Brooks Is Still Beating Nike in Women’s Performance Running — and the Gap Is Getting Wider

Brooks is continuing to pull away from Nike in the women’s performance running shoe race.

Matt Powell, senior sports industry adviser with The NPD Group Inc., reported via Twitter on Monday that Brooks was the largest women’s performance running shoe brand for Q1 2021, besting athletic powerhouse Nike for the top spot. He also cited data from the NPD retail tracking service, revealing a Q1 sales increase of 88% for Brooks over its mark for the same period in 2019. Nike, on the other hand, experienced a 35% decline for the same period, according to Powell.

“Brooks has been building very strong product for a while now, I think the marketing that they’re running is appropriate — particularly for the new runner — they very judicially expanded their distribution, and I think all of that is paying off for them,” Powell told FN.

As for Nike, Powell said the brand has lost some ground to Brooks because of the types of product it is focusing on.

“I think Nike has been much more focused on the fashion side of the business, which a year ago I would have said was exactly the right thing to do,” Powell said. “But the market has really changed and I think we’re going to see more and more interest on the part of the consumer in performance products — particularly running and hiking shoes.”

The ascent of Brooks in the women’s running shoe business should come as no surprise.

In January, Powell stated Brooks had the potential to pass Nike as the No. 1 women’s performance running shoe brand after finishing second to the Swoosh in 2020. For the year, according to Powell, Brooks’ sales in the category were up about a third, and Nike’s sales were down roughly 20%.

The next month, Powell revealed that Brooks had taken the No. 1 position in the category from Nike for January. Also, Brooks earned a top 10 spot on the overall best-selling sneakers list in January — which Powell said was a first for the brand. (The look that cracked the top 10 was the Brooks Ghost 13.)

With momentum on its side, Powell doesn’t believe Brooks will lose that No. 1 spot in women’s performance run to Nike in the foreseeable future.

“I don’t see anything that changes with the trajectory [in performance product sales] that we’re on. Brooks has been trending up and Nike has been trending down — even before January — and in January, we saw the volume tip over where Brooks had No. 1 volume. I expect this to continue,” Powell said.

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