]