Beyond the Field

Athletic apparel opens the doors to many markets: It's not just for athletes anymore. You'll see it on people at the grocery store, in the park, at the gym – and on the young, middle-aged and old alike.

An effective selling point to generate sales other than team uniforms is to argue the multipurpose value of athletic garments. An analysis of apparel trends from July 2013 to June 2014 by The NPD Group found there are three primary uses for activewear: sport/exercise, yes, but also casual use and school. "Activewear is booming, with sales growth exceeding that of the apparel market as a whole, and it's because consumers are wearing activewear not only to the gym, in the gym and from the gym, but they are working out, going out and even hanging out in activewear," says Marshal Cohen, chief industry analyst at The NPD Group. "Consumers are drawn to its comfort and versatility, and the fact that it still makes a fashion statement. Activewear, by nature, also evokes a sense of athleticism and wellbeing, which only adds to its appeal."

In its "Market View Insights" report, Cotton Incorporated says that one-third of non-active adults own athletic wear. Among active consumers, Cotton Incorporated reports that in addition to exercising, athletic garments are also worn around the house (85%), running errands (65%) and shopping (42%). The top three ways these consumers are exercising: walking, cardio and running.

Baby Boomers in particular are a growing market. WebMD's feature "Fitness After 50: The Gym Goes Gray" reports that people over 50 make up the fastest-growing segment of the fitness population. Not only is this generation a sizable cohort, but a lucrative one too, controlling three-fourths of America's wealth. This group is bucking the old-school perception of seniors. They're willing to work out to feel young and healthy.

Staying healthy brings up another key market for athletic wear: corporations. A study by Fidelity Investments found that in 2014, corporations set aside an average of $594 per employee for wellness incentives, up from the previous year. In addition, 93% plan to expand or maintain their investment within the next five years.

This opens the door to practically all the markets within your client base. It's worth a look to see who needs a workout.