Nike’s Winning the Word-of-Mouth War With Teens, While Converse and Reebok Decline

If brands want to win over teens, they have to give them something to talk about — and Nike is doing just that.

According to new research from Engagement Labs, a data and analytics firm that focuses on conversations about brands, 11.2 percent of shoppers between the ages of 13 and 20 talk about the sportswear giant on an average day, up 34 percent from 2013. This vaults Nike into the top five most-discussed brands among teens, behind only Apple brands, Coca-Cola and Samsung.

Over the course of 12 months, researchers surveyed 6,736 Gen Z consumers about their offline conversations, and compared the results with a similar data set from five years ago, as well as to consumers aged 21 and up. They found that teens are far more social overall (perhaps unsurprisingly, if you remember high school) and spend a good deal of their social time talking about products and services. In fact, members of the under-21 set have an average of 13.4 of these conversations, compared with 9.9 for people 21 and older.

Unfortunately, other sneaker brands aren’t getting nearly as much airtime as Nike is. Reebok, for one, fell 38 percent in terms of teens that said they talked about the brand each day. (While industry experts say a resurgence could be around the corner for the brand’s classic silhouettes, they haven’t quite picked up yet.) Converse, likewise, dipped 18 percent, mirroring the decline in the brand’s overall sales that parent company Nike has reported in recent quarters.

One surprising name on the list of brands losing “conversation currency” is Vans, which saw revenues skyrocket by double digits last year and is on track to see similar growth in 2018. Puma, too, has gotten a significant sales boost from its work with celebrities like Selena Gomez and Rihanna, both of whom have huge youth followings. Still, both brands saw conversation dip 15 percent over 2013.

According to Brad Fay, chief commercial officer of Engagement Labs and the principal author of the report, this could mean these brands are seeing more interest from the millennial segment than the under-21 generation. “Teenagers are more of a barometer of the future, and thus these brands need to be concerned they are not connecting with them as well as they did five years ago,” Fay told FN. “In this context, Nike’s success with teens today is impressive indeed.”

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