BACK TO SPORT … back to reality!

mondo dell'articolo sportivo

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Dear readers, this article is dedicated to the world of sport, considering that we are entering the heart of the season in which many people start outdoor physical activity again.

Of all the product categories, the world of sporting goods is the one that managed to contain the damage during the pandemic, thanks also to the fact that people wanted to continue to do some exercise even with all the limitations that we know well.

This has meant that, compared to other sectors, the operators of this market have continued their evolution by renewing the stores according to the current needs of consumers. Here, too, the online sale is growing exponentially, however, it still holds up a lot the sale at the physical store.

world of sporting goods

Why is this happening?

Probably the consumer during the pandemic made an indigestion of online purchases and as soon as it was possible to appreciate again the pleasure of returning to the physical store did not miss the opportunity. Finally, we went back to testing and testing the products, especially the technical ones such as tools or accessories.

Recently we have made a tour of the most significant realities of the Italian territory, noting that at the moment there is a very rich offer that goes from the simple store exclusively of sneakers, up to the large commercial container that treats all the sports categories going into detail of the various needs. Basically today, the sports goods market is divided between those who propose themselves as a technical/performing offer and those who instead mainly propose themselves with more sportswear and fashion items.

Both companies, however, can not help but dedicate a lot of space to footwear, which embraces a very wide range of consumers; it goes from those who simply want a comfortable shoe to those who make instead a performant use for competitive activity.

world of sporting goods

The signs and chains of the sports sector are now many in the Italian market, from CISALFA to AW LAB, to switch from JD SPORT to FOOT LOCKER, and again from SNIPES to DECATHLON and many others who have positioned themselves as niche specialists. There are also multi-regional realities such as SPORTLER and KING SPORT, to which are added the individual brands with single-brand stores. There is therefore an embarrassment of choice and above all there is a very high level of competitiveness in terms of image and commercial offer.

Now the interesting thing is to understand how we have “to read” these stores, namely:
– should we analyze them with the unconscious gaze of the final consumer unaware of all marketing dynamics?
-or perhaps it is better to provide you with an expert analysis?
Both scenarios are probably interesting.

world of sporting goods

From a customer’s point of view, stores nowadays must be easy to read, convenient to visit and simple to find the product. Possibly with an advantageous economic offer in the price/quality ratio. The market today offers such a wide choice that it is possible to shop in different stores depending on the specific needs and availability of your portfolio. The consumer  goes to a sporting goods store substantially to “reward” himself, make a gift to someone or buy products for the family.

In some Italian regions you can see the various chains, a few kilometers away from each other, fighting each other to the sound of promotions, offers and discounts. So the consumer, increasingly demanding in terms of supply, takes all the time necessary for a considered purchase. The customer today, as soon as he enters a store, if he has not been attracted by the windows, wants to immediately understand how to orient himself inside the store.

The most important thing, therefore, is to immediately give reference points on:
– the identity of the sign or brand.
-what are the various departments.
-immediate first, second and third level communication.
-implement a policy of visual merchandising that allows you to find products in colors and sizes as quickly as possible.

The threshold of attention of the consumer is much lower than our insiders, so very often can not see things that in reality are very obvious but that for laziness or unawareness can not collect. What the customer expects is definitely a space rationalization based on gender; or man, woman or child or on the sports world to which they belong, for example running, basketball, football outdoor etc.

world of sporting goods

For younger and digitalized customers, we are witnessing in an increasingly present way the possibility of being able to find information through totems with touch screen monitors, that allows them to search for products within the chain’s point of sale more quickly. This is also done through the service of sellers who are equipped with a handheld are able to meet all requests.

But what is the consumer looking for besides what we have just written?

Surely courtesy and competence that still today after so many years is not so easy to find. There is a return and a desire to human contact. The job of shop assistant, especially after the advent of the pandemic, is losing a bit of career perspective and the new generations see this professional opportunity as a time of transition in which to stop and then achieve other goals in other areas.

One of the most frequent difficulties encountered by retailers is to be able to count on a qualified staff that remains in the role at least for 3/4 years; the time inside the role is in fact lowering in important way and the turnover is rising. Certainly this is a problem of generational professional culture but also of career prospects on the part of companies.

world of sporting goods

However, knowing well what are the costs of personnel in our country, it also becomes difficult for companies to succeed in building a training program of growth having to bear very high costs If instead we look at the situation from the point of view of the professional who works in this field, I must admit that at this time for companies it is not easy to stay in the market, because the offer is so wide that the end customer is almost stunned. Above all, it becomes very difficult to engage him because he is already bombarded with information, proposals and offers that pulverize the turnover among all the operators in the sector.

Today the consumer is used to it very well, or very badly depending on the point of view.
He has such high expectations in terms of offer, perhaps also because of the online sale, that he hardly goes to a store by making the purchase at first glance,  but more and more want to get an idea between physical store and online store in order to invest their money at best. Also consider that all the chains we mentioned, as well as the individual brands that are within their stores, are also present in the outlet circuit thus giving even more product presence on the market.

How far will the market hold up? What will happen by 2025?

Probably the physical retail market will be more and more in the hands of a few “players” who will “share the cake” and will have to fight more and more with the sale ON LINE aiming, in my opinion, on the service in general. Service intended not only at the point of sale with the staff of the stores but everything related to the phase of “engagement” and after-sales.

by Paolo ZanardiXT srl

by AN shopfitting magazine no.169 ©