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Report: Activewear Brands Resonate Most With Millennials But Apparel Falls Short on Engagement

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Millennials are leading the way in wellness—and activewear brands are making the most of it.

According to a report from brand intimacy agency MBLM, Nike and Under Armour are the two most engaged apparel brands among Americans aged 18 to 34.

And they don’t just appeal to younger generations. MBLM’s survey of 3,000 people in the U.S., aged 18 to 64, named Nike and Under Armour among the top three brands in the apparel category, with quotient scores of 42 and 35 respectively.

MBLM defined the quotient as a shorthand score that demonstrates how a brand is performing relative to its ability to create intimate brand relationships.

Nike is the highest-ranked brand in the $331 billion U.S. apparel market, scoring high on fulfillment (which is largely centered on performance), nostalgia and ritual (a vital part of a person’s daily existence). More than 23 percent of Nike’s users also said they would be willing to pay 20 percent more for the company’s products.

Given the relative newness of Under Armour (the brand turns 20 this year), it’s not surprising it ranks low on nostalgia. At the same time, it scores high on fulfillment and identity, which means it reflects an aspirational image. However, only 14.6% of the brand’s users say they’re willing to pay more for it.

Activewear featured heavily in the apparel industry’s top 10. Adidas ranked fourth, followed by Puma at seventh and The North Face in ninth place. With that being said, the apparel industry ranked second-to-last in creating and building intimate brand relationships. For example, Nike placed 39th overall and Under Armour ranked 55th.

Notably, The North Face was the number one brand among women, whereas Levi’s was the top brand for men.

“Apparel had a weak performance, compared to most of the other industries that we analyzed,” Mario Natarelli, MBLM’s managing partner, said. “This is surprising given the emotional connection people typically have with fashion brands. It appears these brands have a powerful opportunity to build stronger bonds with customers.”

Not surprisingly, Apple topped the overall list of brands with which U.S. consumers feel the greatest intimacy.

MBLM apparel brand intimacy
Photo: from MBLM report