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Which brand is better Nike or Adidas?

Brand Overview

Nike and Adidas are two of the most popular athletic shoe and apparel brands in the world. They have been competing with each other for decades to be the top sports brand. Both companies were founded in the mid 1900s and experienced rapid growth and success through innovative product designs and celebrity endorsements.


Nike was founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports by Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight. The company was officially renamed Nike in 1971, named after the Greek goddess of victory. Nike’s famous “Swoosh” logo was created in 1971 by Carolyn Davidson, a graphic design student at Portland State University.

Some key facts about Nike:

  • Headquarters: Beaverton, Oregon
  • Founded: 1964
  • Founders: Bill Bowerman and Phil Knight
  • CEO: John Donahoe
  • Revenue (2021): $44.5 billion
  • Employees: approximately 76,700 (2022)
  • Manufacturing: Contract factories in Asia, Europe, and Americas

Nike is the world’s largest supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and a major manufacturer of sports equipment. It has captured the largest market share in the athletic footwear industry with brands like Nike, Jordan, Converse, and Hurley. Nike sponsors top athletes like LeBron James, Serena Williams, Cristiano Ronaldo, and Michael Jordan to promote its products.


Adidas was founded in 1949 in Germany by Adolf “Adi” Dassler. The company name is derived from “Adi” and “Das” (taken from DAssler). The iconic Adidas 3-stripe logo and trefoil logo were created in 1972.

Some key facts about Adidas:

  • Headquarters: Herzogenaurach, Germany
  • Founded: 1949
  • Founder: Adolf “Adi” Dassler
  • CEO: Kasper Rørsted
  • Revenue (2021): €21.2 billion
  • Employees: approximately 61,000 (2021)
  • Manufacturing: Contract factories mainly in Asia

Adidas is the second largest sportswear manufacturer in the world behind Nike. It specializes in footwear, sports equipment and apparel. Popular Adidas brands include Adidas Performance, Adidas Originals, Reebok and Rockport. Top athletes sponsored by Adidas include Lionel Messi, James Harden, Aaron Judge, Trae Young, Candace Parker and more.

Product Comparison

When it comes to athletic footwear and apparel, Nike and Adidas products have many similarities as well as differences.


Running Shoes

Both Nike and Adidas make high-performance running shoes using the latest technologies and design innovations. Some popular models include:


  • Air Zoom Pegasus
  • Air Zoom Vomero
  • React Infinity Run Flyknit
  • ZoomX Invincible Run


  • Ultraboost DNA
  • SolarBoost 3
  • Adizero Adios Pro
  • Adizero Boston 10

Nike tends to use lightweight synthetic materials and innovative cushioning systems like Zoom Air or React foam. Adidas focuses more on energy return with boost foam cushioning.

Basketball Shoes

Nike and Adidas make performance basketball shoes endorsed by NBA stars. Some models include:


  • LeBron XX
  • KD 15
  • Kyrie Low 5
  • PG 6


  • Harden Vol 6
  • Dame 8
  • Embiid One Origins
  • Donovan Mitchell D.O.N. Issue #3

Nike has contracts with bigger NBA stars like LeBron James and Kevin Durant while Adidas works with James Harden and Damian Lillard. Both brands use technical materials like mesh and synthetic leather with responsive cushioning.

Lifestyle Shoes

In addition to performance shoes, Nike and Adidas make popular lifestyle and retro sneakers.


  • Air Force 1
  • Air Jordan 1
  • Air Max 97
  • Blazer Mid 77


  • Superstar
  • Stan Smith
  • Samba Classic
  • Forum Low

Nike has a stronger lifestyle brand in Jordan while Adidas Originals like the Superstar have vintage appeal. Both brands collaborate with designers and influencers on limited edition sneakers.


Nike and Adidas both produce performance apparel designed to enhance athletic performance as well as lifestyle and casual wear.

Some technologies used in Nike and Adidas apparel include:

  • Dri-FIT (Nike) – sweat-wicking fabric
  • Climalite (Adidas) – moisture-wicking fabric
  • Aeroready (Nike) – ventilation
  • Primegreen (Adidas) – recycled materials

Key apparel lines:


  • Nike Pro
  • Nike Sportswear
  • NikeLab
  • Jordan


  • Adidas Sportswear
  • Adidas Originals
  • adidas by Stella McCartney
  • Y-3

Nike has a stronger athletic image while Adidas lifestyle apparel is very popular streetwear. Both brands partner with celebrities, designers and influencers on capsules and collections.


Nike and Adidas both produce performance accessories like bags, hats, socks and sunglasses optimized for athletes. Nike offers more accessories overall while Adidas accessories complement performance gear.


Nike and Adidas incorporate the latest technologies into products to enhance performance:

Nike Technologies:

  • Flyknit – lightweight woven upper
  • Dri-FIT – sweat-wicking fabric
  • Zoom Air – responsive cushioning
  • React foam – soft and responsive cushioning
  • Vaporfly – carbon fiber plates for running

Adidas Technologies:

  • Primeknit – lightweight woven upper
  • ClimaCool – cooling fabric
  • Boost foam – responsive and energy returning
  • 4D – 3D printed midsole
  • Adidas Traxion – outdoor traction

Both brands innovate constantly but Nike is viewed as a leader in athletic footwear technology while Adidas excels in apparel innovation.

Branding & Marketing

Nike and Adidas take different branding and marketing approaches to engage consumers.


Nike and Adidas sponsor the world’s top athletes and sports leagues. Some key partnerships:


  • NBA – Official on-court apparel partner
  • NFL – Official supplier of game day uniforms and sideline apparel
  • MLB – Official uniform supplier
  • Cristiano Ronaldo, LeBron James, Serena Williams, Kevin Durant


  • FIFA World Cup – Official sponsor
  • UEFA Champions League – Official partner
  • James Harden, Damian Lillard, Aaron Judge, Trae Young, Lionel Messi

Nike has larger sponsorship deals with major U.S. sports leagues while Adidas has strong partnerships in soccer/football. Both use athlete sponsorships to test and promote new product innovations.


Nike and Adidas take different approaches for advertisements:

Nike advertisements are inspirational and focused on emotion. Their ads typically feature star athletes overcoming adversity and dominating their sports using Nike gear. Popular campaigns include “Just Do It”, “Dream Crazy” and “You Can’t Stop Us”.

Adidas advertisements are more performance-focused and product-driven. They highlight key technologies like Boost foam rather than inspirational messaging. Adidas works more with influencer campaigns on social media versus big TV ads.

Both brands have made some iconic ads, but Nike’s storytelling ads tend to resonate more emotionally with audiences.

Retail Stores

Nike and Adidas products are sold globally at various retail channels:

Nike has Nike-owned stores, digital platforms like and apps, and partnerships with retailers like Foot Locker and Dick’s Sporting Goods. Nike has over 1,100 retail stores worldwide.

Adidas sells products at 3,100 Adidas stores globally, e-commerce, and major retailers like Dick’s and Foot Locker. Adidas has smaller branded retail presence than Nike in most markets.

Having flagship stores allows both brands to provide premium customer experiences and showcase new products. Nike’s massive retail footprint gives them more direct access to customers for collecting data and feedback.

Influencer Marketing

Nike and Adidas work with celebrities, athletes, designers, musicians and other cultural influencers on product collaborations and campaigns. Some examples:


  • Michael Jordan – Jordan Brand subsidiary
  • Travis Scott – Nike Air Max collabs
  • Sacai – Co-designed Blazer and VaporWaffle sneakers
  • Billie Eilish – Air Jordan 15 collab


  • Kanye West – Yeezy Boost sneakers and apparel
  • Beyoncé – Ivy Park athleisure line
  • Pharrell – Tennis Hu line of sneakers
  • Bad Bunny – Forum sneaker collab

Leveraging influencer connections allows both brands to stay relevant with younger consumers and release buzzy product drops. Nike’s Jordan subsidiary was an early pioneer of celebrity athlete collaborations.


Nike shoes are priced slightly higher on average than Adidas:


  • Running shoes: $90-$150
  • Basketball shoes: $110-$185
  • Lifestyle shoes: $80-$150


  • Running shoes: $85-$140
  • Basketball shoes: $100-$160
  • Lifestyle shoes: $80-$120

Higher prices for Nike shoes reflect the brand power and premium materials like Flyknit and Zoom Air insoles. Both brands charge up to $200 or more for high-tech performance shoes and designer collabs.

For apparel, Nike and Adidas pricing is very similar for performance and casual wears. Both brands charge premium pricing for moisture-wicking jerseys, leggings, shorts and tank tops (around $35-$100).

Financial Performance

Nike is the larger company by revenue and market value while Adidas growth outpaced Nike in recent years.

Brand 2020 Revenue 2021 Revenue Market Value
Nike $37.4 billion $44.5 billion $177 billion
Adidas €19.8 billion €21.2 billion €42.6 billion

Nike has significantly higher annual revenues and over 4x the market valuation of Adidas. However, Adidas revenues grew at a faster rate from 2020 to 2021.

Key revenue growth drivers:


  • Strong direct-to-consumer sales through digital apps and websites
  • Recovery of wholesale revenue as stores reopened from COVID closures
  • New innovative products like the Air Zoom Alphafly NEXT% running shoe


  • E-commerce sales growth of over 50% in 2021
  • Rebound in China market sales, up over 20% in 2021
  • Partnerships with celebrities like Beyoncé

Nike’s size gives it unmatched resources and scale while Adidas has grown by focusing on key markets like China and leveraging partnerships.

Competitive Comparison

Nike and Adidas compete on multiple factors that determine success in the athletic apparel industry.

Nike Adidas
Products Slight advantage – more advanced proprietary technologies like Flyknit, Dri-FIT, Zoom Air Known for running/football shoes and athletic apparel
Marketing Clear advantage – emotional storytelling ads and influencer collaborations Performance-focused ads, influencer collaborations less impactful
Brand appeal Strong advantage – iconic Swoosh logo and “Just Do It” slogan Known for 3-Stripes and sport heritage
Sales and distribution Huge advantage – over 1,100 Nike stores globally plus strong wholesale presence 3,100 Adidas stores but smaller Nike presence hurts
Revenue and profits Massive revenues at $44.5 billion but slower growth recently Trails Nike at €21 billion but faster growth

Nike is clearly dominant in brand appeal, marketing, and distribution. Adidas competes effectively on product technology but trails in resources and scale. However, Adidas has grown revenues briskly in key markets like North America and China. It has also revamped marketing to attract younger consumers.


In conclusion, Nike is currently the larger sportswear brand globally by revenues, profitability and market value. It leads with strong brand recognition, marketing campaigns focused on emotion, and partnerships with top athletes and leagues. However, Adidas has managed to gain market share through product innovation in running and football/soccer, improved digital marketing and collaborations with influencers. Looking forward, Adidas will aim to challenge Nike’s dominance in the U.S. market while growing sales in China and Europe. Nike must continue innovating on product performance and brand relevance to stay ahead. For most sports consumers, choosing between Nike and Adidas comes down primarily to brand preferences and then pricing, style and fit. Both brands will continue battling to be the top brand for athletes worldwide.