Nike was crowned teens’ favorite clothing brand for the ninth year in a row — here’s why Gen Z can’t get enough

Teens love Nike.

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Teens love Nike.
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Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images

  • Nike dominated in Piper Jaffray’s semi-annual survey of teen shopping habits, landing in the top spot in the favorite apparel and footwear categories, as well as coming in second only to Amazon in the favorite e-commerce site rankings.
  • The athletic company is proving it has enduring appeal among young shoppers. It has retained the No. 1 ranking in teen brand preferences since spring 2011, according to the report.
  • Nike’s ability to resonate with Gen Z shoppers is reflective of its largest sales wins in North America, across consumers both young and old.
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Teens just can’t get enough Nike.

The retailer secured the top spot for both favorite apparel and footwear brand in the latest report on teen shopping habits from Piper Jaffray. Notably, the brand also scored highly among men and women alike in the favorite e-commerce site category, coming in second only to Amazon.

In the study – which collected responses from 9,500 shoppers in 42 states, with an average age of 15.8 years old – researchers pointed to the continued popularity of athletic brands among young shoppers in recent years, as part of a push toward a “casualization of fashion.”

“Our survey firmly points to the ongoing and secular trends in athletic with brands like Lululemon seeing new highs among teens, as well as Nike reaccelerating,” the study states. “The seven of the top-ten footwear brands are athletic brands/retailers and five of the top-ten apparel brands are now athletic vs. three last year.”

Read more: Teens reveal their favorite clothing brands

Part of Nike’s success among teens comes from smart marketing campaigns and taking bold stances on social issues, according to Jeff Carvalho, managing director of Highsnobiety. High-profile efforts, like a Nike campaign featuring NFL star Colin Kaepernick, have further elevated the company to Gen Z, Carvalho told Business Insider in September.

“Nike has become not just a commodity, but a statement,” he said. “When you try to reach a new young consumer on their playing field and on their terms, it’s no longer simply putting out a great product. You now have to be a company that can stand behind something because the consumer today is demanding that.”

However, while recent buzzy ads have helped the brand gain traction, it turns out teen enthusiasm for Nike is more than just a flash in the pan – Piper Jaffray found the retailer has managed to solidify an enduring place as the top spot in their hearts for the past nine years.

Ultimately, Nike’s success with teens is a microcosm of the company’s larger gains with North American consumers, both young and old. In September, the brand exceeded Wall Street expectations with North American sales that grew by 4% in the first fiscal quarter of 2020.

According to experts, another key factor for this growth is Nike’s experimentation with design – including incorporating eco-conscious fabrics and designs – as well as its concerted effort around inclusivity like recently featuring plus-size mannequins for the first time.

“Nike is figuring out how to extend its brand image in authentic ways which is enabling it to gain new customers,” UBS analysts wrote in a note after Nike’s earnings call in September. “Nike is further defining itself not just as a sports brand, but also a health & wellness brand. We think it’s working.”