Sportswear Loyalty Programs: A Comprehensive Guide

Tap into your customers’ athletic lifestyle to connect with them. Here are 9+1 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 are beginning to care proactively 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 on the scene 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.

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. 

Let me tell you a secret: brand alignment happens outside the store. Those who are wearing athleisure or fine footwear are doing 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.

Our experience has taught us that customers who are engaged with the [Sneakers Club] 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 a 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 for the Sports Industry

There is a price war going on in the sportswear industry. You’ll need something extra to win it: a powerful differentiator — another reason for people 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 you can foster a “rewards-must-be-earned” mindset by gamifying the customer journey.

Other important KPIs that loyalty programs can drive include:

  • Increasing the basket value
  • Rewarding already loyal customers cost-effectively
  • 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

I actually believe there are two challenges that retailers face here that are 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.

Additionally, retailers have an opportunity to expand their pool of loyal shoppers. For instance, our data is showing a drastic increase in demand for personalization. When a shopper feels like a retailer just “gets” the individual, it’s going to keep that shopper coming back time after time. A loyalty program that is data driven and analyzes their behavior helps you, the retailer, figure out how to market to their needs.

Sarah Curran-Usher

Managing Director of EMEA at True Fit

9+1 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 consistently keep working out and choosing your products for the long run. Learn how sportswear loyalty programs can support you.

1. Introduce a Mobile Sport Tracker in Your Loyalty Program

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

Bergzeit’s loyalty program depicting the Strava integration.
Bergzeit wanted to reward members not only for shopping, but also for living an athletic lifestyle. Members of Bergzeit Club earn points for climbing to certain heights and reaching the different milestones within the program.

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 own goal, how they can avoid injuries, and even what foods can boost the impact of their workouts. One cannot succeed without an understanding of how their body works. Use this opportunity to provide your loyal members this helpful content. To make sure their customers consume their content, offer additional points for reading your articles.

Rebel Active loyalty program gives members access to exclusive articles about how they can improve their performance.
Rebel’s Rebel Active loyalty program lets members access exclusive articles about how they can improve their performance.

3. Provide Goals Within the Loyalty Program

You can support your customers in achieving even more if your loyalty program reflects the same routine. 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 to the next level or get members closer to a valuable reward by offering bonus points events. Plus, the extra benefit will encourage customers to purchase right away, helping you to reduce cart abandonment.

In Eastern Mountain Sports’ rewards program, customers can double their benefit during double points periods.
In Eastern Mountain Sports’ rewards program, customers can make twice the 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. 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 people to pay frequent visits 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 by including them in the game.

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 some form of gamified profiling.

  • Quizzes are an ideal way to collect a large number of answers with customers choosing between liking or disliking a certain product
  • For more a abstract topic, such as personality traits, visual quizzes help customers conceptualize the answers
  • One-click or multiple-choice questions are the best if 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 you seek to educate customers, consider using quizzes to test whether or not customers have read or watched your content
A series of gamified surveys with different designs.
Of course, gamified profiling only works when you attach a reward to your quiz, otherwise members won’t feel inclined to complete them.

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 sports, recommendations might be worth even more, as people with the same interests and needs gather at regular occasions over shared experiences. Introducing some kind of social mechanism into your loyalty program is a must.

Incentivize your customers to make referrals by giving referred friends an instant discount, encouraging them to accept the invitation. Sophisticated loyalty programs, like Alexandra Sports, rewards referrals resulting 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 their family and friends by rewarding them, thus making them feel appreciated for their effort.

Alexandra Sports members receive 1 point for every £1 their friend spends on their first shop.
Alexandra Sports members receive 1 point for every £1 their friend spends on their first shop, and the referred friend also receives 10% off.

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 to get 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 any corporate advertisement. One way to use this tendency to your advantage is to extend your rewards system to Facebook and Instagram. The easiest way is to offer members points for linking their social media profile to their account 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 and appoint 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 your customers collect points for making donations, or checking in from their mobile device while attending local community sporting events. You can also offer rewards that help communities grow. Special team accessories, point donations, and sporting event tickets as rewards will encourage people to do sports together.

Road Runner Sports loves collective sport experiences.
Road Runner Sports loves collective sport experiences. They introduced Good Samaritan Instant Rewards for customers who do a lot for sport communities.

+1. Build a Like-Minded VIP Community

Create a private 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 set up their workout routine or the newest diets available
  • Motivational quotes by brand influencers
  • A leaderboard where they can compare Fitbit scores
  • The opportunity to be a part of the brand’s promotional campaign
Luxury fashion retailer LuisaViaRoma dedicated a closed group within its loyalty program to its hottest commodity: sneakers.
Luxury fashion retailer LuisaViaRoma dedicated a closed group within its loyalty program to its hottest commodity: sneakers. The results? Members spent 2 million points in just one month and club membership became a frequently discussed topic on social media.

6 Inspiring Sportswear Loyalty Programs Examples

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

1. Nike – Nike Membership

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

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.
Icon for the "Why it works" section of Antavo's article.

Why it works:

  • Tracking workout progress using Nike’s dedicated app gives users personalized access to limited edition product collections that correspond to their 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 wear/equipment and classic sneaker styles such as the Stan Smith. Its program, the adiClub, is an interactive and rewarding loyalty program with four different tiers.

Adidas’ loyalty program.
Adidas encourages customers to live an active lifestyle by rewarding members for using its workout app.
Icon for the "Why it works" section of Antavo's article.

Why it works:

  • The loyalty program basically simplifies how customers can buy shoes, also allowing them to shop sales first and get access to exclusive items.
  • Members earn 10 points after every $1 spent. The four-tiered loyalty program is based on points, and customers who reach higher tiers have access to benefits like premium features of the Adidas’ app and birthday bonuses.
  • Another way for customers to earn points is to share their purchase on social media, using the app, and completing their online customer profile.

3. Girlfriend Collective – The Collective

Girlfriend Collective is a sustainable activewear brand for women based in the United States. They have become increasingly popular with young, earth-conscious shoppers who want to maintain an athletic lifestyle. Its loyalty program revolves around rewarding 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.
Icon for the "Why it works" section of Antavo's article.

Why it works:

  • Members receive 25 points instantly when they join the program, and can receive points for other non-transactional actions as well, such as writing a product review or following the brand on Instagram.
  • Members are also encouraged to refer their friends and receive a 30% discount and a free product in return.
  • The loyalty program also rewards customers for making positive lifestyle choices. They receive a 100 points for uploading images to Instagram with the #GOODJOBGF showcasing good deeds (volunteering, planting trees, doing charity).

4. 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 can unlock more benefits as they become Silver tier and Gold tier members.

Skechers Plus loyalty program.
Skechers Plus members can redeem their points in 1,000 point increments for a $5 reward certificate that can be applied to purchases made on the company’s website, their app, or in Skechers stores.
Icon for the "Why it works" section of Antavo's article.

Why it works:

  • Members can earn points in two ways: by making purchases or by answering surveys and taking quizzes. 
  • Customers also 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 can obtain customer data and use it for better personalization.

5. Reebok – Unlocked

In Reebok’s free tiered loyalty program members can earn points by purchasing products and interacting with the brand. The loyalty program offers a mixture of transactional and experiential benefits for customers, like free shipping and returns, training sessions, and invitations to exclusive events.

Reebok’s loyalty program.
Reebok’s loyalty program clearly understands the importance of connecting emotionally with its customers.
Icon for the "Why it works" section of Antavo's article.

Why it works:

  • Reebok incentivizes members to supply more information on their personal preferences so they can tailor rewards and offers.
  • Experiential rewards create a deeper emotional connection with customers and can also provide competitive advantage for the company.
  • All members receive exclusive perks such as early access to product drops and sales, as well as access to member-exclusive products and special bonus points events.

6. REI – Co-op Member

REI, the American outdoor apparel and accessories retailer, sells sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment and offers services such as outdoor-oriented vacations and courses. With a $30 subscription, customers become lifetime members of their program, which has been 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.
Icon for the "Why it works" section of Antavo's article.

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.

Taking the First Steps

At the end of the day, keep in mind that one size doesn’t 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 can stick to when designing a loyalty program, such as how to incorporate 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 the proper guidance it can be smooth sailing.

If you want to see how Antavo can help you create a sportswear loyalty program for you, 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.

You might also like

The cover picture of how gamification can enhance loyalty programs
Guides by Barbara Kekes-Szabo • July 27, 2022 • 13 min read

The Ultimate Guide on Using Gamification in Loyalty Programs

Gamification in loyalty programs is fun: use a prize wheel for a thrilling reward experience, or collect data through treasure hunts.

Articles by Barbara Kekes-Szabo • September 16, 2021 • 10 min read

10 Lifestyle Loyalty Programs That Reward Customers for Being Themselves

Benefiting from customers’ positive choices? Learn from these lifestyle loyalty programs and start rewarding customers for what they like doing.

Antavo’s article on referral programs
Articles by Barbara Kekes-Szabo • March 13, 2023 • 10 min read

How to Use Referral Loyalty Programs to Generate Brand Loyalty

People trust recommendations from friends or family more than paid ads. How can referral loyalty programs help turn customers into spokespeople?

Partners who trust us
Logo line of partners working together with Antavo. Logo line of partners working together with Antavo.


Antavo's listing in Gartner.
Antavo's inclusion in Forrester.