How Retailers & CPG Suppliers Can Profit From The Active Wear Trend

Everywhere I look I see women wearing fashionable yoga style clothing as they run about their many daily activities.  Yoga style clothing has become very popular in the last few years and grocery and mass merchandiser stores have jumped on the bandwagon of this popular retail trend.

Loblaw is one example of a store that has followed the active wear trend with the adoption of various fashionable exercise clothes within the category at Joe Fresh outlets in Loblaw stores across the country.

Active wear has become popular, as part of people’s everyday wear and the active wear sales category has been outpacing the traditional clothing retailer category.

According to Camilo Lyon, managing director at Canaccord Genuity, “Over the past two-three years, the growth of athletic apparel companies has consistently outpaced the growth of traditional apparel companies.”

Ms. Lyon also explained that four key factors are driving the shift: the availability of better athletic fabrics, the newer fashion component, increased brand focus and, the fact that people are exercising more.

The women’s active wear market has experienced increased popularity and market research firm NPD Group reported sales in the US totaled $14.5 billion in 2013.

The NPD Group also reported that in Canada, just 19 per cent of active wear is purchased for sports or exercise, while one-third is bought for use as casual wear.

Lululemon is the company that is at the forefront of this competitive market.  Yogi Chip Wilson established it in 1998 in Vancouver, BC.  The company went public in 2007, raising $327.6 million and has been going strong ever since.  In fact, over the last 5 years, net revenues at Lululemon have increased 251% to $1,591.2 million in 2013.

Lululemon may have started the whole craze, but the market is becoming increasingly saturated as other retailers cash in.

In 2008, Gap acquired Athleta stores for online active wear sales and began opening up bricks and mortar stores in 2011.  It has also launched its own workout line, Gap Fit.

As international stores continue to move into Canada, consumers will continue to be provided with many different options in the active wear market.  They can continue to buy $100 yoga pants at Lululemon or shop for other lower cost alternatives from different stores.

Along with the increased popularity in the active wear market, North America has also experienced an increased popularity in yoga as a form of exercise, which enables retailers to focus on this market segment.

Mass merchandisers such as Wal-Mart have the ability to cross-merchandise other departments with the active wear market.  For example, retailers can offer incentives to customers to purchase active wear in the clothing department with the purchase of yoga-related equipment in the sports department.

Retailers such as Loblaw, Target and Wal-Mart have developed their own active wear merchandising programs designed to capture this market segment and they are also in a good position to tie in clothing merchandising with other core store businesses.

Given the focus of some of Canada’s largest retailers to build their apparel businesses we have seen very little in the way of support of these initiatives by CPG suppliers who’s products are normally found across the store from the George or Joe Fresh section of the store.

CPG suppliers could gain incremental display and drive multiple purchase by tying in with the apparel section of the store with offers like:

–       Buy 3 Special K brand products and receive a FREE Joe Fresh Active Long Yoga T-Shirt ($10 retail value)

–       Purchase a 12-pack of Power Bar energy bars and get a $10.00 Target Gift Card for C9 by Champion Athletic wear.

–       Buy $50 worth of Revlon Cosmetics and receive a FREE Hotspot Skinny Boot Pant at Walmart ($15 retail value)

Yoga wear is a segment that retailers can focus on to help increase business profit margins.  In Canada’s competitive market, retailers and suppliers need to be on the cutting edge of utilizing unique merchandising ideas in order to increase sales and yoga wear lands squarely in the sweet-spot with Mom’s who control the majority of spending on Grocery and Health & Beauty.

It’s not a “stretch” to imagine co-marketing opportunities for your brand and yoga wear!


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