Decathlon: How the sports retailer stands out from its competitors

Indeed, Decathlon experienced a growth rate of 82%. What could explain such impressive growth?

Key takeaways

  • Decathlon competitors‘ strategies are a lot different than the French brand. Its goal is to offer sportswear to everyone. To achieve that, the French brand has a broad portfolio of more than 40 brands.
  • Part of Decathlon’s strategy is to focus its offering on its brands solely. However, recently, an increase is seen in Adidas and Nike’s products offering within its offer.
  • Sportswear primarily targets men. Decathlon’s assortment has almost 60% of men’s products. However, it is a segment of the fashion industry that offers the most gender parity.
  • Decathlon’s price strategy is a lot different than Nike and Adidas’. At Retviews, we observe that the most frequent price of a t-shirt at Decathlon is way lower than its competitors.

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Present in more than 57 countries, Decathlon is a family-owned business.  The French brand has more than 167 stores and continues to grow. In 2019, the Sports giant reported generating €12.4bn. A quarter of the revenues were coming from its home market. Net sales might seem small compared to Decathlon competitors‘ selling like Adidas (€23bn in 2019) and Nike (€39bn in 2019). But Decathlon is visibly catching up.

It is also noteworthy to mention that the brand grew internationally within a year (between 2018 and 2019). Indeed, Decathlon experienced a growth rate of 82%. What could explain such impressive growth?

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The merrier, the better?

Decathlon first started as a wholesaler. Little by little, the French company started to create its brands and acquire others.  In the process, Decathlon slowly tried to reduce its competitors’ share from its offering. 

Therefore, we see that none of the top 3 brands of sportswear, i.e., NikeAdidas, and Puma, are among the top 10 brands represented at Decathlon.

Moreover, one of Decathlon‘s characteristics is to offer one brand per type of sport.

According to Retviews data, we see that the most represented brands within Decathlon’s broad portfolio are: Domyos, Quechua, and Kalenji, representing Fitness, Outdoor Sports, and Running, respectively.

Decathlon has more than 86 sports in its international portfolio and 70 in France. One of the sports brands’ goal is to offer more than 100 sports to its customers by the mid-2020s.

Although it is part of Decathlon’s strategy to remove its competitors’ products from its portfolio gradually, the French sports company increased its offering of Adidas products between 2019 and 2020, accounting today for 3.2% of the French brand assortment. In comparison, the top three brands of Decathlon saw their share of products reduced. What could justify the brand’s decision to increase its offering in competitors’ products? 


Assortment mix 

Unlike its competitors, Decathlon only offers sportswear and does not sell any “lifestyle” products. It is probably part of the Decathlon’s strategy to focus solely on the sportswear market segment. Simultaneously, Decathlon competitorsAdidas and Nike, are investing more and more into their lifestyle (activewear) section. 

Decathlon’s assortment mix reflects the high number of different sports the brand has in its portfolio. Each sport has its specificity and, thus, specific clothing. In comparison, Nike and Adidas stay true to their heritage in footwear. Shoes are the most significant source of revenue for both of them.


Is sportswear a Men’s business more than Women’s? 

As cliché as it might seem, the sportswear industry primarily addresses men. When compared to the Number one fashion brand globally, Zara, we see a visible shift between gender.

Men’s collection, in general, accounts for the least share of business for fashion brands. However, it is increasing year after year.


According to Retviews data, we see that for Decathlon and Nike, Men’s category almost accounts for 60% of the entire assortment (performance and activewear combined). It is the complete opposite of Zara’s assortment.

Nevertheless, we see that Adidas aims to reach gender parity in its gender mix. Could it be the first step towards gender equality in the sports industry? 


“The best sports products available to anyone.”

In sportswear, the biggest category after footwear is t-shirts. In general, Decathlon is way more affordable than its competitors. It is part of the brand’s identity to offer “the best sports products (available) to anyone .”

In terms of pricing strategy, we see a difference between the French brand and its competitors. Indeed, we observe that the entry price itself is highly differentiated. Decathlon starts its offering of t-shirts, for Men and Women, at €2.99. In comparison, Adidas’ entry price is at €8.95, and Nike’s at €16.99.

Also, Decathlon’s most frequent price is €20 lower than its competitors. What catches attention is the difference in terms of maximum price. Adidas and Nike are well-known for their lifestyle products, and the price of these products can go up to €399.99 for Nike’s brand new collection labeled Nike ESC and €299.95 for Adidas. Set side by side, national football team jerseys priced at €89.99 by Decathlon do not seem that expensive.


At Retviews, our artificial intelligence tool allows us to find look-alike articles. In the case of pricing comparison, we found that a basic jogger made of French terry – brushed or unbrushed- is priced at €39.99 and €39.95 at Nike and Adidas, respectively. On the other hand, Decathlon offers similar products at €9.99.

Sportswear combining quality and affordability is a valuable element in Decathlon’s successful equation.


The expansion continues

Founded in a small parking lot with many sports-loving friends in 1976, the French brand has come a long way. Decathlon strategy integrates brand design, innovation, and customer service to allow maximum efficiency. As the brand shares on its website, the integrated approach enables the sportswear company to deliver high-quality products at a fair and reasonable price.

On top of that, Decathlon’s expansion is not slowing down anytime soon. The brand continues to grow by opening new stores in Europe. For now, Decathlon’s turnover only equals half of Adidas’ but who knows what the future holds. The French family-owned business may out shadow the leaders of sportswear. 

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