Sporting Brands are Running with the Online Fitness Craze, But Can Their Support Keep Up?
The pandemic has forced a lot of businesses to choose between either completely shutting down or devising strategies to customise their operations to fit the need for the “new normal”. One such industry that has seen a radical shift in how it is traditionally operated is the sporting goods industry.
A consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in most of the world having to coop up in our houses which have raised serious challenges with regard to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. With both gyms closing down and work and school shifting to home, a significant portion of our day has shifted indoors which means that people are not getting even the usual amount of physical activity they once used to.
Trends in Consumer Behavior and Sales
The indoor-lifestyle hasn’t stopped people from being conscious about their physical health as 70% of Brits have said they have taken some form of physical activity at home. However, the demand for sporting equipment in the post-Covid world has taken a serious hit. The intent of sporting goods purchase has been consistently lower in 2020 compared to last year.
The relatively sustained demand for sporting goods compared to other industries can be explained by the fact that most people have shifted to jogging or home workouts and a considerable number has taken up cycling. Sales of sporting goods have shown an increasing trend post-lockdown with most major brands showing an increase in demand.
However, the sports retail industry has not seen enthusiastic support amongst the British with the locals not seeing them as an essential business despite some companies claiming that with gyms closed, sports retailers are needed more than ever. A changing sporting goods industry landscape does raise questions regarding the transformation of the industry to fit the needs of the post-covid world.
How has the Pandemic Changed the Fitness Industry?
So, what are some of the trends in the fitness industry and how businesses can ensure remaining competitive while simultaneously raising demand for their goods by changing their operations and approach to marketing? Sporting companies have traditionally advertised their products during large sporting competitions and events like Olympics, World Cup, or Wimbledon, but with Covid-related restrictions in place and sporting events being postponed, these companies need to explore different avenues to showcase their products and innovation.
Furthermore, the fitness industry has seen rising popularity amongst activities adopted to fit the needs of lockdowns like outdoor individual sporting, home-based sports, or workouts. All these trends aside, one important defining characteristic of the post-covid world is the perpetual uncertainty which means that any business which is able to adopt the quickest will fare much better compared to the competition.
How can Sporting Brands Adapt to the Pandemic?
Whether the sporting industry is able to keep up with the perpetually changing needs of the “new normal” will hinge on the fact whether they are able to adapt and transform according to the following emerging trends in consumption pattern, digitization, and industry disruption.
A trend that pre-dates Covid but has become more relevant than ever is that of athleisure. With workspace breaching one’s private space, the need for the current market is for hybrid clothing that can work in both professional settings and are comfortable.
Lockdown, in addition to bringing new challenges, has exacerbated some old ones. One of which is the rising physical activity gap. Although a third of the population has become more active, the bottom third has reported being much less active than before. With retailing being not as accessible as before, long-lasting products are another area that needs attention. Digitization of the fitness industry has become paramount but this shift isn’t as radical as one might think because a lot of these emerged well before the pandemic.
Physical distancing limitations mean gyms were not accessible so the new thing is digital workouts, but these were popular well before the pandemic as fitness channels on YouTube attract millions of viewers. Furthermore, as discussed above, the usual marketing approach in sports was large events and sponsorships but in 2020 with most of our lives shifting online, marketing needs to shift the medium for marketing which some already have as we see social media influencers endorsing various sporting brands. E-commerce is again something we are already familiar with but in a pandemic where brick and mortar businesses are closing down, these brands need to radically improve the online shopping experience.
Most of the infrastructure is already present to fulfill the pandemic need. Whether sporting brands are able to maintain their operations and keep up with the supply will be determined by their creativity and innovation as they try to stand out amongst the competition by providing a better service and customer experience in the “new normal.”
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