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Economics of Market Power - Nike's Market Dominance

AS, A-Level, IB
AQA, Edexcel, OCR, IB, Eduqas, WJEC, CIE

Last updated 3 Jan 2024

Nike, a behemoth in the sports apparel industry, enjoys significant market power, influencing price, product offerings, and even industry trends.

Economic Factors Giving Market Power to Nike in the Sports Apparel Industry

Macroeconomic Trends:

  • Consumer Confidence and Disposable Income: A strong economy translates to higher disposable income, driving consumers to spend more on non-essential items like athletic apparel. Nike benefits significantly from such periods, evidenced by its increased revenue during economic upturns. For instance, Nike's revenue grew by 12% in fiscal year 2022 compared to 2021, partly driven by a recovering global economy.
  • Exchange Rates: Fluctuations in currency rates can impact Nike's production costs and profit margins. A stronger dollar, for example, makes overseas production cheaper but reduces the value of revenue earned in foreign currencies. Nike uses hedging strategies to mitigate these risks, but significant swings can still affect its market power.

Industry-Specific Factors:

  • Barriers to Entry: The high capital investment required for research and development, efficient manufacturing, and global distribution creates substantial barriers to entry for new competitors. This limits competition and allows established players like Nike to wield greater power over pricing and product categories.
  • Economies of Scale: Nike's massive production volume grants it significant economies of scale. They can buy raw materials and manufacturing capacity at lower prices, further solidifying their cost advantage over smaller competitors. This cost advantage translates to greater pricing flexibility and the ability to undercut competitors.
  • Vertical Integration: Nike controls aspects of its supply chain, from design and manufacturing to retail channels, giving them flexibility and cost control.
  • Brand Recognition and Consumer Loyalty: Nike boasts a globally recognised brand with an image of innovation, performance, and cultural relevance. This loyalty gives them pricing power, allowing them to command premium prices for their products compared to less established brands. A 2023 study by Morning Consult revealed that Nike ranks among the top 10 most valuable brands in the world, a testament to its powerful brand image.

Data Supporting Market Power:

  • Market Share: Nike holds a dominant market share in the global athletic footwear market, estimated at around 27% in 2022. This dominance allows them to exert significant influence over suppliers, retailers, and even sporting events.
  • Profitability: Nike consistently maintains high profit margins. This healthy profitability enables them to reinvest in research and development, marketing, and strategic acquisitions,further solidifying their competitive advantage.

Challenges and Nuances:

  • Competition: While dominant, Nike faces substantial competition from Adidas, Under Armour, and other sports brands. Competitive pressure can limit price increases and force product innovation.
  • Consumer Power: While strong, brand loyalty has its limits. Consumers are increasingly price-conscious and value ethical practices, making Nike vulnerable to shifts in consumer preferences and negative publicity.
  • Regulation: Antitrust scrutiny and regulations concerning marketing practices, particularly targeted towards children, can constrain Nike's market power.
  • Economic Factors: Economic downturns or shifts in consumer spending can impact Nike's sales and profitability, limiting its ability to exert market power.
  • Sustainability Concerns: Consumers are increasingly concerned about the environmental and social impact of production practices. Concerns about Nike's labor practices and environmental footprint can damage its brand image and market power.

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