Sport Retail – How it’s changing and evolving…
Working for a global VM and design agency, I have recently been looking in detail at Sport retail, an area that we already have extensive experience of as we work with two of the largest global brands adidas and Reebok.
As part of my role it is important that I know what is happening right now on the high street, what retailers are up to and how the industry is evolving and adapting to continuously engage, attract and retain the consumer of today.
So I laced up my trainers and spent the day in London visiting lots of Sport retail environments.
When I returned, I organised my findings into three broad categories; Sport Performance, Sport Lifestyle and Sport fashion. It was interesting to observe the different approach that each brand has adopted in this ever changing, evolving and blurring category.
Brands like adidas, Nike, Reebok, Asics and New Balance deliver an authentic sport focused retail environment where the consumer can immerse themselves in all things sport to participate or simply spectate. In store, shoppers can easily find products that help them to perform at their best, with key features, benefits and technology amplified through the VM presentation style. The consumer journey is simple and logical, with products typically organised by gender and then sport/usage. The in store experience is often enhanced with try-out areas where you can test the products before purchasing or service activations like foot gait analysis, where an in store expert will measure your feet, access your footprint and record your running style when on a treadmill in order to prescribe the right running shoe that best suits your personal stride.
Sport lifestyle retailers have embraced how people want to shop. They have tailored their in store environments to create spaces where you feel really comfortable to dwell, delivering a more personalised shopping experience and not just a place to transact and leave. Their marketing and promotion is community focused and they invest time to grow brand loyalty by proactively engaging with their customers. They do this in store by building a local following of people that will engage with them on many levels whether digitally, through the products and services they offer or the physical environment they create.
Some brands not only offer a wearable product range but coffee shops and areas where you can work, relax and socialise. The vibe is relaxed and there is no clinical hard sell, instead they invite customers to immerse themselves in the environment and adopt a ‘lifestyle’. Their marketing is more obviously influenced and linked to an awareness of the ethos and values of the company.
Going the extra mile, a brand like Lululemon give their customers the opportunity to take classes, meet experts and use their health café. The sales assistants are fully trained and knowledgeable about the technology and benefits of the products they are selling and will approach customers to converse about the free services and classes offered at that store.
Athleisure continues to be a growing trend that can carry you from the gym to the office or vice versa. Brands such as H&M, Gap and Uniqlo are offering competitively priced ranges which look good and can perform. Topshop understands the athleisure market, seizing the opportunity with Beyoncé’s Ivy Park sport range. The range is primarily worn by a younger consumer as a fashion statement, not for a sport. Interestingly, more traditional sport performance brands have capitalised on the athleisure market for many years now. adidas with adidas Originals and Reebok with Reebok Classic play an important role in the market.
I’m intrigued to see how the retail landscape within this sector is changing, developing and how the products and service have varied and blurred.
I am continuing with a deeper dive in to sport retail now, looking at value and luxury brands as well as visiting gyms and studios that have a retail offering. I am also looking at how brands focus their offer, digital marketing, collaborations etc. to create a true omni channel consumer experience.
Franky Farra Frond
Assistant Visual Manager