expanded into the luxury
sportswear market by creating ‘sports lines’ of their existing line. For
example, world-renowned luxury brand Prada have been successful in capturing
significant market share in the sportswear market with their sport line ‘Prada
Sport’ (Lim et al., 2016). This targets a
more accessible luxury segment of consumers by appealing to a more diverse
spectrum of consumer preferences (Zheng et al., 2013).

2.6 Brand influence on sportswear

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Consumers perceive brand to be a symbol of quality (Rao
and Monroe, 1989) high status, and hence opt for brands that are modern and
cosmopolitan (Lee et al., 2008) in
order to enhance their identity in society (Dickson and Pollack, 2000).
Consumers consider brands not only as the representation of a company but also
as status, identity, financial background and the general living of a person
hence why many consumers buy brands due to the brand image in the market (Tong
and Hawley, 2009). According to Tong and Hawley (2009) the sportswear market is
one of the most heavily branded areas in the global apparel market estimated holding
that over three-quarters of the total active sportswear market are branded.
Branding remains the industry’s largest source of competitive advantage. This
is an area of clothing in which customers’ purchasing choices are frequently
determined by the sports figures they admire, or the teams they follow, and the
brands they aspire to wear (Newbery, 2008). The growing interest of consumers
both as participants and speculators adds to the increased demand in sportswear
(Tong and Su, 2014). In spite of the reports being made for the custom of
wearing athletic clothing, interestingly no research appears to have been
published which looks at the functional aspects of wearing a uniform
contributing to the athletic performance. Nash’s (1977) account of runners used clothing for identification and
status providing further evidence integrating the influence of appearance in
sportswear. Likewise Wheat and Dickson (1999) found golfers satisfaction
occurred most frequently when respondents were pleased with the expressive
characteristics such as style and branding. What makes this finding noteworthy
is the emphasis on the fact that in relation to role identity although golfers
were satisfied with the brand name on their uniform they were often
dissatisfied with the actual product (Wheat & Dickson, 1999). Therefore
athletes appear to be willing to sacrifice performance aspects of sportswear for
prestigious and fashionable brand names.

Consumers believe that brand name is a symbol of quality
and status and hence is used as a source of information about a credence
property (Teas and Grapentine, 1996). There are various factors that influence
the increased demand of sports clothing and the major ones are garments
prevailed as a fashion trend, casual wear, lifestyle, leisure activity and
well-being trends (Ko et al.,
2012). Therefore the buying behavior in sportswear shows a change in pattern
from function to fashion/leisurewear and this researcher assumes that this
could be as a result of the brand name and the perception of the brand in the
mind of the consumers. The change in the pattern of buying behavior is
evidenced by new research from Mintel in 2016 showing that 50% of consumers who bought sports clothing, footwear,
equipment or accessories did so for non-sports use and 34% purchased
fashionable sportswear that can be worn when not exercising (Mintel.com,
2017) Furthermore, 32% of purchasers say they prefer to buy from sports
retailers who follow the latest fashion trends (Mintel.com, 2017). In
addition the women’s sportswear market in particular is becoming more demanding
as customers become more fashion conscious and opt for items fit for all
occasions. Demonstrated in (Catalyst Corporate Finance, 2014) women
have a desire for fashionable workout clothing with an increased emphasis on
versatility, convenience, fashion, comfort and style appeal with clothing that
offers both functional performance and style appeal.