The greatest problem in the sporting goods industry is not the size of the market, but the lack of customer loyalty.
Price is not a driver among people who are out to buy sporting goods. A survey just released by Harris Interactive has found that people who are active sports participants are much less motivated by price than by quality. The emphasis on marketing these goods should be on the performance and fashion elements of these goods, not on price. In fact, some consumers saw cheaper prices as indicating lower quality and value of products.
This perception showed up in an analysis of the retail trends too: over the last year purchasers of these goods moved towards general apparel, department and sporting goods stores and away from discount stores and pro shops.
Knowledgable sales staff
According to the report, the primary drivers were not price or location, but product selection, customer service and knowledgeable sales staff. However, the authors of the report point out that capturing the mass market can be an expensive proposition if it isn't coupled with a customer retention strategy.
Loyalty is greatest challenge
In fact, the greatest problem in the sporting goods industry is not the size of the market, but the lack of customer loyalty. There are pockets of loyalty within the sports equipment category and for the experienced athlete, but building brand and retailer loyalty for the mass consumer market is a necessary (and less expensive option) for increasing revenue than other options. It is crucial to use it to build on the investment that has already been made in capturing new customers.
Over the past year, the people purchasing sporting goods dropped by between 5% and 15%, while the number taking part in sports fell by 9%. These are signs that the industry needs to refocus its efforts. Some suggestions in the report are: promoting the 'fun' element of playing sport, promoting the fashion element of the apparel, emphasising product performance, and making customer service paramount.