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Here’s Some Evidence That Amazon’s Owning Activewear

Athleisure is hot, hot, hot: young consumers can’t seem to get enough Adidas, Nike and their ilk.

And yet on Amazon, 57 percent of the men’s athletic brand bestseller listings in the first quarter this year were the retailer’s own brands. On the women’s side, 87 percent were private label.

Amazon has never been content to just enter a category; its ultimate goal is, inevitably, domination. And for activewear, there are some indications that its efforts are beginning to yield results, according to research from Gartner L2’s latest Amazon Performance Rank report. While on the men’s side, eight of the top athletic brands remained unchanged from one quarter to the next, the women’s athletic category saw significant change.

Amazon grew its share from five of the top women’s active brands in Q4 2017 to eight the following quarter. Hanes and Columbia were the sole national brands remaining in the top in early 2018. Amazon’s top-performing private labels included ODODOS, 90 Degrees By Reflex, Mirity, FITTIN (in the No. 1 through No 4 spots), as well as Balega, Tesla, Icyzone and SweatyRocks.

That activewear is a very new category for Amazon should not be overlooked. Though it only launched its private-label active assortment in the 2017’s final quarter, already the men’s share of Amazon Basics rose from 16th to sixth overall, making it one of the fastest-growing brands.

So how did Amazon get its brands such stellar results? It leveraged its Vine cohort of “trusted” reviewers to spread (positive, most likely) word of mouth about the just-released apparel. Plus, the company made aggressive use of headline search ads to get the newly released active apparel in front of as many eyeballs as possible.

Though going up against Amazon may seem daunting, there are steps brands can take to improve their own rankings and results on the e-commerce site. L2 recommends that brands keep an eye on Amazon’s private-label activewear to see what consumers are responding to—and then double down on improving their merchandising to effectively improve their value proposition.