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Nike is still cooler than Adidas, teens say

Daniel Roberts
Senior Writer
Google’s brand survey, annotated.

Google made waves online this week when it released a new report entitled “It’s Lit: A guide to what teens think is cool.

The report contains multiple charts and bar graphs and reveals lots of findings, but the part that created the most conversation was a plot matrix (page 12 of the report) that ranks brands based on how aware teens are of them and how cool teens think they are.

The sample size was arguably small—1,100 teens aged 13-17 ranked the 122 brands—but the results are fascinating. (And arguably suspicious: Google and Google-owned YouTube score the highest of all companies for awareness and cool factor, along with Netflix.)

So, where do the three leading sports apparel brands, that so fiercely compete for the hearts of sneakerheads, rank with teens?

Adidas had a huge year in 2016: it made a comeback in the American athletic footwear market, clawing back market share on the strength of its Originals line, and on buzz created from new athlete endorsement deals (James Harden, Aaron Rodgers, Kris Bryant) and artist collaborations (Pharrell Williams, Kanye West). All of that is why Yahoo Finance named Adidas our sports business of the year in 2016.

It didn’t matter. Nike is still cooler with teens than Adidas, according to Google’s report.

Nike is the most cool sports apparel brand and the one they are most aware of. Adidas is less cool and they are less aware of it.

But Adidas did edge out Under Armour. That may surprise some, considering that Under Armour is American (Adidas is German), Under Armour is a much younger company (21 years, while Adidas is 92), and Under Armour has deals with red-hot athletes like Stephen Curry and Tom Brady. Adidas, for its athlete campaign, has stressed the theme of “creators.” And that appears to have worked in raising awareness and coolness among teens, at least compared to Under Armour. (Or the athletes are irrelevant and it’s all about the sneakers.)

Jordan Brand and Converse, by the way, are both also seen as cooler than Adidas and Under Armour—and both are owned by Nike. Vans, owned by VF Corp (which also owns Reef, Timberland, and The North Face) also ranks as cooler than Adidas and Under Armour.

And there’s one more sports apparel brand that teens like more than Adidas and Under Armour: Supreme, a small New York City skate brand that has been around since 1994. Teens thinks it’s cool, but are still far less aware of it.

Daniel Roberts is the sports business writer at Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @readDanwrite.

Sportsbook is our sports business video series.

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