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SPORTING GOODS 101.
THE DHL SECTOR GUIDE

sport watch

Expected to be worth US$89.2bn by 2025, health and fitness is a bigger business than ever. Driven by new tech developments and a social and cultural shift towards health, amateurs and professionals alike are keenly buying into performance progress tracking.

What people are playing

The sporting goods sector is benefiting from improved standards of living and the rising appeal of sport as a cultural activity.


Sport has even entered the fashion world, with trainers outselling heels for British women for the first time in 2015. So be sure to stock and sell technical apparel as well as activewear and sportswear fashion items.


Participation rates have also increased – particularly in alternative and gymnastic activities such as yoga, pilates and tai chi. Boosting demand for specialist mats, blocks and belts, this has led to the fitness and strength equipment segment anticipating the sector's second highest growth rate to 2025. It comes in just behind the ball games segment, which retains its market share top spot.


TIP: Strengthen your offering outside of ball games to stay competitive.

TRAINERS

HEELS

Participation rates have also increased – particularly in alternative and gymnastic activities such as yoga, pilates and tai chi. Boosting demand for specialist mats, blocks and belts, this has led to the fitness and strength equipment segment anticipating the sector's second highest growth rate to 2025. It comes in just behind the ball games segment, which retains its market share top spot.


TIP: Strengthen your offering outside of ball games to stay competitive.

Where sporting goods are selling

Specialty sports shops will continue to play their part, providing everything in one place and the ability to try out equipment first. However, competition is increasing from e-commerce giants, meaning brick and mortar stores should develop their own websites too.

Regionally, Asia-Pacific is growing fastest, with emerging markets such as India and the Middle East enjoying additional disposable income. Are you serving these areas with local language websites?

China is also now a major sporting goods market, boosted by the government's 2014 policy committed to developing the industry. It is now growing faster than most sectors, though basketball remains in the lead. China even registered as the American NBA's largest international market, highlighting the need to research unlikely overseas opportunities.

TIP: Search where interest for your products is the highest, and make sure you offer the localized payment options these markets are using.

Sports equipment is getting smarter

Moving players and the market forwards, smart sport technology is now found in everything from tennis rackets and baseball bats to swimming goggles and fishing rods. Measuring biometric data for the user to improve their swing, aim or stroke, they have become essential for professionals and popular among amateurs too.

Item 1

SwingTracker

Records fifteen measurements, such as power, speed and efficiency of a baseball batter's swing. It can be mounted to the bottom of your bat or bought built-in through one of their partners.

Item 2

Wilson X Connected Football

Available in junior and standard sizes, to suit all ages of aspiring American footballers, their sensors detect the velocity, spin and distance of each throw of the ball, making it easier to track progress and target improvement.

Item 3

In/Out

This GoPro-style device clips onto a tennis net post and can detect which side of the net line a ball landed, helping to settle disputes quickly by using the same technology employed by self-driving cars for parking.

Tying into the fitness wearable craze, these devices sync with smartphones and are becoming increasingly affordable, opening up the market to smaller players. This then makes them better placed to serve the global smart market, with almost half of it taken up by mid-range products. You can take advantage by selecting products from smaller, reliable producers with strong reputations.


TIP: Time spent researching and measuring customer interest pays off. Stay on top of the latest trends, and look for import opportunities with new tech.

Tying into the fitness wearable craze, these devices sync with smartphones and are becoming increasingly affordable, opening up the market to smaller players. This then makes them better placed to serve the global smart market, with almost half of it taken up by mid-range products. You can take advantage by selecting products from smaller, reliable producers with strong reputations.


TIP: Time spent researching and measuring customer interest pays off. Stay on top of the latest trends, and look for import opportunities with new tech.

Using sensors for safety

Sensors are being incorporated into clothing too, analyzing the way the body moves. For example, pole-vaulters use them to determine their center of gravity in the air. Smart helmets are also coming to market, able to detect and disperse force to reduce head injury risks. They can then communicate with coaches to quickly take action against more serious collisions.

Using sensors for safety

Sensors are being incorporated into clothing too, analyzing the way the body moves. For example, pole-vaulters use them to determine their center of gravity in the air. Smart helmets are also coming to market, able to detect and disperse force to reduce head injury risks. They can then communicate with coaches to quickly take action against more serious collisions.

Likewise, chest protectors are being sold more widely to reduce the leading cause of death in kid' baseball leagues – commotio cordis, or 'commotion of the heart', caused by chest trauma from a fast-moving ball. The National Federation of State High School Associations made protection against the injury mandatory by January 2020, meaning this market, and safety equipment generally, holds great potential for developers and retailers.

TIP: Safety is big business. By protecting your customers, you could also be protecting your future. Look for opportunities to expand into this space where possible.

Going Global

Manufacturers are specifically targeting junior sports supplies equipment. For example, lighter soccer balls are being sold for heading practice as children and younger players may otherwise shy away from the technique and parents may be concerned by potential health implications. At-home batting cages are also allowing budding Babe Ruths to step up to bat in the comfort of their backyard, with easy, temporary setup and dismantling.

With this upcoming generation aspiring to be just like their TV sports idols, retailers must appeal to parents who are prepared to pay for such special tools and equipment if they promise success. However, with interest in certain sports now spreading beyond their home countries, the markets for many goods are widening too. If you specialize in a particular sport, are you selling to every country that plays it?

TIP: Make sure you have the full range of products available, and look for new markets where a sport is popular.

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