Global Leaders in Sports Apparel: Nike and Adidas


The market for sports apparels have been expanding with each passing year as more sporting activities spring up with additional popularity of the existing ones. This has made the sportswear manufacturers have a competitive race in a bid to get a slice of the market and possibly be the market leader. The two leading sports manufacturers; the Nike Company and Adidas are doing all they can to remain at the top while offering their customers the best outfit in the market. This involves the use of marketing strategies and investments in the sports industry by employing the latest technologies and trendy adventures. Many sports academies have been built courtesy of these initiatives and the sports industry have gotten a good share of competitive industry innovations.














Global Leaders in Sports Apparel: Nike and Adidas


The field of sports has taken the world by storm either as a form of entertainment or as a business. The TV channels dedicated for sports coverage are gaining popularity and the sports industry is undeniably a Multibillion dollar industry. These channels are for example; Entertainment Sports Programming Network (ESPN), Star Sports, Al Jazeera Sports, and Sky Sports among others .The audience reach is immense and is the reason that is making the clothes’ manufacturers jostle for market share in availing the sportswear. This paper will examine the leading sports apparel companies, Nike and Adidas, by putting into focus the types of marketing, pricing, and consumer-oriented promotional strategies that they use in a bid to maintain and expand market share as well as edging out each other and other players in the industry.

The Leading Sports Apparel Companies

The global leaders in the sportswear manufacturing industry are the Nike and Adidas respectively. The two companies have close competitors, namely Reebok, Puma, Converse and Fila. The leaders in the industry have presence all over the world because of their popularity attributable to the quality products and ambitious marketing strategies they employ. Let’s take a look at the two companies in terms of their profiles.

Nike Inc

The Nike Company is a multinational firm with its roots in the United States of America. The range of products of this firm is to design, develop, manufacture and do global marketing of sports shoes, clothes, accessories. Other non-core products are the music players and watches plus other equipment and services. In its history of existence the company has done acquisitions of a number of apparel and shoe manufacturing firms in order to increase its market share and boost its market leadership prospects. It has also divested a few of its subsidiaries in order to concentrate its efforts on its core business product lines (Frisch, 2009).

Adidas AG

The Adidas Company is a German multinational enterprise that engages itself in the designing and manufacturing sportswear, including clothes, shoes and accessories (Sportswear International, 2002). Its headquarters is in Herzogenaurach, Bavaria, Germany. Other products from the company are bags, watches, shirts, eyewear among other clothes that are associated with the sports events.

The Promotional strategies of the two companies

The main aim of promotional activities is to pass a message to consumers about the product on offer and its association with a certain company. Both Nike and Adidas have approaches to their promotional activities that are similar while others are different.

Similar approaches

The marketing ploys employed by both Nike and Adidas are through entering into sponsorship pacts with professional teams, learning institutions athletic teams, and superstars in athletics. These teams or athletes are sponsored on training programs and given the sportswear for free as an effort to influence the target market audience. Team managers are convinced to recommend the apparel to the teams and afterwards the obligation to buy them. Visibility is the key to this marketing tactic.

Furthermore, these companies do promote the products by passing messages linking achievements with the apparel. The images of successful athletes on celebratory mood, putting on the company’s apparel suggests the notion of victory attributed to the products. It is a psychological trick that drums up support for the firm’s sportswear.

Another way of marketing they use to promote company’s products is through placing advertisements in TV stations through agencies. Creative advertising has helped the firm gain a lead in the market.

Quality oriented consumers are also targeted. This group is after the usefulness of the apparel more than the price tag on it. This inspires the company to produce very strong, comfortable and durable products and price it appropriately.

The companies have also taken into the internet marketing, technologies in email marketing and multimedia campaigns in marketing


Adidas has invented a Promotional strategy that directs consumers to a website and then inviting them to a challenge. The winner will be awarded a chance to meet any of their sporting idols. Nike on the other hand has been sponsoring superstars to designated outlets of their stores to encourage customers to meet them and get their autographs signed as they do their sportswear shopping.

Nike embarked on its marketing strategy of selling the idea of jogging as a health and fitness idea. The company sold books and popularized jogging. This eventually puts into limelight the company through the sportswear worn by people on a mission to get fit in the field through work- outs. The Adidas uses images of successful sportsmen and women appearing healthy and full of strength as a suggestion of a link between their products and health.



Market information to differentiate a company

The companies in the apparel industry can adopt a niche market approach in order to serve better a specified section of the market. This can occur if a market is created dealing in elderly person’s apparel. This market is available as elderly people nowadays are conscious of the health benefits of doing physical exercises. The cloth lines could be tailored to specifically meet the physical characteristics of the elderly population. Old superstars can then be recruited to instigate nostalgic experiences by advertising the products the market niches could be from the specialized sports and attaching prestige and class to the offer. The logic behind this kind of niche marketing is that a premium price can be charged for a product and also the fact that a competitor cannot rival favorably with a specialized company (Rapp et al, 1987).

Consumer Oriented Promotions

Consumer oriented promotions are the promotional activities that influences instant purchase by the consumer. The tactic makes appeals to the consumer in a way that they see a reason to make a decision based on instant value exchange gotten (Platform Films., & TV Choice, 1999).

The sports apparel could adopt the personality promotion option. In this case the consumers are attracted to the company’s store where a hired celebrity will shake hands and sign autographs from the customers. This will lead to great sales. Another consumer oriented promotion with short term gains would be discounted sales for special occasions like festive seasons.

The long term strategy in consumer promotions would be employing the exchange schemes and installment purchasing. When customers are rest assured of the possibility of exchange of old clothes for new ones at a small price loyalty to the company’s products will rise. This will translate into long-term loyalty. The installment option of buying will also help the customer acquire the apparel through small regular deposits. This makes them not feel the pinch by making the purchase at a go.

Nike Pricing Strategies

The price of a commodity usually determines its success or failure depending on the customer’s awareness of the way the price tag was reached. Customers are aware of times when they are being exploited and those that are determined by market forces. This is though not an obvious motivation as can be seen from niche marketing. Nike has been able to use niche market pricing when they want to sell some of their apparel at a premium (Riggs 2000). The cloth lines that the company has been able to attach a premium value are those targeted at the Superstars. They pay a higher price and have small modifications that make them a bit different from the ones going to mass market.

Another pricing tactic is the psychological pricing. A product can be priced at $1,999 to make it appear to be within the one thousand ranges while in the real sense it is costing $2,000.Customers are therefore enticed psychologically on the boundary price and are readily willing to make the purchase.

Furthermore the company has been successful in pricing its products according to the seasons. The seasons with much activity, for example world cup and Olympics among others, has been opportunities to make promotional pricing, hence netting more consumers and eventually retaining them.

Effective advertising medium

Successful advertising medium for the sports apparels is through popular televised events that they sponsor. These could be the famous marathons like New York and London Marathons. Other events that the sports apparel manufacturers can advertise through are the popular soccer events, for example the English Premier league and European championships. These events usually pull a lot of audience across the world.


The sports apparel industry is growing daily and the trend will not stop any time soon. In fact new sports are being invented and brought to the mainstream attention. Companies involved in the manufacture and distribution of sports apparel have a hard task of keeping their customers and attracting new ones. The best action for any company is to expand the portfolio of its offerings and be innovative in the existing products. The leverage could be achieved through identifying the best channels to make the products known and with the emergence of new technologies much can be explored.




Frisch, A. (2009). The story of Nike. Mankato, Minn: Creative Education.

Platform Films. & TV Choice. (1999). Niche marketing in the sportswear business. England? TV Choice.

Rapp, S., & Collins, T. L. (1987). MaxiMarketing: the new direction in advertising, promotion, and marketing strategy. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Riggs, T. (2000). Encyclopedia of major marketing campaigns. Detroit: Gale Group.

Sportswear international. (2002). Frankfurt/M: DeutscherFachverlag.

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