Activewear — which saw a big jump in growth during the pandemic — has continued to steadily expand as a category in the fashion industry.
Not only has interest in activewear clothing grown, niche activewear-related content has also surged in popularity. For example, over the past year there has been a 97% increase in active influencers posting about #GymTok, and a 67% increase in video views on that content.
It’s no wonder that this increased appetite for activewear clothing and content has led brands to invest further in influencer marketing. And, these activewear brands aren’t just investing, they’re seeing some real impact from their influencer programs!
Below we share some insights on what made Gymshark, Nike, Adidas, and Lululemon’s influencer programs particularly successful in the past year.
The following influencer program analysis of top activewear brands is taken from our recent State of Influence report, where we provide competitive benchmarks of brands in the industry across the US, UK, FR, and DE. Gymshark, Nike, Adidas, and Lululemon all made it into the top 10 on the “Top Performing'' Leaderboard, meaning they earned the highest Brand Vitality Score (VIT). VIT is Traackr’s metric that helps brands understand how content mentioning their brand performs, taking into account visibility, impact, and brand trust.
To see more brand insights, top influencers, and rising trends check out the full State of Influence report.
What’s particularly impressive about Lululemon’s influencer program success is that the majority of its social performance is driven organically rather than through paid posts. The brand’s top three influencers alone mentioned Lululemon 757 times over the past year, and include a variety of influencers spanning different tiers and content niches. Some of the top influencers that mentioned Lululemon include:
Lululemon’s high brand reputation and loyal following across different communities has allowed the brand to avoid relying on and be more selective about launching paid campaigns. Over the past 12 months, most of its paid content focused on promoting its new running shoes — an attempt to bring awareness to a product type that the brand isn’t as well known (as opposed to more popular products like its leggings and other apparel).
For the sponsored shoe campaign, the brand teamed up with a diverse group of creators. These top performers included Meg Boggs (@meg.boggs), Monet McMichael (@monetmcmichael), and Kirra Dickinson (@kirra.mov). These creators took their TikTok audiences through the different activities they do in a day wearing Lululemon’s Charge Feel sneakers.
Lululemon’s influencer program success stats (April 2022 - March 2023):
When you consider that Gymshark was launched less than 11 years ago by two kids in a college dorm, it’s truly impressive how large and successful the brand’s social media presence is.
Influencer marketing played a critical role in Gymshark’s rapid ascension, with the brand being one of the first – across all industries, not just fitness – to embrace working with influencers. The key to the brand’s effective influencer program is the solid, long-term relationships it develops with top influencers who mention their brand.
Many of the brand’s top influencers are trainers and athletes including Georgie Rose (@georgie.rose.1), Lilly Sabri (@lillysabri), Ryan Terry (@ryanjterry), and Lucy Reeves (@lucy_xfit) who often mention the brand in their gym and post-workout content. While these top creators have a range of styles, some of their best performing content involves gym humor, details about their personal lives, or messages about body positivity, mental health, and shaking the unrealistic standards of others on social media. This engaging content combined with the huge number of mentions Gymshark receives from their top influencers allows the brand to reach a large audience while also making the partnership come across as more genuine to viewers.
Gymshark’s influencer program success stats (April 2022 - March 2023):
A big reason for Nike’s influencer program success? Volume. For reference, Nike earned 6K more influencer mentions during this time period than Adidas. While Instagram was the platform where most of Nike’s VIT was generated (59%), TikTok also was a big contributor at 29% of total VIT. Further, Nike saw 160M video views on TikTok while no other brand even cracked 100M views on the platform.
Nike’s influencer program relied upon mid and macro tier influencers and partnered with popular TikTok creators on two different sponsored campaigns:
Nike’s results in France and partnerships with lifestyle influencers in other markets highlight the brand’s willingness to continuously experiment with its influencer marketing strategy. The team tries new things instead of relying solely on partnerships and endorsement deals with elite athletes to drive their brand awareness and reputation across social.
Nike’s influencer program success stats (April 2022 - March 2023):
It appears that Adidas made some key changes to its influencer program strategy that enabled it to top the leaderboard and grow VIT by 75% YoY.
One new approach was the brand shifting much more attention to TikTok, where it saw a 431% increase in VIT, a 336% increase in engagements, and a 490% increase in video views. At the core of its influencer program’s success were two new long-term partnerships with dancers Noel Robinson (@noelgoescrazy) and Avemoves (@avemoves), two of Germany’s biggest TikTok stars.
Since being welcomed to the Adidas family in April 2022, the creators have mentioned Adidas in many posts across TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube. Adidas even invited the duo to join them at the World Cup where the creators made posts together that were amongst Adidas’ top performing mentions of the past year.
When it comes to organic content, many of the top posts came from the niche “sneakerhead” community and featured reviews and unboxing videos of models like the sambas, superstars, OG forum lows, and the Gucci x Adidas limited edition gazelles.
Adidas’ influencer program success stats (April 2022 - March 2023):