Home Blog Sneakernomics: Fast is the New Normal

The NPD Group Blog

Insights and Opinions From Analysts and Experts in More Than 20 Industries

Sneakernomics: Fast is the New Normal

Sneakernomics: Fast is the New Normal

Nov 14, 2016
Matt Powell, Vice President, Senior Industry Advisor ;
Apparel , Sports , Footwear

Everything seems faster today. Change is happening more quickly than ever, and nowhere is this need for speed more evident than in the sports industry. Let’s examine the impact.

One of the greatest weaknesses in the sports industry is speed-to-market. The industry is using the same business model that Phil Knight created 40 years ago. Products still take more than a year to move from concept to retail. Prototyping and sampling are time consuming and expensive. Goods spend months on boats from Asia.

But with some manufacturing breakthroughs, speed-to-market is improving. 3D printing has improved the time it takes to make prototypes and changes can be implemented quickly. Someday soon, 3D printing can actually be a part of the manufacturing process.

Brands are also taking labor steps (and therefore time) out of the manufacturing process. The Nike FlyKnit and Adidas Primeknit processes are great examples. The single-knitted upper is much simpler (and more sustainable) than traditional manufacturing techniques.

Brands are also starting to produce shoes on U.S. soil again. Under Armour has already sold shoes made here; Adidas announced its speed factory in Atlanta; and Reebok is doing some amazing work in their Liquid Factory. We can expect Nike to enter this arena soon.

When we look at the consumer/brand interface, we also see that speed has had an impact. Ordering online, especially on your smartphone, used to be a tedious and failure ridden process. Now that many retailers and brands have adopted a “mobile-first” strategy, shopping on your phone has never been easier.

Order delivery speed has also increased. “Free both ways” is the price of admission today. Amazon continues to find ways to get products to people faster. Companies that hope to compete must respond with quicker and frictionless delivery.

Last but not least, the speed of fashion change has also stepped up. We used to talk about fashion trends in the sports industry lasting decades. The 70’s was the running decade and the 80’s the basketball decade. Then we saw timelines begin to shrink to 5-8 years. The recent crash of the ‘performance basketball as fashion’ market proved that that trend lasted only three years. The speed of change is accelerating in the world of fashion.

Brands and retailers that embrace this increased velocity will succeed. Those that don’t will fail.


Related Blog Posts


April 18, 2018

Welcome to the neighborhood Nordstrom Rack

It’s been quite some time since Nordstrom announced that they were going to be opening their first Nordstrom Rack store in Canada; and since then, there has been significant buzz around when this was going to happen.

April 12, 2018

Sneakernomics: Are You Experienced?

The retail experience has never been more complicated, or more important. NPD’s Matt Powell explores the critical components that make a great experience, and what sports retailers can do about it.

April 3, 2018

Sneakernomics: Team Sports Equipment Year in Review

Overall for 2017, U.S. team sports equipment sales declined in the single digits, but below the surface it was a mixed bag, with notable pockets of growth.

March 26, 2018

The March Four’easter

With four snowstorms hitting the Northeast in March, seasons are blurring as late winter/early spring is seemingly colder and snowier than ever. Contrary to early ads touting sandal weather, boot sales in March have grown the last two years, with the top growing cities being New York, Philadelphia, Chicago and Boston.

Newsletter

Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View our privacy policy.

Follow Us

© The NPD Group, Inc.