Nike vs. Under Armour: Which Brand Is Resonating With Affluent Male Shoppers?

Despite recent controversial headlines and notable culture missteps, male shoppers continue to vote for Nike — particularly those in higher income brackets, according to survey results just released by Canaccord Genuity.

According to data from the study, Nike is gaining ground in a lucrative demographic. When asked to rate the most innovative athletic apparel brand, 44% of male consumers with annual incomes of $60,000 to $150,000 picked Nike. That’s up from 38% in the investment firm’s previous survey.

At the same time, the percentage of men in the same demographic who perceived Under Armour as the most innovative brand decreased to 12% from 17% in the prior survey. By contrast, male shoppers who make below $60,000 are showing a greater affinity toward Under Armour. Overall, 28% of men in this group picked the brand as the most innovative versus 25% previously.

The intent of the survey was to gauge consumers’ views of athletic apparel brands against key attributes (innovation, fashion style and value) as well as future purchase intent. The target sample size of 1,000 men and 1,000 women was narrowed to respondents who had made an athletic apparel purchase within the past six months. Overall, 721 men and 695 women across broad U.S. demographics composed the sample set.

Under Armour headquarters baltimore
Under Armour’s headquarters in Baltimore.
CREDIT: Courtesy of Under Armour

The results also show that the Baltimore-based company founded by Kevin Plank also seems to be skewing older when it comes to consumers’ opinions of how fashionable it is. The survey said that Under Armour gained the most traction among men ages 50 to 64 — 23% viewed the brand as most fashionable versus 16% in the last survey.

“This suggests that the brand’s once premium status has faltered among higher earners, likely due to its channel expansion decisions and poor segmentation,” analysts Camilo Lyon and Pallav Saini wrote in a research note.

Under Armour’s recent struggles have been well documented. While its plan to recalibrate the business after a period of softening growth showed new signs of progress in the fourth quarter, the firm’s struggling North American business could have a ways to go before any rebound becomes consistent.

During the period, sales in the region fell 6 percent to $965 million as international business continued to gain, increasing 24% to $395 million. Additional analysis showed that Adidas is resonating with men, but the brand is losing traction with women. Perhaps that’s one reason why the athletic giant made a bold move to team up with Beyonce last week on footwear and apparel.

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