Sporting goods manufacturers emerged from the recession with solid increases, especially in the exercise equipment and licensed merchandise categories which both experienced growth rates of over 5% last year. These vendors see a positive outlook for 2011. As a result, they plan to increase capacity by building factories and hiring U.S. workers. In addition, they plan to restore some of the marketing budgets which were cut in the past 2 years.
The leading categories in the total $74.2 billion sporting goods equipment industry at the wholesale level are:
- Exercise Equipment: $4.3 billion
- Sports Apparel: $29.58 billion
- Athletic Footwear: $12.6 billion
- Licensed Merchandise: $7.9 billion
To boost sales, sporting goods manufacturers will offer trade support to retailers but they’ll also market to consumers. Planned increases in the marketing effort break out as follows:
- Advertising +10%
- Sponsorship +9%
- Sales promotions +6%
- Player endorsements +3%
Industry operators also expect to use social media creatively. According to the 2011 SGMA State of the Industry Report, Facebook, Twitter and Shutterfly are proving popular for ‘leading edge’ sporting goods marketers. Analysts pointed to the success of the Easton’s Dream Job competition which encouraged fans to try for a job while they demonstrated their web-based skills as they touted the joys of team sports like lacrosse. In addition, several merchants have identified reluctant girls and women as target audiences and are reaching out to them with new ad campaigns.
Sporting goods manufacturers will also be educating fans on new products that merge sports and consumer electronics. Up to 37% of consumers say they’ll be in the market for a fitness technology product in the next year. Fitness training apps may be marketed as the perfect companion to the new elliptical or set of weights that a consumer purchases.
Either way, the sporting goods industry seems prepared to leave the recession behind and begin marketing new programs to get consumers buying again.[Source: 2011 SGMA State of the Industry Report. SGMA.com. 2011. Web. 27 May 2011]