Market Characteristics and Segment
The adoption of Italian and German sportswear by youths who are yearning to be like affluent have made it possible for trainers to hit the UK market (Shroyer and Weimar 255). The athletic apparel and sneakers market is worth over £ 60 billion of which the sportswear forms is the largest in volume. Currently, 70% of the sportswear are purchased for leisure while 30% are bought for the actual sporting activities. Since 2016, Nike acquired more than 11% of the market share thereby overtaking Clark which garnered less than 10% market share. The manufacturers like Nike have remained innovative and improved on product development. Products like Hyerpadapt 1.0 attracted the attention of product market.
The sporty market segment consists of consumers who are actively involved sports or fitness on a regular basis. They prefer good quality sports shoes since they are keen in recording high performance in their various fields or activities (Turner 486). They look for well-known brands that offer high-quality shoes. This segment can pay higher prices as long as the quality suits their sporting needs. The fashion sports segment is an emerging category of consumers who are looking for sporty looking shoes. For this category, what matters to them is style (self and social identity) and not the sporting function of the sneakers. The market comprises of youths and young adults.
Another market segment is everyday wearers who look for sports shoes for no specific purpose but just for everyday lifestyle basis. They form the highest percentage of consumers of sneakers. The elite sports market segment, on the other hand, consist of consumers who are professional sportsmen, serious competitors, among others. They require sports shoes designed for their various sporting activities. This segment looks technologically advanced and innovated products. Lastly, the budget conscious consumers consist of consumers who look for low priced sneakers.
Key Market Drivers
According to Hartono (52), the emergence of fashion-set has led to the surge in sportswear sales in the UK. Comparative analysis of sales data shows that the revenue from sales in 2016 was £7 billion, a 6% increase from the year 2015. The upward trend in sales volume has been associated with the rise in Brits who are lacing up trainers and donning tracksuits due to fashion. In fact, more than 50% of the consumers of sneakers or trainers do not buy them for sporting purposes but to change with the trending fashion (Brace-Govan 372).
The sales volume for fashionable sportswear which is won for non-sporting purposes is continuously increasing over the years due to celebrity, brand endorsement, or just new fashion trends in the market. Another key market driver is the increasing interests of consumers in health and wellness. About 55% of consumers in the UK take part in sporting activities at least once a week to keep fit (Hartono 44). More than 30% young consumers purchase new sporting items since they tend to exercise regularly compared to their counterparts in a higher age bracket.
Brace-Govan (383) points out that some of the supply factors driving sneakers market in the UK are the withdrawal of high profile designers from the Olympic teams created a vacuum for new entrants to succeed in the UK market. Moreover, merchandise and products associated with athletics are well placed in the market to battle for the market share. Smit (15), on the other hand, identifies the emerging brands and retailers are entering the market due to the continuous improvement on the activewear and sportswear thereby creating room for consumers to go for new brands continuously. The increasing consumer interest in the new products has created room for innovations to be used in developing the products and enhancing their success amid competition in the market.
Key Market Players
The UK footwear market is fragmented into specialists and non-specialists. Some of the leading sneaker retailers include Sports Direct, Nike, Primark, New Look, Clarks, and JD Sports Fashion, among many others. Currently, Clarks and Nike are the leading retailers controlling more than 60% of the market share for more than five years. Other companies like New Look are the main rivals with a significant share of the market. Shroyer and Weimar (253) add that Nike remains the market leader both in pricing and innovation. However, the company is facing increasing competition from other companies like Adidas and Under Armour thereby hindering its growth since they cut much of its market share. Also, a promising partnership between Adidas and Under Armour with celebrities like Kanye West will have an impact on sales volume and market share.
Players in the sportswear market utilize both price and non-price strategies to conquer the market. Since the market is segmented to various category of consumers, price competition only applies to price-conscious consumers (Hartono 48). They have continued to compete for both specialists and non-specialist retailers due to the continuous improvement of their products conforming to the changing fashion trends and consumer needs. For instance, the introduction of self-lacing sneakers from the previous moisture adapting apparel.
Brand endorsements are being used by the competing firms in the sneakers market to outdo their counterparts. The emergence of female consumers especially those who look for sportswear for fashion and style rather than sporting activities have made it possible for companies who invested in a brand endorsement to grow their market share (Ranebi and Léonor 35). For example. Female audiences with strong, outspoken models promote the use of sporting wear like sneakers to help in maintaining fitness thereby promoting sales of brands of feminine sportswear. Branding and marketing of sportswear remain the primary sources of gaining competitive advantage in the market.
Sneakers/trainers will continue sales in the sports footwear market. The increasing social acceptance over the years continues to make different groups identify with sneakers thereby leading to market share growth in the coming years (Ranebi and Léonor 33). Many people are currently focusing on their health thus increasing activities related to body health and fitness. Producers of sneakers or trainers will benefit from such move to improve on sales and revenue collection while constantly innovating the products to address the consumer needs. In the next five years, sneakers are expected to record an annual growth of 8% thereby leading to a 60% of value sales in the footwear industry in the forecasted period.