As we approach the end of the year, we’re covering trends from key markets in 2022. We’ll recap the state of each industry over the past year, the ad strategies of its biggest players, and what we predict 2023 will hold.
The pandemic crushed certain industries—hospitality, restaurants, real estate, and travel come to mind first.
But what about the apparel industry?
Between a combination of store closures, excess inventory, and less demand for its product—did you wear sweatpants every day, too?—one could argue that the apparel industry was hit just as hard.
After gradually increasing between 2015 and 2019, revenue decreased by more than 11% in 2020.
With isolation behind us, return-to-office policies going into effect, and people eating out for the first time in years, the industry’s rebounding—and advertisers are spending big.
MediaRadar Insights on Apparel Advertising in 2022
Spending from apparel advertisers never went away. In fact, they spent more than $300mm every month in 2021, illustrating that even when the walls are crashing around them, they’re willing to spend.
That said, that’s a drop in the bucket compared to what they’ve spent this year.
Through Q3, apparel advertisers increased spending by 44% YoY to $6.5b—$2b more than they spent through October last year.
The most noticeable slowdown came in January, but that was likely more of a holiday reset than a pullback due to the environment. A similar reset may be in the cards for 2023.
Although spending dipped in January—the only month that didn’t see $500mm—Q1 was still up YoY. That level of spending continued throughout most of the year, with the average monthly investment increasing by 26%-86% YoY.
Overall, ad spending increased in Q1, Q2 and Q3 by 57%, 43%, and 40% YoY, respectively. The upward trend continued in October, increasing by 34% YoY.
Top Apparel Advertisers in 2022
Apparel holding companies were the top category through October, responsible for 8% or $497mm of the total apparel ad spend. Overall, ad spending increased by 98% YoY, thanks to big investments from H&M, Old Navy, and Puma.
Driving apparel advertising were brands in five categories: athletic wear, footwear, women’s designer fashion, sportswear, and fine jewelry.
Combined, these advertisers spent nearly $2.2b or 34% of the industry’s investment.
Athletic wear advertisers
Advertisers for athletic wear, which accounted for 8% of apparel advertising through October, spent $488mm, representing an 80% YoY increase. The biggest YoY increase came in O1 when spending jumped by 128%.
Fabletics, Nike, and Under Armour were the top spenders, combining to spend $270mm or 55% of the ad investment.
Through Q3, advertisers increased their budget by 305% YoY.
While one could argue that the triple-digit increase is due to the company’s catch-up-at-all attitude, the forcing factor is likely its looming IPO. This development would undoubtedly impact its ad strategy in 2023.
If an IPO isn’t in the cards, Fabletics’ ad strategy is still in limbo following the appointment of a new CMO and the opening of its first store in San Antonio, which diverts from the digitally native brand’s core DNA.
Nike marked its 50th anniversary with its biggest year ever—and its marketing team deserves some credit.
Through October, advertisers increased their budget by 88% YoY. From a revenue and advertising standpoint, Nike’s growth comes in tandem with its embrace of all-things digital, including the release of the first metaverse-driven “Cryptokicks.”
Nike’s penchant for digital innovation will likely transfer to its advertising strategy in 2023 and beyond.
Through October, advertisers increased their spending by 217% YoY as they tried to reposition the company in a favorable light with younger generations.
In September, Under Armour launched a campaign featuring Tom Brady that asked “Gen Z athletes to ditch toxic comparisons.” The notable shift to get in front of Gen Z will likely influence the company’s strategy in 2023 and could push dollars to premium placements as well as Instagram and other ecosystems popular with younger generations, like OTT.
Footwear advertisers increased spending by 72% YoY to $453mm (7% of the overall apparel ad spend), thanks to a post-holiday push that saw budgets jump by 65% YoY.
One of this category’s biggest spenders, TOMS, increased spending by 13x YoY.
After making a name for itself in the mid-2000s, TOMS is squarely in the midst of an advertising-fueled comeback.
Like Under Armour’s strategic shift, TOMS’ double-digital spike comes during an embrace of Generation Z.
Although this TikTok campaign launched in 2021, it speaks to TOMS’ mindset and where its ad dollars could go in the new year.
Skechers (up by 15% and 4x that of the next advertiser) and Oofos (up by 467% YoY) also increased their budgets through October. For the former, the increase comes following a record Q1 that saw revenue increase by nearly 27%.
Women’s designer fashion advertisers
Advertisers in the women’s designer fashion category, including Chanel International and LVMH, invested nearly $419mm through October, representing a 10% YoY increase.
If people were worried about the economy, Chanel’s revenue doesn’t show it—the luxury brand posted its highest revenue since it started reporting its numbers in 2018.
The revenue growth—despite the uncertain times—ignited spending across digital, print, and national TV. Overall, spending increased by 17% YoY; however, none of those ad dollars went to premium ad units.
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton (LVMH)
LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton rode its own wave of success—the company reported revenue increases of 28%—by boosting its spend by 14% YoY.
The company’s most recent splash came leading up to the World Cup with a now-viral campaign featuring two of the sport’s biggest stars: Christiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi.
Sportswear advertisers increased spending by 71% YoY to $308mm, thanks largely to a 103% YoY increase in Q3.
Interestingly, the category’s top spenders look drastically different than those leading the pack last year.
For Fresh Clean Threads and Pangaia Materials Science Limited (Pangaia), the increases come during equally significant go-to-market shifts. As a result, these two companies, along with Romona Holdings (True Classic Tees), accounted for 25% of the category’s ad investment.
Fresh Clean Threads
Fresh Clean Threads increased its ad investment by more than 14x as it pushed its new brand identity “to align with growing direct-to-consumer apparel business.”
Spending in 2023 will likely go one of two ways: A regression to the mean following the brand-awareness purge or a continued surge as it expands its product line.
Given the competition–including last year’s top spenders: Allbirds, Hanes, and Nike—it’s hard to imagine them not doing the latter.
Pangaia Materials Science Limited
In the wake of appointing its first CEO, Pangai increased its ad budget by 31x YoY.
Part of the company’s push included a Snapchat partnership to launch a virtual try-on augmented reality campaign that allowed Snapchat users to “try on” the brand’s sneakers, swipe through the colors, and buy them in the app.
Fine jewelry advertisers
Through October, fine jewelry advertisers increased spending by 37% YoY to $288mm.
A level deeper, Q1 increased by 61% YoY, while Q2 and Q3 experienced smaller jumps of 26% and 38% YoY, respectively.
Brilliant Earth was one of the category’s advertisers making the biggest moves.
Brilliant Earth increased spending by 33% YoY.
Much of this spending was dedicated to positioning itself and its store footprint, including new showrooms in Palo Alto and Baltimore—something the digitally native company hasn’t done before.
That said, the company didn’t venture too far from its roots, leaning exclusively into digital for premium placements through October.
Legacy players, including Compagnie Financiere Richemont (Cartier, Van Cleef & Arpels, etc.), and LVMH Moet Hennessy Louis Vuitton (Bulgari, Tiffany, etc.) increased spending as well by the tune of 8% and 88% YoY, respectively.
How Are Apparel Advertisers Shaping Up?
Apparel advertisers spent billions through Q3, but there are only two takeaways:
- They’re resilient
- They’re evolving
Despite the uncertain economy and gloomy outlook for 2023, consumers are still opening their wallets. Advertisers have followed suit, which will likely continue.
Some of these advertisers, however, are spending in different ways. For companies like TOMS, Under Armour, and Brilliant Earth, strategies are shifting considerably—and as they do, an advertising evolution will continue.
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