Sportswear Loyalty Programs: A Comprehensive Guide

Tap into your customers’ athletic lifestyle to connect with them. Here are 10 strategies for effective sportswear loyalty programs.

Antavo’s cover for the sportswear loyalty programs guide without text..

The sporting goods and activewear industries are booming as more and more people become proactive about their physical and emotional well-being. So it’s no surprise that the global activewear market is expected to reach a value of US$ 500.55 billion by 2027. The market is saturated and competition is high. On top of this, fast fashion apparel companies, like H&M, have also carved out a space for themselves with their own athleisure collections. Let’s see how sportswear loyalty programs help these companies forge a stronger bond with customers, as well as drive other important business KPIs.

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Key Takeaways – TL; DR

  • Sportswear loyalty programs can be a great way to win the industry price war.
  • Discounts aren’t enough – you’ll need to add something extra to your loyalty program in order to win.
  • You need to motivate members to keep working out and choosing your products for the long run.
  • Introducing a sport tracker in your loyalty program, adding a leaderboard, or using challenges are excellent methods to engage customers. 
  • From our examples, you’ll see that the biggest brands make sure they provide memorable moments within their loyalty programs.

A solid concept is at the heart of any successful sportswear loyalty program. Download our worksheet to make sure you develop a rewards program that truly fits your business.

What Are Sportswear Loyalty Programs?

Sportswear loyalty programs are customer retention tools designed to increase customer lifetime value, boost in-store traffic, generate word-of-mouth and promote an active lifestyle, among other key actions. Creating a successful loyalty program in sports is similar to running a marathon: both require a lot of steps! But the reason so many companies stumble at the starting line is that they are fixated on giving discounts or rewarding transactional behavior. 

Headshot of Andrew Doyle, Managing Principal & Practice Head at EPAM

In the sportswear industry, there’s an engaged consumer base that other sectors may envy. The challenge as many of these brands make the pivot from product organisations to retail organisations, is that they struggle to convert these engaged consumers into buying consumers and even fewer into repeat buying consumers. For sportswear brands, the key is a membership program that connects the consumer into commerce in contextually relevant ways that stay true to the brand promise. Things like achievements in sport to unlock rewards for kit and exclusive access to high hype products for fashion seeking consumers.

Andrew Doyle

Managing Principal & Practice Head at EPAM

Tapping Into the Sporty Lifestyle

Let me tell you a secret: brand alignment happens outside the store. Those who are wearing athleisure or fine footwear do it for the experience, as activewear represents self-discovery and wellness. You need to tap into this lifestyle and be present for customers during everyday moments. Being able to engage shoppers outside of the buying cycle will help you stand out from the competition and increase customer lifetime value.

Headshot of Nicola Antonelli, CMO at LuisaViaRoma

Our experience has taught us that customers who are engaged with the loyalty program and redeem our rewards are also customers who spend more money on our website, and they do it more often. 18% of our customers redeemed at least one reward and they represented 56% of total revenue. This proves that loyalty really drives both revenue and retention.

Nicola Antonelli

CMO at LuisaViaRoma

The Biggest Customer Retention Opportunities in the Sports Industry

There is a price war going on in the sportswear industry, so you’ll need something extra to win: a powerful differentiator. You must give customers another reason to shop. Discounts aren’t enough. Even if customers expect them, they might shrink your profit margin. Discount-led behavior won’t change overnight but, meanwhile, you can foster a “rewards-must-be-earned” mindset by gamifying the customer journey.

Other important KPIs that loyalty programs drive include:

  • Increasing basket value
  • Cost-effectively rewarding already loyal customers
  • Multiplying the touchpoints and boosting footfall
  • Establishing an addictive brand experience
  • Creating thematic and seasonal campaigns
  • Discovering and supporting influencers and brand advocates
  • Promoting sustainability and other movements
Headshot of Sarah Curran-Usher, Managing Director of EMEA at True Fit

I actually believe there are two challenges that retailers face here, whichare similar: the first being keeping loyal customers and the second being turning new shoppers into loyal customers. Understanding the needs of your most loyal shoppers is key to keeping them, and the innovations that are most meaningful to them may surprise you.

Sarah Curran-Usher

Managing Director of EMEA at True Fit

10 Best Features in Sportswear Loyalty Programs 

Whether your customers do sports just for fun, it’s their passion, or they need to take care of their health, you need to motivate them to keep working out and choosing your products over the long run. Learn how sportswear loyalty programs can support you.

Headshot of Pete Robertshaw, Head Of Commerce Consultancy at space48.com

We often find that the sportswear space has great opportunities for driving customer retention. For example, customers who are investing in sportswear are generally fit and active people so the retailer could look to reward them for staying active in the sportswear purchased from them. Through the use of Strava and other fitness apps, retailers could offer money off next purchases or cash back once certain fitness milestones have been achieved (e.g. running 5km a week for 10 weeks).

Pete Robertshaw

Head Of Commerce Consultancy at space48.com

1. Introduce a Mobile Sports Tracker in Your Loyalty Program

There are plenty of sports tracker apps that help people set goals based on their current fitness level and motivate them to stay on track. Of course, you can contribute to your customers’ success with the accessories and sportswear you provide, but you can also provide additional motivation by incorporating a fitness tracker app into your loyalty program. That will allow you to reward customers for the exercises they track. 

Bergzeit’s loyalty program.
Mountaineering product retailer Bergzeit wanted to reward members not only for shopping but also for living an athletic lifestyle. Find out how they did it in our case study

2. Give Customers the Know-How

Sports are a science. Even at the beginner’s stage, people need information about how they can improve, grow and succeed. They need to know how much they should exercise a week, what kind of activities they need to do to achieve their goals, how they can avoid injuries, or even what foods can boost the impact of their workouts. One cannot succeed without an understanding of how the body works. Use this opportunity to provide helpful content as a members-only benefit. To make sure their customers consume your content, offer additional points for reading your articles.

Rebel Active loyalty program gives members access to exclusive articles with tips for improving performance.
Rebel’s Rebel Active loyalty program lets members access exclusive articles with tips on improving their performance. 
Headshot of Kris Dimitroff, Global Director, ISV Partnerships at Emarsys

It’s no surprise that loyal customers can be a sportswear brand’s most valuable asset. Their love for your brand makes them spend more, resulting in brand advocates who are more likely to share positive brand experiences online, and help you grow your customer base. The challenge is to hold your customer’s attention and loyalty, amid an increasingly complex consumer landscape and heavy competition from other brands. Brands need to create and deliver the kind of highly relevant, personalized customer experiences that turn fair-weather shoppers into loyal brand advocates.

Kris Dimitroff

Global Director, ISV Partnerships at Emarsys

3. Provide Goals Within the Loyalty Program

You can encourage your customers to achieve even more through your loyalty program. There are plenty of potential achievements in a loyalty program that customers can work toward. Create a leaderboard on the homepage of your loyalty program and let customers compete to earn the most points. It will incentivize them to stay active in your program and rouse their competitive spirit at the same time. 

You can also elevate the customer journey or get members closer to a valuable reward by offering bonus points events. Plus, the extra benefit will encourage customers to make purchases right away, helping you reduce cart abandonment.

In Eastern Mountain Sports’ rewards program, customers can double their benefits during double points periods.
In Eastern Mountain Sports’ rewards program, customers can double their progress during double-points campaigns.

4. Make the In-store Shopping Experience Truly Special

People love participating in game-like events, especially when there’s a prize on the line. The next time you have a store opening, hide a few bonus objects on the shelves as a part of an in-store treasure hunt. The point of this game is to have customers search through the store and scan the barcodes with their phones. Once all product barcodes are captured, you can reward customers with bonus points, a gift bag, or sweepstakes enrollment. 

Organizing in-store events like this convinces customers to pay a visit to your stores and check out the latest deals. Chances are these customers already have loyalty points waiting to be spent, so they’ll grab a product or two and head to the cash register.

In-store treasure hunts encourage customers to discover every area of your store.
Treasure hunts are a fun way to direct customers’ attention to your latest products or other items you have in stock.

5. Learn More About Customer Preferences Through Gamification

Incentivizing customers to fill out their user profiles and integrating virtual fitting aren’t the only sources of data. To discover more about their likes and dislikes, favorite brands and personalities, use gamified surveys.

  • Quizzes are an ideal way to collect a large number of answers with customers choosing between liking or disliking a certain product
  • For more abstract topics, such as personality traits or personal style, visual quizzes help customers conceptualize the answers
  • One-click or multiple-choice questions are best when the answer includes an explanation
  • Classic NPS surveys feature a rated scale or slider, allowing you to gather more nuanced data on consumer preferences
  • If educating customers is your goal, consider using quizzes to test whether or not customers have read or watched your content
Antavo’s Enterprise Loyalty Cloud backend image.
Gamification, such as earning points, badges, or leveling up, makes the loyalty program more engaging and enjoyable for participants. This heightened engagement encourages customers to stay active in the program.

6. Friend Referral Programs That Benefit All Parties

Social referrals are so valuable. Since it was revealed that the vast majority of people seek and accept friend recommendations when considering a purchase, marketers have done their best to make the most of word-of-mouth marketing and social referrals. In sportswear, recommendations might be worth even more, as people with the same interests and needs gather on regular occasions over shared experiences. Introducing some kind of social mechanism into your loyalty program is a must.

Motivate referred friends to act on referrals by giving them an instant discount, and encouraging them to accept the invitation. Sophisticated loyalty programs reward referrals that result in new registrations or purchases. This way they make sure that recommendations really drive value for them. You should also encourage members to refer your brand to family and friends by rewarding them, thus making them feel appreciated for their efforts.

Sample friend referral program by Antavo.
Give advocates and influencers special treatment in order to generate buzz around your company. Some of the perks associated with being a brand ambassador include VIP services, free items, and special discounts.

7. Create Personalized Offers

The majority of customers expect some kind of personalization in their relationship with a brand and, in fact, this is a high priority in driving loyalty. With the development of marketing automation systems, personalization has become much easier than before. The key is collecting the right information from your customers

A loyalty program is a perfect platform for getting to know your customers. There are customers who don’t like providing information about themselves and their shopping habits, so encourage them by rewarding them with extra loyalty points for their answers!

During loyalty program registration, Dunham’s asks about their customers’ favorite sports.
When customers sign up for their loyalty program, Dunham’s asks about customers’ favorite sports so that they can send them personalized offers via email.

8. Gain Virality on Social Media

Customers tend to listen more to friends’ and family members’ opinions than to corporate advertisements. One way to use this tendency to your advantage is to extend your rewards system to Facebook and Instagram. For example, offer members points for linking their social media profiles to their accounts or for publicly sharing their favorite product pages.

But to achieve true virality, you’ll need something even crazier: social media contests. Ask customers to leave a comment with a specific hashtag or to upload images wearing your products to enter the contest. Then you can give a small reward to everyone, or give away one big prize, appointing judges to pick the best entry.

Setting up a hashtag contest on Instagram.
When it comes to choosing a prize for the contest, make sure to consider physical gifts or experiences, because they are more emotionally engaging than discounts. 

9. Reward Customers Who Participate in Community Events or Donate 

Working out triggers endorphins that make us feel happier, and help to reduce stress and depression. This is especially true, if we get fit together with a community, spending time with our friends and making new ones. People love to build communities around sports, so don’t forget about this while you’re planning your loyalty program.

Make sure you reward customers who join and help grow sporting communities. Let customers collect points for making donations, or checking in from their mobile device while attending local community sporting events. Alternatively, offer rewards that help communities grow. Offering special team accessories, point donations, and sporting event tickets as rewards will encourage people to do sports together.

Encourage members to join your fitness community by rewarding them in exchange.
Encourage a healthy lifestyle with a club dedicated to sharing helpful fitness tips or fun recipes with members.

10. Build a Like-Minded VIP Community

Create a private VIP group for your most dedicated shoppers. Imagine your very own closed club, which can be accessed only after paying an entrance fee in loyalty points. Upon entering, members receive access to unique and exclusive perks. The benefits can include: 

  • Posts and advice by lifestyle experts on how to create a workout routine or adopt healthier habits
  • Motivational quotes by brand influencers
  • A leaderboard where members can compare Fitbit scores
  • The opportunity to be a part of the brand’s promotional campaign
Forming an exclusive loyalty community.
Form a community around your most popular product category. Membership can be time-limited and requires renewal, but participants gain access to exclusive benefits in return.

10 Inspiring Sportswear Loyalty Programs Examples

See how some of the biggest sports brands are turning both in-store and online purchases into memorable moments for customers with their sports loyalty programs:

Headshot of Radek Hrachovec, Customer Loyalty Expert at Voxwise

Sport is not fashion. When a person finds perfect gear, he or she uses it for quite a long time. So we are in a situation when our customer is very satisfied, using our product quite often and the next purchase occasion is months away. Here comes the playground for a loyalty program, because its aim is to keep the customer engaged in the meantime, between purchases. People deserve to be rewarded for their activities, for their achievements. They need to feel that they belong to a community of like-minded people. The trick is to find a way to form small groups of close customers who can share their experiences together.

Radek Hrachovec

Customer Loyalty Expert at Voxwise

1. Nike – Nike Membership

Nike is the largest supplier of sports apparel and footwear in the world, and its brand is recognizable everywhere. The brand’s loyalty program, Nike Membership, is a free perks program, which means that instead of collecting points, the emphasis is on community building. Most of the program’s benefits are instantly available to all members. Customers even receive access to a members-only shop once they enroll.

Nike’s loyalty program.
Nike’s loyalty program is a great example of how partner benefits and cross-brand promotions can elevate the loyalty concept.
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Why it works:

  • Tracking workout progress using Nike’s dedicated app gives users personalized access to limited edition product collections that correspond to the training activities they do most.  
  • Nike has partnered with Apple Music, ClassPass, and Headspace to offer access to music, fitness classes, and guided meditation for their members as well.
  • Members enjoy perks like free-shipping, receiptless returns, and even a 60-day wear test for sneakers.

2. Adidas – adiClub

Adidas is an international retailer of sportswear and footwear for all ages,  known for its soccer apparel and equipment and classic sneaker styles such as the Stan Smith. Its program, adiClub, is an interactive and rewarding loyalty program with four different tiers.

adiClub membership page.
Adidas encourages customers to live an active lifestyle by rewarding members for using its workout app.
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Why it works:

  • The membership program simplifies how customers can buy shoes, allows them to shop sales first, and provides access to exclusive items.
  • Members earn 10 points for every $1 spent. The four-tiered loyalty program is based on points, and customers who reach the top tiers unlock benefits, including premium features of the Adidas’ app and birthday bonuses.
  • The true success of the adiClub membership program lies in the exclusive experiential rewards members receive. Adidas offers customers several money-can’t-buy experiences, such as signed jerseys and an opportunity to train with their professional sports heroes. 

3. Girlfriend Collective – The Collective

Girlfriend Collective is a sustainable activewear brand for women based in the United States. The brand has become increasingly popular among young, earth-conscious shoppers who want to maintain an athletic lifestyle. Its loyalty program rewards a variety of actions, both transactional and non-transactional.

Girlfriend Collective’s tiered loyalty program.
The Collective also has a tiered system based on lifetime spend. As customers climb the tier ladder, they receive more points for purchases, early access and special gifts.
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Why it works:

  • Members receive 25 points instantly when they join the program. They can also get points for other non-transactional actions, such as writing product reviews or following the brand on Instagram.
  • Members are encouraged to refer their friends and receive free products in return.
  • The loyalty program also rewards customers for making positive lifestyle choices. Members receive 50 points for posting images that showcase good deeds (volunteering, planting trees, doing charity) to Instagram with the hashtag #GOODJOBGF.

4. Rip Curl – Club Rip Curl

Founded in 1969, Rip Curl has been the market leader in surfwear for over 50 years. The Rip Curl membership program, Club Rip Curl, is built around passion and inclusivity. It connects and rewards people who have a passion and love for all things surrounding surfing and the beach lifestyle. For the first time in the world, members can also earn points for surfing. Members who are registered users of a Rip Curl Search GPS watch and app receive 200 Points for every wave they surf.

One of the highlights of Club Rip Curl is that members receive points not just for transactions, but also for activities like surfing or completing their customer profiles.
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Why it works:

  • Rewarding customers for being themselves connects the brand with its target audience’s values and aspirations, establishing long-lasting brand love. 
  • Thanks to the connection between Rip Curl’s Search GPS watch technology and Antavo Enterprise Loyalty Cloud, members immediately receive points when they go surfing.
  • To provide well-targeted and relevant offers and ensure a better understanding of their customers, Rip Curl incentivizes profile completion by offering bonus points to members.

5. Skechers – VIP Membership

Skechers Plus is a loyalty program in which members can earn points and redeem them for reward certificates and other offers. Members also receive benefits like extended returns, free standard shipping, and birthday rewards. Customers unlock more benefits as they become Silver tier and Gold tier members.

Members can earn points by making purchases or by answering surveys and taking quizzes. 

Customers receive 1,000 bonus points when they download the Skechers app, where they can track their points, redeem rewards, and enjoy a personalized shopping experience.

There’s a spend requirement for customers to qualify for subsequent tiers. In addition, members must complete their online account to receive access to the Silver and Gold tiers. This way the company gets the customer data it needs to provide better personalization.Members can earn points by making purchases or by answering surveys and taking quizzes. 

Customers receive 1,000 bonus points when they download the Skechers app, where they can track their points, redeem rewards, and enjoy a personalized shopping experience.

There’s a spend requirement for customers to qualify for subsequent tiers. In addition, members must complete their online account to receive access to the Silver and Gold tiers. This way the company gets the customer data it needs to provide better personalization.
Skechers Plus members can redeem their points in 1,000-point increments for $5 reward certificates, which can be applied to purchases made on the company’s website, through their app, or in Skechers stores.
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Why it works:

  • Members can earn points by making purchases or by answering surveys and taking quizzes. 
  • Customers receive 1,000 bonus points when they download the Skechers app, where they can track their points, redeem rewards, and enjoy a personalized shopping experience.
  • There’s a spend requirement for customers to qualify for subsequent tiers. In addition, members must complete their online account to receive access to the Silver and Gold tiers. This way the company gets the customer data it needs to provide better personalization.

6. Alexandra Sports – Loyalty Club

Alexandra Sports is UK’s leading running specialist, providing industry-leading technology, product knowledge and reputable customer service. The company actively engages with local running and sports communities. It sponsors and supports events, clubs, and initiatives related to running and fitness, fostering a sense of community among its customers.

Alexandra Sports members receive 1 point for every £1 their friend spends on their first purchase.
Alexandra Sports prides itself in being referred to by its customers, but the company’s products are also used and recommended by a variety of professionals and experts, ranging from doctors and podiatrists to health care pros and gyms.
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Why it works:

  • For every £1 Alexandra Sports members spend they collect two points, which can then be used to buy items.
  • Members are eligible for exclusive offers and promotions not available anywhere else.
  • All executive members receive a 12% discount off RRP in stores.

7. REI – Co-op Member 

REI, the American outdoor apparel and accessories retailer, sells sporting goods, camping gear and travel equipment, and offers services such as outdoor-oriented vacations and courses. With a $30 subscription, customers become lifetime members of their program, which was created to thank members for helping them weather the tough times in 2020.

REI’s loyalty program
REI members can even trade in gently used gear for REI gift cards and feel good about joining the circular economy.
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Why it works:

  • REI members enjoy being a part of a community who love, appreciate and fight for the outdoors.
  • Benefits include great gear offers, special pricing on events, and an annual Co-op Member Reward—for life.
  • Members have access to a curated selection of gear and clothing, brand collaborations, limited editions, and special offers.

8. Road Runner Sports – VIP Rewards

Road Runner Sports is a well-established specialty retail company based in the United States, primarily focused on running and athletic footwear, apparel, and accessories. The company’s three-tiered rewards program comes with benefits like everyday instant 10% savings and VIP first dibs on all new shoes.

Road Runner Sports loves collective sports experiences.
Road Runner Sports VIP Family members saved over $17,660,503 with benefits last year.
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Why it works:

  • The rewards program is very family-centric as members can share their benefits with their entire family.
  • Members can take anything home and run in it for up to 90 days. If they don’t like it or it’s not the perfect fit, they can easily return it.
  • Members also receive exclusive savings throughout the year plus fast, free shipping.

9.  The North Face – XPLR Pass

The North Face is an American outdoor recreation products company. The company puts a great emphasis on innovative thinking, design and technology. This also shows in their loyalty program, XPLR Pass, where their customers can earn loyalty points when they make purchases, attend special events, check in at certain locations, bring their own reusable bags, or refer friends — whichever works best for the specific customer’s lifestyle. Not only that, XPLR Pass gives customers early access to limited-edition collections and exclusive access to products not yet available to the general public.

The North Face loyalty program.
The North Face loyalty program members can also participate in members-only field testing, which allows customers to test products and make sure they’re the right fit for their needs.
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Why it works:

  • The program provides more ways for customers to earn points — aside from repeat purchases. This helps the brand resonate with its younger, more socially active members.
  • The loyalty program offers customers the flexibility to choose how they redeem their rewards points, ensuring the experience is tailored to customers’ lifestyles.
  • When redeeming rewards, customers can use their points for unique travel experiences such as mountain climbing in Nepal.

10. Kathmandu – Out There Rewards

Kathmandu is a New Zealand-born leading global outdoor, lifestyle and sports brand that has recently revamped its loyalty program after 30 years. Their program has been renamed “Out There Rewards” with a leading proposition to reward its members for “getting out there”.

Kathmandu’s four-tiered reward program.
Kathmandu’s refreshed loyalty program helps members live their best lives by rewarding them for “getting out there”.
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Why it works:

  • By renaming their program (originally Summit Club Kathmandu), the company opened itself up to a wider audience — not only shoppers who conquer summits but also to those who love the outdoors.
  • Departing from the previous earn & burn model, the loyalty program has transformed into a four-tiered system that includes challenges and extra benefits, simplified sign-ups via QR codes, and new digital membership access via Apple or Google wallets.
  • Members not only earn points when they buy, but also when they complete outdoor activities like hiking, discovering waterfalls, and visiting national parks.

Taking the First Steps

At the end of the day, keep in mind that one size does not fit all. As different sports require unique accessories and personal qualities, sports communities require unique features in a loyalty program. But there are some approaches that you should stick to when designing a loyalty program, such as incorporating the spirit of sport in your communication. A successful loyalty program always aligns with the principles and core values of the brand. Designing a rewards program from top to bottom can be a huge undertaking, but with proper guidance, it can be smooth sailing.

If you want to see how Antavo can help you create a sportswear loyalty program, book a demo or include us in your RFP.

A banner recommending to download Antavo’s ‘The Ultimate Guide to Loyalty Program Rewards’ ebook.
Headshot of Zsuzsa Kecsmar, Co-founder, CMO and Head of Partnerships at Antavo

Zsuzsa Kecsmar

Zsuzsa is the Chief Strategy Officer & Co-founder of Antavo. She has experienced Antavo grow from a startup into a scaleup. Listed by Forbes as one of Europe’s top 100 female founders in tech, Zsuzsa is a former journalist recognized by the European Commission.

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