How the world of sporting goods is changing after Covid-19?
To understand what a hypothetical future will be, let’s start by asking ourselves if the consumer will always be the same or his habits will change, will we keep staying at home or will the drive to go out and exercise be greater? If the behaviors are seen from what happened in the first days of restart we can certainly say that there is a great desire for movement, there have never been so many families on bicycles, so many people jogging or or doing sporting activities on the streets and in the parks and on mountain trails, and from first indications from various countries of the world it seems that at the reopening the shops selling leisure equipment and clothing have been particularly popular and are out of stock for specific types of product. For now, this applies mainly to outdoor sports where there are not many interpersonal contacts but also for sports clubs and gyms there is a strong expectation which suggests a fast restart, naturally within the limit of distance. Certainly, however, the limited possibility of traveling abroad and the rediscovery or in some cases forced exploration of what surrounds us, will make us live more and more actively the outdoors, without forgetting that body health care and wellness they have become an essential value for our lives. If, therefore, a return to physical activity is already underway, it is equally true that there will be a rethinking of the values linked to sport, certainly an acceleration of what was already underway, namely a relative decrease in competitiveness and the search for the result, also due at to an ever greater distance from the performance of professional athletes, and a recovery of true values increasingly linked to well-being and health. A return therefore to the genuineness to the simplicity to an elimination of the superstructures, without forgetting how much technology has made available to us that which we have found extremely useful, which we certainly can’t do without. There is also an acceleration in the change in of purchasing habits due in part to an increasingly attentive and informed consumer who no longer relies on information from the trade but who has direct access to all the information necessary for an intelligent purchase and on the other hand to a delay in response from the offer. By now consumers are no longer looking for brands or products, but for experiences that must be increasingly credible, authentic, natural and shareable with one’s pairs.
But if these changes are now underway and make us think of a different near future and hopefully pink, how from a business point of view do companies experience this extremely challenging moment?
Certainly the business situation is not the easiest as in all the major sectors; two or more months of lock down will significantly weigh on the financial statements of the main companies, perhaps differently based on the product offered but undoubtedly it would be realistic to think of a minimum drop from 20 to 30% of the turnover. On the other hand, closed retailers, the impossibility of practicing any type of outdoor sport, in gyms and sports clubs has certainly postponed or completely canceled even part of the planned purchases for some time. This means lower income and a growth in distribution stocks and lower orders for both the next winter season and the following spring. The only companies that partially defended themselves are the ones that had accelerated over time on the online distribution which in this period has grown significantly. The strategy for this year therefore has to be: to defend yourself as best as you can, listen carefully to the needs of the consumer, be sensitive and transparent towards them and adapt your strategies accordingly. It will not be absolutely necessary There will be no need to be aggressive from a commercial point of view but it will be necessary to evaluate, in this difficult moment, how your brand can be close and give value to the consumer. Certainly in this phase the most authentic and “purpose driven” brands will benefit because they are increasingly in line with the values sought by the modern consumer, all the others will have to make themselves known more and more mainly for the value aspects they express and which will improve the reputation of brand. The communication support must not be reduced but modified in content with the main objective of transferring authentic experiences and stories. The media mix to be used must be addressed to the target audience, certainly by using social and online media now essential since, if properly used, they give us more possibilities to reach the targets with less dispersion (without thinking that investments will be reduced) but not neglecting traditional media which, especially if specialized, maintain a particularly high credibility and reach a wider audience.
How does the scenario evolve regarding distribution?
By now consumers are no longer looking for brands or products, but for experiences that must be increasingly credible, authentic, natural and shareable with one’s pairs
What to say about distribution, undoubtedly the sector most affected directly and with immediate effect due to the lack of purchases and related income. We have already said that this will lead to greater more prudence on their part in purchases for both autumn and next spring due to high stocks and a lack of liquidity, but many of them will have to rethink customer relations and consequently on what new model to set up their stores. In fact, especially the small traditional distribution was already experiencing a moment of difficulty due to the push of e-commerce and their reluctance to change their role towards an increasingly attentive and informed public. The growth of e-commerce in fact certainly occurred because of the lock down but also thanks to a much wider and deeper offer and a superior capacity to sell experiences and service to those of traditional retail. If the chains and large groups have already partially been able to respond by organizing a mix of online sales and presence with an evolved service base, traditional retail must necessarily change pace. It will have to change its approach towards the consumer who must find in them an accomplice with whom to share passions and shopping experiences: and towards the companies that will have to find in them an antenna on the market and a true marketing partner who will have to find in them the primary source of information on consumer needs and constant dialogue with them. Communication with customers will have to continue in a direct way capable of fueling their passions and in this they will have as their precious allies the social media that will give them the possibility of a continuity of conversation. They will have to evaluate this moment of difficulty as an opportunity to review the offer and lay out of their stores making them a place of aggregation and contact by mixing traditional sales with online sales which will allow them to serve an increasingly sophisticated and specialized audience.
Traditional retail has to change its approach towards the consumer who must find in them an accomplice with whom to share passions and shopping experiences