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

An in-depth comparison between the two sneaker giants: Adidas and Nike on performance, popularity, and athletic ability.


There’s been a long debate about which is better, Nike or Adidas when it comes to sneakers. If you like to travel, then the importance of footwear is not lost on you. Two brands come to mind when you think of sneakers. There has been a long history between these two businesses, and everyone is curious to know who is better in terms of performance and revenues. Both brands have earned a reputation for excellence in their respective fields. Discover who is the king of the Nike vs Adidas battle by diving into the world of sneakers. 

Adidas vs Nike: A Trip Down Memory Lane


The sportswear manufacturer Adidas remains the largest in Europe and the second largest globally following Nike. The company was founded by Adolf Dassler and his brother Rudolph Dassler. Together, they established the Dassler Brothers Shoe Factory. Adolf enjoys sports such as soccer, boxing, skiing, and football. He understood that each sport is different, and the success of each activity is generally determined by the footwear used during the activity. He recognized a market for sport-oriented shoes and began creating them with the goal of improving the performance of athletes. 

After the brothers separated in 1949, Rudolph founded PUMA, while Adidas founded Adidas. At the time, PUMA was Adidas’ greatest competitor. Adidas was named after the first two letters of Adolf’s name and the last three letters of his second name. Choosing the logo was based on the unique features of Adidas’ shoes, and the three stripes symbolized comfort as well as a shoe design.


As the world’s largest athletic footwear company, the American giant, Nike was founded on January 25, 1964. By 2014, Nike had a market capitalization of 19 million US Dollars and had become the most recognized brand within the sports industry. In the beginning, Nike was known as Blue Ribbon Sports (BRS). The founders of Nike are Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. Phil Knight was an Oregon track athlete in 1964. The name BRS was changed to Nike in 1971 and was derived from the Greek goddess of victory. Initially, the company was a distributor for a Japanese shoemaker, Onitsuka Tiger. 

By 1917, the relationship between Nike and the Japanese shoemaker was gradually coming to an end. Nike was already walking on their first line of shoes at the time, and it was introducing the SWOOSH. Carolyn Davidson designed this masterpiece. In 1977, Nike released its first advertising campaign known as there is no finish line. After 1988, Nike adopted the slogan just do it. This has enabled Nike to effectively expand its product line to a wide range of countries.

Adidas vs Nike: Performance and Revenues


This shoe company employed over 61 thousand people worldwide in 2021, and generated revenue of 21 billion US dollars in the same year. After realizing that North America accounted for 40% of the global sports market in 2017, the brand made it a point to dominate this market. Because of this, Adidas has always focused on this market. Despite Adidas’ smaller size when compared to Nike, this shoe brand stands out because it understands what consumers are looking for and focuses its efforts accordingly.


This shoe company employed over 73 billion people worldwide in 2021, and generated revenue of 21 billion US dollars in the same year. Since Nike’s global revenue in 2017 was the biggest in the world, it chose North America as its target market. Nike has a strong marketing and sponsorship agreement to back up its actions. The vast revenue Nike generated in 2017 has partly been attributed to a contract signed in 2015. Adidas and Nike competed to provide the NBA with uniforms, and Nike won the bid.

Nike vs. Adidas: Production and Suppliers

The majority of Nike’s production is carried out in Asia, but Nike also manufactures in America, while Adidas manufactures in Europe. In addition, Nike has a small part of its production in Africa, and Nike owns over 500 factories in four separate companies, which manufacture footwear, equipment, and apparel. The leading manufacturer of Nike shoes is China and Vietnam each accounting for 36% of the total manufactured worldwide. 

Meanwhile, Adidas operates over 800 factories throughout 55 countries. Vietnam produces approximately 40% of its footwear, while Indonesia controls 25% of the production process. China only produces 19% of Adidas’ footwear.

Nike vs. Adidas: Perception

Adidas appears to be winning the Nike vs Adidas argument in this category due to its collaboration with influencers, celebrities, and musicians. Adidas adopted an approach that focuses on streetwear sneakers. It collaborates with top celebrities, including Kanye West and Beyonce. Nike, on the other hand, emphasizes sports rather than celebrity collaborations. With the present athleisure trend moving sportswear to the office, Adidas stands a better chance in the market with this approach. 

In addition to his billion-dollar fashion empire derived largely from his Yeezy sneakers, Kanye West is one of the most familiar names in the Nike vs Adidas rivalry. Originally, Kanye West partnered with Nike and released three styles within five years. Kanye West announced in 2014 that he was moving the partnership to Adidas. In 2015, Adidas launched Yeezy, and the partnership has been quite successful. 

In contrast, Nike collaborates with celebrities of a different type. The Air Jordan trainer is regarded as one of the most popular celebrity sneaker brands due to its collaboration with Michael Jordan. These sneakers were introduced in 1985 and remain popular today. However, some individuals claim that they no longer have a cool factor to them. It is also worth noting that Nike partnered with Paris Saint Germain Football Club in 2018 and the team became the first to wear Jordan merchandise. The advertisements were centered around top footballers, Neyman and Mbappe. In a way, it is the foundation of both companies’ success as it forces them to grow their direct-to-customer relationships. Although Nike holds the majority of the market share, Adidas is rapidly closing the gap with its cool factor. Nike is the owner of the most prominent company, but Adidas is quickly closing the gap.

Nike vs. Adidas: Construction

The most important thing when choosing running shoes is to ensure that they fit comfortably. While there are occasions when you need narrow shoes, you may also prefer wider ones because of their comfort. When comparing Nike and Adidas, it is imperative to understand how both brands fit. Despite the fact that both brands offer a variety of features in their running shoes, there are certain distinctions to be made.


Uppers refer to the entire part of a shoe that covers the foot. Uppers are created by stitching or molding all parts of the shoe above the soles to form a single unit to attach the insole and outsole. 

Those searching for comfortable, lightweight, and breathable uppers will be pleased to note that Nike provides precisely those qualities. The Nike Flyknit offers high-strength fibers without adding heavy weight. The fibers are woven into the upper so that it fits like a sock. Nike’s knit pattern varies slightly with each sneaker. Some of these shoes have tighter weaves to provide greater support, while others have loose weaves to provide greater flexibility. 

On the other hand, Adidas uses lightweight ventilated uppers that ensure your feet remain comfortable regardless of how many miles you run. Adidas’ knitted uppers are well known for their comfort.


In spite of the fact that Nike offers a variety of midsoles including carbon plates, carbon plates are not a regular part of its footwear. Nike’s top midsole technology is Nike React. Essentially, this technology utilizes a midsole that offers plenty of cushioning without sacrificing energy return. Additionally, it does not add a significant amount of weight to the shoe. You will feel nice and pillowy when you squeeze a Nike React shoe before it returns to its original form. As a result, the midsole of the Nike shoe provides a high level of cushioning and energy return.

Alternatively, Adidas is best known for its Boost technology, which was introduced in 2013. It is a groundbreaking cushioning technique that combines Thermoplastic Polyurethane with pressure-responsive properties. As a result of the compression feature, shock absorption is greatly enhanced and the show bounces back to its original state. This technology contributes to consistent performance because it provides excellent energy returns. As well as delivering outstanding energy returns, the Boost technology offers durability, temperature regulation, comfort, and flexibility, regardless of the weather conditions.


It is also important to consider the outsole in the Nike vs Adidas brand battle. Nike sneakers are guaranteed durability regardless of where they are purchased. The rubber outsoles of the shoes are thick and have deep grooves that channel water efficiently. Adidas, on the other hand, utilizes Continental Rubber outsoles that provide excellent traction. Thus, the sneakers are safe and easy to use when wet. A famous description of this rubber outsole is that it is durable and grippy, which makes it an excellent choice for running in inclement weather.

Nike vs. Adidas: The Future

With a whopping worth of $85.54 billion US dollars in 2022, the sneaker industry continues to grow every day, and investing in marketing is crucial to a brand’s success. With such a lucrative size, it’s no wonder top sports brands compete for market share. It is evident that Nike and Adidas are doing exceptionally well and setting new financial records in the Nike vs Adidas argument. Nike has focused on expanding into China, while Adidas is looking to grow in North America. While Nike seeks new materials, Adidas focuses on design. Although Nike is the most popular of the Nike vs Adidas brands, Adidas is the winner regarding the cool factor. At the end of the day, it all depends on the individual’s preference as both brands have great features.

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