Adidas just achieved the unthinkable by overtaking Nike Jordans in US sales

The trefoil is now number two.
The trefoil is now number two.
Image: Reuters/Michaela Rehle
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Adidas has officially passed Nike’s Jordan brand to become the number two shoe in the country, according to the research firm NPD Group, which just released numbers through August on US sport footwear.

Adidas’ share grew by nearly half, to 13%. NPD didn’t break out the exact share held by Jordan brand, which is a Nike subsidiary, but a month ago it was already clear that Adidas was overtaking Jordan. At that time, when Matt Powell, NPD’s vice president and sports-industry analyst, shared the firm’s latest numbers, Adidas owned 11% of the market, and Jordan brand just 8%. Nike itself was still the undisputed leader with a 36% share.

It’s a major accomplishment for Adidas, which just a few years ago was struggling badly in the US. The brand has bounced back on a surge of activewear-loving shoppers buying up retro sneakers and new sports-inspired shoes built for fashion as much as performance.

“This is an achievement I never thought I would see in my lifetime,” Powell said in NPD’s press release.

Nike’s iron grip on the US sneaker market, meanwhile, looks to be slipping. The Jordan brand, named for the basketball player Michael Jordan, has been one casualty. The core styles that have sustained it long thrived on scarcity, but in recent years it has been increasing the number of Jordans available, diminishing their exclusivity. Sales have been dropping at chains such as Foot Locker, and Nike hasn’t issued many fresh Jordan products. Morgan Stanley analysts recently wondered if Nike was struggling with a “previously unthinkable ‘brand problem’ with its Jordan brand.”

For Adidas, Nike’s misfortune has been a great opportunity—one that it’s grabbing.