Market analysis: Sports and outdoor items in German online retail

For some, the motivation for sport is mere health, while others want to become faster, more agile or even stronger. But it is clear that the increasing awareness of fitness is providing among Germans for a lot of sporting enthusiasm. According to a 2016 Deloitte study, more than one third of the population is active sportingly for two to five hours a week, and more than a quarter are active for five to ten hours. Online retail is glad of this: For years, online sales in the market for sports and outdoor articles have been growing steadily. According to Statista, in Germany this year it should amount to around 2.2 billion euros and around 55.5 billion euros worldwide.

In today’s article, we take a look at this exciting and fast-growing market. We summarise for you the latest trends in the field of sports and outdoors, show you what consumers value and what rules you should follow as a sporting goods retailer or manufacturer.

Consumers spending increasingly more on fitness

Retailers and manufacturers know that for a successful market position in eCommerce, it is essential to focus on the customer and their needs. Added to this is the challenge of individually approaching them via all available channels and generating purchasing impulses.
For this to succeed, it is important to know as much as possible about potential buyers. The following study results promise initial insights.

The most interesting buyer type: Demanding performers

The ISPO Sports Evolution Report by market research firm Konzept &Markt and ISPO Academy provides important information on what today’s sporting goods buyers think.
During the study, the main target groups of “sportly-active” and “sportly-inactive” were considered. As it turned out, the two groups barely differed in their demographic characteristics. Instead, the attitude to sport, and behavior and media use is decisive to the demand for sports and outdoor items and clothing.
The market researchers identify five different buyer types that shape the market. The major group is the demanding performers (24 percent), followed by the relaxed movement pragmatists (22 percent), the movement-happy sports fans (19 percent), the established open air athletes (18 percent) and lastly the distanced self-optimisers (17 percent).
The most demanding performers is the most interesting group here due to their high purchasing power. It consists mainly of working, high-income and educated men. Because performance control is important to them, they also represent the highest proportion of users of electronic devices in support of their athletic activity. This group also makes use of most of the distribution channels to buy, in particular brand stores, specialist retailers and manufacturers’ websites.

Annual per capita spending on sports at 725 euros

The Deloitte Sports Market Study 2018 further breaks down the amount of money that sports-active consumers spend on their fitness and health. For sportswear alone, the annual per capita expenditure is 120 euros. Equipment spending comes to another 86 euros. In addition, there the membership fees and admissions to fitness studios and clubs, which amount to 166 euros annually. Activity holidays and sports travel come to 237 euros per year. Together with other, smaller outlays, this results in a total average sum of 725 euros per annum. One third of those surveyed also anticipate even higher sports-related expenses over the next 12 months.

Multichannel solutions are gaining in importance

“For sports articles, not all information can be conveyed online. Tennis rackets, for example, have to be tried out or at least held in the hand. It’s the same with a ski helmet or a pair of sports glasses”, says Ottmar Franzen, Managing Director of the market research company Konzept& Markt.

For all respondents to the “ISPO Sports Evolution Report“, the stationary sports specialist shop comes in first place for the purchase of sports and outdoor articles. Among the sporty-inactive this represents 60 percent, and for the sporty-active as high as 74 percent. In both groups, the online shops follow behind by a clear margin (47 percent of the sporty-active and 37 percent of the sporty-inactive). And also Amazon appears to be a popular distribution channel. Forty-two percent of the sporty-active buyers in the outdoor and sports sector and 40 percent of sporty-inactive buyers have purchased corresponding products from Amazon over the last 1-2 years. Thus, the reach of Amazon is higher than that of department stores (27 percent and 23 percent) or the discounters (24 percent and 27 percent).
An important role is also played by the sports brand stores. About one-third of the sporty-active (35 percent) and almost a quarter of the sporty-inactive (24 percent) have shopped there. This means that the brand stores are still important sales channels for manufacturers and at the same time important for brand presentation to the public.

It should also be interesting to retailers of sports and outdoor goods that one-fifth of the sports-active claim to have purchased from the website of a sports specialist retailer in the last 1-2 years. With multichannel solutions, specialist shops thus gain the corresponding approval of consumers and have the opportunity of generating additional turnover via online sales.
When answering the question of where their last sporting goods were bought, it becomes clear that online sales can be an equivalent alternative. The share for stationary and online purchases is practically the same here.

Trend topics: Outdoor, athleisure, wearables and sustainability

As far as the most popular sports are concerned, outdoor activities seem to be the particular trend. Respondents listed as the top five trend sports stand-up paddling, parkour, wakeboarding, kitesurfing and freeriding.
It is also noticeable that many consumers are guided by fashion aspects when buying sportswear. More than half of the respondents say they buy items for fashion reasons. This preference is reflected in the so-called athleisure fashion trend. Athleisure stands for normal everyday clothing that is also designed for training and other sporting activities, and in reverse sporty clothing that can be worn for everyday use.
Another trend topic is wearables and devices. The interest here is especially great among the sporty-active, with a share of 62 percent. Among the sporty-inactive this still amounts to 40 percent who show an interest. This opens up interesting market potential for sports and electronics manufacturers.
Pulse watches, fitness trackers and chest straps are particularly popular (61 percent of the interested sports-active). Relatively widespread are GPS and navigation devices (43 percent of the interested sporty-active). Action cameras and drones (18 percent and 7 percent, respectively, of interested sports-active) show a hitherto low penetration rate.
The market research and consulting company Tractica estimates that shipments of wearables in 2020 will reach 196.9 million worldwide.

Marktanalyse_Weltweiter Markt Wearables

In the worldwide market for wearables, shipments are expected to reach 196.9 million in 2020. This equates to annual growth of 25 percent compared to 2013 (17.9 million shipments). (Source: Tractica)

In our article “Sustainability in eCommerce: How green is your online shop?“, you have already seen that consumer awareness of environmental and sustainability issues has increased significantly in recent years. In the outdoor and sports segment too, sustainability is increasingly becoming a trend topic. Some 60 percent of the sports-active say that sustainability is important to them in their purchasing decision.
When querying the understanding of “sustainability”, it becomes clear that the immediate benefit to the user in particular stands at the forefront: Durable quality, natural, non-toxic materials and environmental friendliness.

Whether a specialist or an all-rounder, orient yourself to the competition!

Especially in the sports and outdoor sector, retailers and manufacturers face a variety of challenges. On the one hand, it is important to find a viable balance between stationary and online sales. On the other hand, they must ask themselves the question of whether they, as a genuine specialist or as a broad all-rounder, can generate higher sales.
But no matter which distribution channels you choose, never lose sight of your competitors! The pricing and assortment design of your competition, after all, provides you with important information about where you stand in the market. Our automated software solution blackbee supports you with up-to-date and highly valid data. blackbee recognises market and price trends in every industry – even beyond national and linguistic borders.

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