Why the US activewear market is hotter than ever

Alison Wiltshire

16 Apr 2024

After an explosion in demand during the pandemic, clothing that crosses the boundaries of lounging to sports (known as athleisure or activewear, depending on your energy levels and the label you want to add) is now an everyday lifestyle look loved by teens to middle-agers alike in a market in which retailers and brands are fighting for prominence.

It’s not surprising – what’s not to adore about a style that allows us to look good with minimum effort while also being comfy and cozy.

Activewear also suggests that we might be doing more than we actually are. We might look like we’re off to the gym when we are just planning a gentle stroll with a friend or relaxing indoors. We might be hard at work or not working at all – no one cares.

Strengthening athleisure sales

Sales are booming, with Grand View Research predicting a global compound annual growth of 9.3% from 2024 to 2030. The market was valued at US$358.1 billion in 2023, and North America holds the largest share, more than 30%.

This makes activewear a key growth category for retailers and brands. For example, the popular activewear brand Fabletics positions its collections as fashion-forward, high-performance activewear accessible to all. After more than a decade in existence, it has more than 2.3 million members within its VIP membership subscription sales program and sells in 95 locations globally. Cosmopolitan has described its pants as “perfect for the gym, a party or a night out with the gals”.

Making the right purchase decisions

Whichever of these reasons activewear shoppers are buying for, they still want to make the best purchase decisions. However, with such a mix of reasons for buying, it can be hard for retailers and brands to surface the information shoppers might need to persuade them to buy. And that can also lead to cart abandonment and lost sales. One customer might be wondering about the technical aspects of a fabric, while the next might be more concerned about how comfy it is or simply want the hottest new look.

The role of social proof messaging

This is where social proof messaging can provide an added dimension to the customer experience, helping customers in an increasingly saturated market. It can help highlight trending or in-demand items by portraying how many items have been added to cart in a certain time period or by highlighting bestsellers.

Fabletics increased conversion rates by 3.19% when introducing social proof messaging to its website. Popularity and trending messaging prompt customers to buy.

This signposting of popular products helps to drive confidence – reducing cart abandonment and returns.

With advanced optimization messaging, meanwhile, you can incorporate everything from review messaging to recommendations, or low inventory feeds into your social proof messaging to help customers buy more.

Hard-to-find product information, such as the technical fabric details that the customer was looking for earlier, can, meanwhile, be highlighted with eXtended messaging, which helps to highlight relevant product attribute messages.

Leveraging social proof messaging across the customer journey

By leveraging social proof messaging across the customer journey, you can create dynamic and relevant shopping experiences that help customers navigate a range of purchase decision factors that better enable them to buy. You can aid product discovery and improve the time to first click on the PLP, reduce bounce rates on the PDP and on the cart page, reduce cart abandonment and increase conversions.

The use cases are numerous, and the results are fast and impressive. When Sportsshoes.com integrated social proof messaging on its website, it boosted conversion rates by 4.5% in only three weeks. The company was so impressed with the results that it rolled social proof messaging out across its entire website.

In a market as crowded as activewear, ensuring your online customer experience stands out is essential to success. Is your online activewear offer fit for purpose? Try our free conversion calculator to understand the impact it might have on your business, or get in touch to find out more.

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