Nike vs Adidas Case Study: Who Is Winning? All You Need To Know

If you like traveling, then the importance of footwear is not lost on you. When you think of sneakers, two brands come to the forefront of your mind. There’s been an age-long debate about which is better between Nike vs Adidas. These two businesses have been around for a long while, and everyone wants to know who surpasses the other in terms of performance and revenue. Both brands are renowned and excellent at what they do. Let’s dive into the world of Nike vs Adidas to understand who reigns supreme.

A Trip Down Memory Lane

Everyone has a past and a starting point. Let’s take a look at the initial steps of Nike and Adidas to discover where it all began. 


Adidas remains the most extensive manufacturer of sportswear in Europe and the second-largest globally after Nike. The company began with Adolf Dassler, and he was later joined by his brother Rudolph Dassler. Together they launched the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. Adolf has a strong love of sports like soccer, boxing, skiing, football, and much more. He understood that each sport is different, and most times, the success of a sport usually depends on the footwear used in the activity. Adolf Dassler saw a market in this, and his mind began to revolve around making sport-oriented shoes. These shoes were focused on improving the performance of athletes. 

In 1949, the brothers went different ways. Rudolph created PUMA, while Adidas went on to create Adidas. At the time, PUMA was Adidas’s biggest competition. The name Adidas came from the first two letters of Adolf’s name and the last three letters of his second name. He selected the logo, which is how Adidas stood out, based on shoes’ unique features. The three stripes were a shoe design on the products but also represented comfort. 


Nike is an American company that is also the world’s largest athletic footwear and apparel company. In 2014, its value was $19 million, and it became the top brand in the sports industry. Initially, Nike was Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS). The founder is Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. Phil Knight was a track athlete in Oregon in 1964. The name BRS changed to Nike in 1971 and came from the Greek goddess of victory. The company started out working as a distributor for a Japanese Shoemaker, Onitsuka Tiger. 

By 1917, the relationship between Nike and the Japanese shoemaker was slowly coming to an end. Nike was already walking on their first line of shoes at the time, and it was introducing the SWOOSH. This design was the masterpiece of Carolyn Davidson. In 1977, the company had its first advertisement called ‘there’s no finish line.’ Afterward, the slogan became ‘just do it in 1988. Since then, Nike has effectively expanded its product line to many countries around the world. 

Performance and Revenues

We cannot talk about the Nike vs Adidas battle without comparing both companies’ performance and revenue. This section delves into the financial growth of both companies to help you determine better who is winning.


Adidas made revenue of 21 billion euros and a brand value of 7 billion dollars in 2017. That same year, this shoe company employed over fifty thousand people globally. Adidas generated 50% of its sales that year from the footwear category, which is its most important category. Adidas understood that North America controlled 40% of the global sports market. Therefore, this shoe brand made it a point to be dominant in this area. That’s why Adidas always focuses on the North American Market. When it comes to size, Adidas is smaller than Nike. However, this shoe brand stands out because it understands what consumers are looking for and focuses its efforts on that. 


This shoe brand is the most valuable sports brand in the world; it also dominates North America. Nike also made North America its target because of its global revenue in 2017. Nike has a strong marketing and sponsorship agreement to back its actions. Therefore, it came as no surprise that Nike made 30.57 billion euros in 2017. This vast revenue is partly due to its contract in 2015. Nike and Adidas competed to become the next exclusive provider of uniforms to the NBA, and Nike won the bid. 

Nike vs. Adidas: Production and Suppliers

Nike and Adidas get a majority of their production carried out in Asia. However, Nike also has production done in America, while you can find Adidas facilities in Europe. There’s also a tiny part of the two brands’ manufacturing process carried out in Africa. Nike owns over 500 factories in 4 different companies, and they supply footwear, equipment, and apparel. 23% of Nike’s production comes from Chinese manufacturers. However, Vietnam also contributes about 16% of its total production but focuses more on clothing and footwear.

On the other hand, Adidas has over 800 factories in 55 countries. While Vietnam produces about 40% of its footwear, Indonesia controls 25% of the manufacturing process. China only produces 19% of Adidas footwear. 

Nike vs. Adidas: The Cool Factor

The New Fashion Pyramid Part 2/2
The New Fashion Pyramid Part 2/2

The cool factor refers to the brands’ collaboration with influencers, celebrities, and musicians. In this category of the Nike vs Adidas argument, Adidas seems to be winning. This shoe brand adopted an approach that focuses on streetwear sneakers. Its collaboration is with top celebrities like Kanye West and Beyonce. On the other hand, Nike focuses more on sports than on celebrity collaboration. With the present athleisure trend moving sportswear to the office, Adidas stands a better chance in the market with this approach. 

Kanye West is a top celebrity who knows more about the Nike vs Adidas rivalry than most. His fortune largely came through his billion-dollar fashion empire with the help of Yeezy, his sneaker brand. Kanye West started with a partnership with Nike and released three styles in five years. However, he announced in 2014 that he was moving the partnership to Adidas. Adidas introduced Yeezy in 2015, and since then, the partnership has been quite successful. Yeezy sales are over 1 billion dollars every year, and the popularity of these sneakers’ brands doesn’t seem to be slowing down. 

Nike, on the other hand, collaborates with a different type of celebrity. Its collaboration with Michael Jordan is one of the brand’s top partnerships. The Air Jordan trainers hold the top spot for celebrity sneaker brands. These sneakers were launched in 1985 and continue to remain popular over the years. However, many people argue that you can no longer describe it as a cool factor. Nike also partnered with the Paris Saint Germain Football Club in 2018, and the club became the first to wear Jordan merchandise. The adverts revolved around top footballers, Neyman and Mbappe. The footwear supremacy continues to be a fierce Nike vs Adidas battle. In a way, it is the foundation of both businesses’ success as it pushes them to grow their direct-to-customer relationship. Although Nike owns the most prominent company, Adidas is quickly closing the gap with the cool factor. 

Nike vs. Adidas Shoe Construction

When it comes to running shoes, you want a comfortable fit. There are times when you need narrow shoes, but wider ones feel better because of the comfort it offers you. In the Nike vs Adidas argument, it is essential to know how both brands fit. Although both brands offer stability, motion control, and others in their running shoes, there are some distinctions you should take note of.


If you’re on a search for a comfortable, lightweight, and breathable upper, Nike offers precisely that. The Nike Flyknit comes with fibers that offer high-strength without including high-weight. The fibers are woven into the upper to fit like a sock. The knit pattern of Nike varies a bit with each sneaker. Although some of the shoes offer a tighter weave to provide more support, others come with a loose weave for more flexibility. 

Adidas, on the other hand, always utilizes lightweight ventilated upper so your feet can breathe. It also ensures that the shoes maintain a comfortable feel despite the miles you run. Its knitted uppers are known for their comfort and are preferred by many.


Although one of Nike’s midsole designs includes carbon plates, it is not a regular feature in its shoes. Nike’s top midsole technology is Nike React. It works around the idea that the midsole offers plenty of cushioning without a need to cut down on energy returns. Additionally, this doesn’t mean adding a ton of weight to the shoes. If you squeeze a Nike React shoe, it feels nice and pillowy before returning to its original form. Therefore, the midsole of Nike offers cushioning and a great energy return.

On the other hand, Adidas is known for its Boost technology. Adidas first introduced this technology in 2013. It is an innovative cushion technology that utilizes Thermoplastic Polyurethan that compresses with pressure. The compression feature is helpful in extreme shock absorption and allows the show to bounce back to its original state. This technology assists in a consistent run because it offers excellent energy returns. Besides the superb energy return, the Boost technology offers durability, temperature regulation, comfort, and flexibility. These features are present irrespective of the weather conditions.


On the Nike vs Adidas brand battle, the outsole is also a consideration. It doesn’t matter where you purchase your Nike sneakers from; you’re guaranteed durability. The shoes use thick rubber outsoles that come with deep grooves to channel water. This feature means that it’s safe and easy to use the sneakers when it’s wet. On the other hand, Adidas utilizes continental rubber outsoles that offer excellent traction. It is also great for running in inclement weather, and a famous description of this rubber outsole is durable and grippy. 

Nike vs. Adidas: The Future

Trainers are big business as the shoe market is worth over 50 billion dollars and continues to rise. With such a lucrative size, it is clear why top sports brands compete for market shares. In the Nike vs Adidas argument, it’s apparent that both shoe brands perform exceptionally and continue to gain new financial records. As Nike focuses on higher growth in China, Adidas is looking for a larger North America audience. While Nike looks for new materials, Adidas focuses on its designs. In terms of popularity, Nike is the winner of the Nike vs Adidas brand battle. However, Adidas is the winner when it comes to the cool factor. In the end, it all depends on people’s preference as both brands have great features to offer.

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