Adidas Versus Nike: Survey Says This Brand Is an Online ‘Genius’

Adidas has all the right digital moves, according to the latest study by market research firm Gartner L2.

The athletic brand — which has been enjoying blockbuster growth in North America following its resurgence in the region in 2015 — dethroned Nike to top this year’s Activewear US Digital IQ Index as the sole “genius” brand.

“Adidas exemplifies the potential for achieving growth via direct-to-consumer sales, both online and offline,” the researchers said.

The study, which quantified the digital competence of 74 “activewear” companies in the U.S., sought to diagnose digital strengths and weaknesses of brands such as Nike, Under Armour, Timberland, New Balance and Adidas.

The researchers took into account factors such as the effectiveness of a label’s email marketing (message open rate, photos, video content), website customer service and product customization tools, social media engagement and ad impressions on mobile.

Based on those factors, companies were ranked as genius, gifted, average, challenged and feeble.

Ultimately, Adidas landed in the top spot and was the only brand to earn “genius” status — a feat Nike had accomplished in the previous year.

Despite being the highest trafficked site, Nike suffered from “lagging investment” that contributed to its falling from “genius” to “gifted,” the researchers said, noting that category pages on the brand’s website lacked helpful features such as quick view.

Nevertheless, there were several positives for the athletic behemoth. L2 said Nike’s social media pages enjoyed “outsized engagement across platforms” and its Instagram “dwarfs” the next-largest Instagram community’s size 3-to-1.

Meanwhile, Adidas’ website boasts “content-rich” prerelease and product-launch pages features video and user-generated content and supports live inventory on product pages and cross-selling at checkout, according to the report.

Baltimore-based Under Armour held the No. 3 spot on the list — also scoring as “gifted” — as the researchers observed “substantially increased” investment in video display advertising across its digital marketing as well as robust search and navigation tools on its e-commerce site.

L.L. Bean and REI rounded out the top five, landing at No. 4 and No. 5, respectively.

Timberland, Patagonia, The North Face, New Balance and Vans completed the top 10 (brands listed in order of ranking) — all receiving the “gifted” designation.

Charitable shoe brand Toms and boot label Sorel were among the companies to receive an “average” rating, with the researchers suggesting the latter’s website was docked points for not offering free shipping. (Saucony, Teva and Wolverine also received an “average” score.)

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