grow men's athletic apparel, affiliate marketing tipsThe men’s athleisure market is heating up fast, and brands are looking to cash in — here’s how to grow men’s athletic apparel line with affiliate marketing.

Business intelligence firm Gartner L2 reported that sales of menswear are expected to grow faster than womenswear 2020. That might explain why longtime mall stalwart Gap Inc. launched its Hill City men’s athleisure line in 2018 and athletic apparel giant Nike launched its own men’s yoga apparel collection in early 2019.

With significant growth potential and major players in the apparel space putting money behind it, brands need to find ways to connect with the correct consumer and differentiate themselves from competitors. Affiliate marketing is one way for brands to do this, by capitalizing on some of the following opportunities:

Target Key Audiences

Utilizing internal customer relationship management (CRM) data, network data and publisher data can help a brand target their key audience. Publishers have the ability to target key shoppers who have bought a competitor’s product or are similar to a brand’s current customer base by making use of tools such as Rakuten’s Affiliate Consumer Graph, which enables them to dynamically adjust the offer shown to a shopper based on their past shopping history. To refine the data set further, many publishers can layer your CRM data into targeted offerings, ensuring you aren’t targeting customers who have shopped with you previously with a new customer offer.

Dynamic Commissioning can be utilized to incentivize publishers to reach a key audience. With a strong commissioning strategy, a brand is able to focus on unique customer attributes like customer status to drive more new customer sales through variable commissioning rates. This tool can also assist a brand in focusing on promoting a key product category, like athleiure. By providing a higher commission rate for select products, publishers will be incentivized to promote them more than other products. With increased reporting capabilities in the Rakuten Advertiser Dashboard, you will be able to pull actionable insights and achieve your goals.

In-Store Opportunities

With a niche category like athleisure, getting your consumer in-store and trying on the clothing to truly understand the value of the product is key.

Online accounted for roughly one-third of all apparel sales in the US according to Internet Retailer, but many shoppers still prefer to shop for clothing in-store, especially when they may be trying a new brand or line of clothing as they evaluate fit/cut/etc. First Insights stated in their The State of Consumer Spending Report that, “Both men and women are spending significantly more in-store than online during a typical shopping visit.” To drive in-store sales through affiliate, you can optimize your campaigns with partners like, RetailMeNot and Ibotta, which serve up in-store offers to shoppers on mobile apps. With access to over 100 million highly engaged shoppers, the Rakuten In-Store Network provides a way for brands to offer rewards to their customers for shopping in-store. This is done by the customer linking their credit card to in-store offers available on the Rakuten website. Additional opportunities are available to segment audiences and A/B test to show the incremental value of this strategy.

Through Rakuten Marketing’s affiliate network, brands can work with these publishers and others to not only launch these campaigns, but also track and report on performance and insights. This allows brands to connect with shoppers who may feel more comfortable buying something in a store that they first saw online or may simply not want to have to wait to have a product delivered to their homes.


influencer marketing for retail brandsAs the growth of influencers continues to rise, we see celebrities like Luka Sabbath and Leo Mandella working with Champion and Adidas, respectively. Brands continue to see influencers affect what products and brands people buy. Making the most of this strategy is key to succeeding in the men’s athleisure market.

A Rakuten Marketing survey of around 3,600 shoppers showed that 65% of men engage with an influencer on a daily basis compared to 60% of women. Through affiliate marketing, brands can work with publishers like ShopStyle Collective and rewardStyle to connect with these influencers and get their clothing out to these audiences you may not be able to reach any other way. Platforms like ShopStyle Collective, with over 20,000 active influencers in the network, has the capacity to drive over 18,000,000 monthly clicks by influencers to brands. With these partners, brands can easily launch a campaign, reach large audiences, and get detailed performance recaps without having to add in another third-party.

Overall, as the men’s athleisure category continues to grow and get noisier, brands need to find new and innovative ways to reach the right consumer and grow their revenue, and a strong affiliate marketing strategy is a way to do just that.

Liz Nordlinger joined the Rakuten Marketing team in July 2018 and has worked in digital marketing for over five years. She is currently working as a Senior Account Specialist focused on affiliate marketing. In her free time, Liz is working on her MBA and enjoys outdoor activities like snowboarding.

Want to learn more about how to rev up your affiliate strategy? Contact us today.