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6 Top Adidas Competitors in Today's Market

Adidas, a giant in the sportswear industry and the largest manufacturer in Europe, stands out not only for its extensive product line, which includes footwear, apparel, and accessories but also for its iconic three-stripe logo, making it a globally recognized brand. Despite its strong market presence, Adidas faces substantial competition from other key players like Nike, Puma, and Under Armour.


This dynamic competitive landscape, combined with Adidas' position as the fifth-largest apparel brand globally with a staggering brand value and significant employee base, underscores the importance of understanding Adidas' standing in the global market.

This article delves into identifying the top 10 Adidas competitors, offering insights into each brand's unique market position and how they stack up against Adidas. Through examining these Adidas alternatives, we not only highlight the breadth of Adidas competition but also provide a clearer picture of the strategic dynamics within the sportswear industry. This exploration is crucial for entrepreneurs and startups aiming to carve out their niche in this competitive sector, offering them the knowledge to position themselves effectively in the market.


Top Adidas Competitors

1) Nike, Inc.


Stepping into the competitive arena, Nike, Inc. emerges as a formidable giant and the world's largest and most valuable sportswear company. Its extensive product range caters not only to athletes but also to non-athletes, showcasing the brand's versatile appeal. Nike's ownership of Converse, a brand synonymous with iconic sneakers favored by celebrities, further solidifies its market position. Here are some key highlights that underscore Nike's competitive edge:


  • Product Diversity and Market Leadership:

  • Nike leads as the world's top supplier of athletic shoes and apparel.

  • Dominates the global sneaker market with a staggering 65.9% share, overshadowing Adidas' 14.7%.

  • The brand's revenue surpasses that of its main competitors, Adidas and Puma, combined, highlighting its unparalleled market presence.

  • Innovation and Intellectual Property:

  • Boasts approximately 3,750 patents, showcasing a commitment to innovation and a competitive advantage over Adidas and other competitors.

  • This innovation is not limited to product design but extends to marketing strategies, including successful sponsorship agreements with celebrity athletes and professional sports teams.

  • Market Share and Sustainability:

  • In the United States, Nike enjoys a 21.1% share of the footwear market, significantly higher than Adidas.

  • Recognized for its sustainability efforts, Nike is ranked as the 5th most sustainable company in the apparel industry.

  • The brand's strategic focus on environmental sustainability and expanding its digital presence speaks to its forward-thinking approach.


Nike's success is not just a result of its extensive product range or innovative marketing campaigns; it's also deeply rooted in the brand's ability to connect with consumers on a global scale. North America remains a key market, contributing nearly half of its global revenue annually. However, Nike's influence extends far beyond, with a strong presence in the Asia Pacific market and a growing focus on digital expansion and sustainability. This strategic positioning not only makes Nike a significant competitor for Adidas but also sets a high bar for adidas alternatives in the sportswear industry.


2) PUMA SE


PUMA SE, a powerhouse in the sportswear industry, boasts a rich history and a strong financial performance. In 2022, the company generated a robust revenue of 8.47 billion USD, with a net income of 117 million euros. This financial health is a testament to PUMA's market resilience and strategic business operations. Originating from the same roots as Adidas, PUMA was founded by one of the Dassler brothers, marking the birth of a long-standing rivalry that has fueled innovation and growth in the sportswear sector.


  • Financial and Market Performance:

  • 2022 Revenue: 8.47 billion USD

  • 2022 Net Income: 117 million euros

  • Stock Market Behavior: Less volatile than Adidas AG ADR, indicating a steadier investment option for those looking into Adidas competition.


PUMA distinguishes itself with classic and stylish designs, blending lifestyle and fashion elements into its athletic footwear. This approach not only appeals to athletes but also to fashion-forward consumers, expanding PUMA's market reach. Despite the competitive landscape, PUMA's strategic collaborations, such as the notable partnership with Rihanna on Fenty X Puma, underscore its innovative approach to marketing and design.


  • Strategic Collaborations and Design Innovations:

  • Notable Collaboration: Fenty X Puma by Rihanna

  • Design Philosophy: Incorporates lifestyle and fashion elements, appealing to a broader audience beyond traditional sports enthusiasts.


3) Under Armour


Under Armour, emerging as a significant Adidas competitor has carved out a unique niche in the sportswear industry with its innovative approach and strategic business model. The brand's journey from its inception in 1995, selling temperature-regulating shirts to colleges and NFL teams, to becoming a global powerhouse in sports apparel and footwear, underscores its relentless pursuit of excellence and innovation. Here are some key aspects that highlight Under Armour's competitive edge:


  • Blended Business Model:

  • Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) and wholesaling blend, with e-commerce sales making up 46% of DTC revenue.

  • A focus on high-quality products and major athlete endorsements.

  • Market Position and Growth Strategies:

  • A notable shift towards targeting the women's sports apparel and footwear markets.

  • Expansion of retail outlets and aggressive global brand spreading.

  • Investments in mobile technology companies to deepen brand affiliations and engage athletes.


Under Armour's strategic positioning is further distinguished by its emphasis on performance-focused innovation and an aggressive marketing approach. Unlike Adidas, which has been perceived as complacent, Under Armour's dissatisfaction with the status quo has propelled it to surpass Adidas in combined apparel and footwear sales in the US. This success is attributed to several factors:


  • Performance-Focused Innovation: Leveraging technology and the founder's background to create products that meet athletes' demanding needs.

  • Aggressive Marketing Strategies: Signing some of the world's best athletes for endorsements, thereby enhancing brand recognition and association.

  • Market Expansion: Focusing on underserved segments like women's sportswear and expanding its digital and global footprint.


Despite facing challenges such as reliance on the North American market and a recent slump in this region, Under Armour's international revenues have consistently risen. This resilience is reflected in its financial health, with a market capitalization of $10.6 billion and 1-Year Total Returns of 31.6%. The competitive landscape for Under Armour is marked by high rivalry, moderate bargaining power of suppliers and buyers, and a moderate threat of substitute products, underscoring the brand's need to continuously innovate and adapt to maintain its market position.


4) New Balance


New Balance, renowned for its classy footwear with simple designs, has successfully carved a niche for itself in the sportswear market, appealing not just to athletes but also to non-athletes. This brand stands out as the third most popular among baseball players and holds a significant 14% market share in the specialty running brand sector worldwide as of 2019. The year 2022 was particularly notable for New Balance, with the company reporting over $5 billion in revenue, marking a 21% growth from the previous year. Ambitiously, New Balance aims to double this revenue to $10 billion in the near future, a testament to its growing influence and strategic vision in the sportswear industry.


Several factors contribute to New Balance's escalating success and popularity:


  • Expanding Product Lines: Diversifying its offerings to cater to a broader audience.

  • Increasing Brand Collaborations and Athlete Sponsorships: Leveraging partnerships to enhance brand visibility and appeal.

  • Favorability Among Consumers: A CivicScience survey revealed that 42% of U.S. adults hold a favorable view towards New Balance shoes. Notably, the brand has consistently ranked ahead of Nike in terms of favorability among U.S. adults since March 2023. This positive perception is especially pronounced among Gen Z adults (18-24 years old), with favorability jumping from 34% in September 2022 to 52% in September 2023. Additionally, men have shown a higher interest in New Balance, with 52% expressing favorability compared to 42% of women. Nostalgia plays a significant role in driving brand favorability, with 66% of U.S. adults who say nostalgia influences their purchases 'a lot' being favorable to New Balance shoes.


The global athletic footwear market, where New Balance is a key player, is projected to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 5% from 2023 to 2031. This market, which includes footwear specifically designed for sports and physical activities, is driven by increasing global awareness of health and fitness.


The athleisure fashion trend has also significantly boosted the market, with running shoes, walking shoes, and sports shoes collectively accounting for a substantial share of the market's revenue in 2022. Despite challenges such as rising raw material costs and supply chain disruptions, the future looks promising for New Balance. The Asia-Pacific region, in particular, is expected to present significant opportunities, with countries like China and India witnessing a surge in fitness consciousness and disposable income.


5) Reebok


Reebok, now rejuvenated under the ownership of ABG, has taken a strategic pivot in its approach towards the sportswear market. This Adidas alternative has refreshed its collaborative strategy, focusing on design and innovation to solidify its presence. Despite being a subsidiary of Adidas until recently, Reebok has carved its distinct path, especially after returning to profitability in 2018. The brand's growth, particularly in North America with a 2% increase on a currency-neutral basis in 2019, is a testament to its successful turnaround. Reebok's operation spans two primary categories: Sport and Classics. This focus encompasses specialized fitness activities, functional innovation, style innovation, and iconic silhouettes, marking a transformation from traditional sports to a more specialized fitness orientation.

Key Highlights:


  • Transformation and Strategic Focus: Transitioning from traditional sports, Reebok now emphasizes specialized fitness activities and functional innovation. This shift has allowed the brand to resonate more deeply with its target consumers, known as 'the Game Changers'.

  • Consumer-Centric Approach: With a keen focus on the female consumer, Reebok aims to be distinctive, relevant, and authentic. This approach is underpinned by a commitment to maintaining an innovative product pipeline, and introducing new technologies, styles, and processes.

  • Digital and Marketing Innovations: By merging its Digital and Marketing divisions, Reebok has created award-winning breakthroughs, setting itself apart in the competitive landscape. The brand's partnerships with influential validators in the lifestyle and fitness space further amplify its market presence.


Environmental and Social Responsibility:


  • Environmental Impacts: Reebok addresses key areas such as climate change, decarbonization, sustainable materials, circular services, and biodiversity. This comprehensive approach to sustainability positions Reebok as a responsible player in the sportswear industry.

  • Social Impacts: The brand's commitment extends to human rights, supply chain ethics, worker welfare, and product safety. Transparency is a cornerstone of Reebok's strategy, with detailed reporting, policies, supplier lists, and a dedicated sustainability contact.


Financial and Market Performance:


  • Return to Profitability: Achieving profitability in 2018 and a 4% revenue growth to €1.7 billion in 2019, Reebok accounted for 7% of Adidas' total annual sales. This financial resurgence is indicative of the brand's successful strategic realignment.

  • Strategic Alternatives: Adidas' contemplation of strategic alternatives for Reebok, including a potential sale, underscores a pivotal moment for the brand. The decision, expected to be announced on March 10, 2021, could redefine Reebok's trajectory in the sportswear market.


In summary, Reebok's journey under ABG's ownership reflects a brand reborn, with a clear strategic focus, consumer-centric approach, and a commitment to innovation and sustainability. This adidas competitor, through its transformation and strategic initiatives, has not only returned to profitability but also redefined its market position, setting the stage for continued growth and influence in the sportswear industry.


6) Lululemon Athletica Inc.


Lululemon Athletica Inc., a Canadian powerhouse in the athletic apparel, footwear, and accessories market, has distinguished itself as a prominent Adidas competitor by focusing on the lucrative athleisure segment and targeting affluent customers. Their strategy encompasses a broad sales channel that includes branded stores, outlets, warehouse sales, and a strong digital presence through mobile apps and the lululemon.com e-commerce website. Significantly, Lululemon has expanded its product offering to include MIRROR, an interactive home gym, available in nearly 40 stores across Canada, marking a bold step into the home fitness market.


  • Financial Performance and Market Position:

  • Q2 2021 Net Revenue: $1.45 billion with a gross profit of $842.69 million.

  • Market Performance: Over the past three months, Lululemon surged 9.1%, outperforming Adidas which saw an 18.7% decline.

  • Profitability: Lululemon boasts a higher EBITDA margin of 25.1% compared to Adidas's 11.5%.

  • Stock Market Valuation: Trades at a non-GAAP forward PEG of 2.24x, indicating a premium valuation compared to Adidas’s 0.68x.

  • Analyst Ratings: Lululemon has an overall B grade (Buy), outpacing Adidas's C grade (Neutral).


Lululemon's strategic foray into footwear in 2022 positions it directly against giants like Nike and Adidas. This move is supported by the leasing of 28,000 square feet in Portland and significant hiring from competitors, including Nike and Adidas. The anticipation for this launch is high, with a design patent issued in October 2021 for shoes featuring stretch zones and dual-layered midsoles. This expansion mirrors Lululemon's ambition to not only compete but also set new benchmarks in the sportswear industry.


  • Innovation and Expansion:

  • Footwear Collection Launch: Anticipated in 2022, positioning Lululemon alongside Nike and Adidas in the competitive space.

  • Strategic Hiring and Infrastructure: Leasing significant space in Portland and recruiting talent with experience from leading sportswear brands.

  • Patent for Innovation: Received for footwear designs, highlighting Lululemon's commitment to innovation.


Lululemon's remarkable financial health and strategic initiatives underscore its competitive edge and resilience in the sportswear market. With revenue on track to surpass its 2023 target by the end of 2021 and a strong performance in both the US and international markets, Lululemon's strategic moves, including product diversification and expansion into new categories like footwear, signal its potential to further disrupt the sportswear industry and provide a formidable challenge to Adidas and its peers.


Conclusion


Through the exploration of Adidas' top competitors in today's dynamic market, it becomes clear that brands like Nike, PUMA, Under Armour, New Balance, Reebok, and Lululemon Athletica Inc. each present unique challenges and opportunities within the sportswear industry. These companies showcase diverse strategies in innovation, market positioning, and consumer engagement, underscoring the competitive landscape Adidas navigates. With each competitor bringing distinct strengths to the table, from Nike's market leadership and innovation to Lululemon's strong hold on the athleisure segment, the sportswear market remains both vibrant and fiercely contested.


The significant takeaways about Adidas' position and its competition highlight a universally competitive environment that demands continuous innovation and strategic marketing. As these key players vie for market share, their efforts contribute not only to individual brand success but also to driving the industry forward. The implications of this competition are vast, offering consumers more choices and pushing brands toward sustainability, inclusivity, and technological advancements. Moving forward, the trajectories of these companies will undoubtedly shape the future of sportswear, making it an exciting sector for consumers, investors, and market analysts alike.


FAQs


What companies are considered Adidas' main competitors?


Adidas has several key competitors in the sporting goods industry, including Foot Locker, Reebok, New Balance, ASICS Europe, Skechers, VF Corporation, PUMA, Under Armour, Nike, and HanesBrands. These companies are involved in the production of athletic apparel, accessories, and footwear, targeting the same market as Adidas.


Which brand is Adidas' most significant rival?


Nike is recognized as Adidas' biggest rival. Both brands have a significant presence in the market, a dedicated customer base, and iconic shoe models. They are in a continuous battle for market dominance, making the competition between them intense.


Does Adidas face its toughest competition from Nike?


Yes, Nike is considered to be Adidas' toughest competitor. As the world's largest athletic footwear and apparel brand, Nike's global revenue surpasses that of Adidas and Puma combined, making it the most valuable clothing brand overall.


Between Nike and Adidas, which one is the market leader?


Nike holds the leadership position in the global sneaker market with an estimated brand value of 34.8 billion U.S. dollars in 2021, compared to Adidas' brand value of 16.5 billion U.S. dollars. Nike commands a 65.9% market share, significantly ahead of Adidas' 14.7% market share.

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