Cool! Nike, adidas top surf brandsChasing the hearts and minds of youngsters is a fickle business, and no more so than in what they consider cool right now.
According to Roy Morgan Research, surf brands have toppled off their cool perches and sportswear is back on top, as it was a couple of decades ago.
Then, kids chose to wear surfwear, as much as anything else because Dad and Mum were wearing sportswear brands, particularly Nike and Reebok.
So what do kids aged six to 13 prefer now? According to Roy Morgan Young Australians Survey, Nike and Adidas are the preferred brands among this age group.
Reports Industry Communications Director Norman Morris, Despite high-profile surfing champions like Mick Fanning, Taj Burrows, Tyler Wright and Stephanie Gilmore doing Australia proud on the international circuit, iconic surf-wear brands such as Billabong and Rip Curl are no longer considered cool by nearly as many Australian kids as they used to be.
In contrast, sportswear labels Adidas and Nike (pictured) have been steadily gaining ground with this challenging demographic.
Back in 2007, when asked to choose ‘What is really cool’ from an extensive list of brands, games, TV shows, cartoon characters, toys and tech devices itemised in Roy Morgan’s Young Australians Survey, 46 percent of Aussie children aged between six and 13 years old included home-grown surf-wear brand Billabong among their ‘cool’ picks.
Fast forward to 2016, and only 14 percent ticked Billabong, in a time when surf wear is mainstream and a former prime minister was often pictured geared up.
Fellow Australian surf brand Rip Curl has also fallen from juvenile favour – between 2007 and 2016, the proportion of children who considered it cool fell from by almost half.
Aussie-founded (now US-owned) Quiksilver also lost popularity, with just 15 percent of kids including it on their cool list in 2016 (down from 28 percent), while its sister brand Roxy suffered a similar fate (down to 14 percent).
This substantial decline in surf-wear’s cool credentials is evident among boys and girls of all ages, but the most pronounced downturn has been among girls aged between ten and 13.
In 2007, 72 percent of girls in this age bracket thought Billabong was cool and 79 percent thought the same of Roxy, but now these figures have plummeted.
Sportswear, in the meantime, has been winning young fans. Nike was considered cool by 27 percent of Aussie kids in 2007, now 39 percent choose the brand. While Adidas’s trajectory hasn’t been as steep, it now outstrips five surf labels with 26 percent of children rating it as cool (up from 22 percent).
Just as the cool status of surf-wear brands took its biggest hit among ten-13 year-old girls, sportswear’s most dramatic improvement was with this same group.
Now 57 percent of the coolest group, want Nike, up from 29 percent in 2007; with 40 percent feeling the same way about Adidas.
Morris says, This is consistent with a wider slump for surfwear
“which has struggled (along with many other local clothing retailers) to compete with the influx of international retailers such as H&M and Topshop.
“Surf culture in Australia has moved so far from its rough-and-ready roots that it’s now part of the mainstream, with even former PM Tony Abbott hitting the waves.
“Nike and Adidas are benefitting from the current athleisure craze, with kids (especially girls) clearly responding to sportswear’s popularity with fashionistas around the world.
“Nike’s relationship with actor-comedian Kevin Hart and Adidas’ association with singer Kanye West undoubtedly add to these labels’ desirability, even among children, ” Morris says.
“Aussie kids are an influential consumer group, not only spending their own money but often influencing their parents’ purchasing decisions.
“They have strong opinions on what’s cool and what’s merely lukewarm, and what they like today may well be different to what they liked just 12 months earlier.”