BRANDS BIG IN U.S.
NEW YORK — When it comes to brand loyalty for sports apparel, Americans lead the English, the Germans and the Japanese.
A survey of men and women aged 15 and older in four major markets — the U.S., the U.K., Germany and Japan — revealed widely differing attitudes about sports apparel, among them their level of brand consciousness.
The just-released survey, conducted by Kurt Salmon Associates 16 months ago, defined sports apparel as “clothing designed for use in conjunction with sports and/or exercise.”
Some 58 percent of the American respondents said they know what brand they want before they enter a store. The U.K. ranked second with 42 percent.
If their favorite sports apparel brands are unavailable, 67 percent of the British respondents and 62 percent of the Americans said they would go to another store to find it. Only 14 percent of Americans said they would switch to another brand, compared to 16 percent in the U.K. and 25 percent each in Germany and Japan.
Americans are particularly conscious of labels and insignias, said Mike May, director of statistics for the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association.
“That’s why Lacoste, Champion, Nike and Reebok are held in high esteem,” he said. “It’s almost as though logos put you in a VIP category.”
The Germans and Japanese tend to be more concerned about function and performance than Americans, who often buy activewear for their logos, May said.
“The Germans and Japanese are more interested in the actual product and how it will hold up,” he added. “But we’re beginning to shop more like them. We’re becoming more interested in function and performance.”
On average, German shoppers said they spent the most money in 1995 for activewear — $462. Germany was followed, in order, by the U.K., Japan and the U.S. Eighty-nine percent of the German respondents said they used activewear for recreational purposes. “Sports and recreation make up a greater percentage of German people’s everyday lives,” May said. “Germans are also more fashion-conscious than Americans. We’re a T-shirt society. We wear them everywhere. T-shirts make a statement, give us an image and say who we are.”
Sports apparel is generally more expensive in Germany compared with other countries, May said. In addition, sports apparel is becoming increasingly popular among those who live in what used to be East Germany, he added.
While no survey was conducted for 1996, annual expenditures were not expected to have changed drastically from 1995 levels, according to Jonathan Ausler, marketing director for Kurt Salmon Associates.
In 1996, activewear sales in the U.K., Japan and Germany probably increased slightly, due to the economic changes in each country, Ausler said. Annual expenditures in the U.S. should have increased 5 percent, based on the industry’s growth in 1996, he added.
Percentage That Knows Apparel Brand Before Entering Store
Response When Favorite Apparel Brand Is Not Available
U.S. U.K. Germany Japan
Go to another store 62% 67% 47% 35%
Purchase another brand 14% 16% 25% 25%
Ask store to order it 11% 9% 17% 29%
Return later to see if 11% 4% 12% 11%
brand is in stock
Spending Plans for 1996
U.S. U.K. Germany Japan
Planned to spend more 24% 24% 21% 32%
Planned to spend less 17% 17% 22% 20%
Planned to spend the same 59% 59% 57% 48%
Expenditures for Sports Apparel
in 1995 in 1996*
U.S. $243 $255
U.K. $387 $390
Germany $462 $466
Japan $286 $289
* Estimates provided by Kurt Salmon Associates.
Primary Uses of Sports Apparel
U.S. U.K. Germany* Japan**
Competition 11% 18% 4% 18%
Casual Attire 33% 27% 6% 38%
Recreation 56% 55% 89% 70%
* 1% of the respondents did not answer.
** Totals 126% because some respondents provided multiple answers.