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ISPO Munich: More than a Sports Industry Trade Fair

6 min read

The motto for the 2020 edition of the ISPO Munich fair was “Be responsible. Be creative. Be active.” But the truth is, it is not always easy to find a space where ideas or reflections can be shared so freely. But from the moment I walked into ISPO Munich, it seemed like anything was possible…

A trade fair on a massive scale

My first impression upon arriving at Messe München was how lucky I was that my first visit to ISPO coincided with its 50 year anniversary, and that this was indeed going to be a Great Event. As I mentioned in an earlier post, ISPO Munich is really impressive.

Consider the data to get a better grasp of the sheer scale of this trade fair:

  • Over 200,000 m2 of exhibition space (a total of 18 pavilions!)
  • 2,850 exhibitors
  • 80,000 visitors from more than 120 countries

It is no wonder that on more than one occasion I had to sit down with a coffee and a floor map in hand to plan my next destination.


The Interweaving of Sport, Retail and Fashion

Despite not being a retail-oriented fair, retail was very much present at ISPO Munich. Starting with the design of the stands themselves, where products were presented in a way that is reminiscent of real stores in our streets.

Retail was also very present across many product presentations, where customer needs were very much at the heart of the discussion.

In one of the panels, entitled “The Evolution of Retail”, I had the opportunity to come across a very interesting store concept located inside Stockholm’s NK department store. A shopping center that receives a total of 12 million visitors a year is also home to NK Sport, whose interior, as you can see, is almost minimalist in design, and resembles a luxury store. Its objective? Attract the type of buyer who is not necessarily an expert or a great sports practitioner, but who is seduced by style.

I bet you’ve never seen an ice axe so well-displayed, as if it were jewelry for sale…

Speaking of retail, it is impossible not to view the role of physical stores and how they should be capable of offering truly differentiated experiences. Ramir de Porrata-Doria, founder and CEO of the Spanish company Keonn Technologies, which specializes in RFID solutions and was also present during the NRF Big Show in New York, reiterated how RFID technology seems to have finally reached a significant degree of adoption. Brands like Decathlon have already used it for some time.

Another buzzword that those of us in marketing love so much is OMO — or Online Merge Offline — which refers to a new stage of integration and fusion of channels, of which Alibaba is a clear example in China, with its “New Retail” concept. I’ll come back to China later, but before I do…

I’d like to point out how the fusion between sport and fashion is stronger than ever. We have long seen how many fashion brands have launched their own sports product lines. This trend that will continue. With is striking design and its clear association with the fashion world, I think it’s worth highlighting the exemplary Emporio Armani stand:


The Sports Industry: a Hub for Sustainability?

No one doubts that today sustainability is a priority for many companies, and the sports sector is no exception. Sustainability was a pervasive issue throughout the fair, with various experts sharing their vision on sustainability-related issues, clearly demonstrating ISPO’s support for the development of a more sustainable and responsible movement among all industry players.

One presentation in particular, presented by Benjamin Marias, I found especially interesting, as it presented data that can only make us reflect and provided information to learn more about the most common business models today which revolve around the “circular economy” concept. In line with these trends are changes in new consumer habits, such as the growing number who are more willing to pay for access rather than ownership of products.

Today more and more consumers are more willing to pay for access rather than ownership of a product.  

If you want to know more, I recommend reading the report “The future of circular fashion” that Benjamin talked to us about during his presentation.


A few words about China…

If we talk about new trends in retail and the changing habits of today’s consumers, we must certainly look at China. It wasn’t in my plan, but I had the opportunity to attend a very interesting presentation by Dr. Teo Pham who talked about the latest trends in the Chinese market, and social commerce in particular.

Even for brands that are not in China nor have plans to be, knowing about what is happening there is still necessary if they want to be prepared for the future. Because this trend is already here, and it will only grow stronger… Tick tock, tick tock …

Here’s a few interesting facts about Influencers in China:

  • Influencers in China (there they are called KOL, or Key Opinion Leaders) represent an industry worth $30 billion.
  • Some have already started with their own brands, competing directly with established ones.
  • It is believed that a brand belonging to one of these influencers may be the next billion-dollar company. Some of them have truly incredible sales numbers. One influencer sold 100 Mini Coopers in 5 minutes at WeChat. Another, sold $200,000 worth in handbags, in just 12 minutes. The monthly revenue for influencer can reach $100,000 or more.
  • Live Streaming has become the new tele-store, with people selling or simply broadcasting live while doing some activity through multiple channels. Don’t believe it? Tell it to the ones who have all these phones live streaming for different channels, all set up on one table … I count 36…

This topic could merit its own blog post filled with many more interesting facts, but the main point is that a cashless society is becoming increasingly prevalent. Oh, and one more fact that is driven by the use of mobile phones: the boom of vertical video apps. TikTok is perhaps the best-known, and if you haven’t heard of it yet, time for a quick Google search. Hint: It’s not just for teenagers; it also works for brands. But that’s a conversation for another day…


Product Innovation Awards: ISPO Brandnew 2020

In a trade fair like ISPO, where almost any sport you can think of was represented, you are never far from innovation. ISPO Brandnew is a competition that seeks to recognize new brands breaking into the industry with innovative products. Brands like GoPro were once winners.

This year, there were companies from different countries and participants competing within different categories. You can see here the full list of winners. Among them, the final winner was Austrian startup EXOLung, who presented a revolutionary design for diving equipment. Its function relies on turning the diver’s swimming movements into air movement, maintaining the air flow while the diver is still swimming, which resembles the functioning of a pair of artificial outdoor lungs.

Truly brilliant, like the trade fair itself. Here ends the summary of my first visit to ISPO Munich. Given the experience, it seems that it will not be the last.

See you  next time at ISPO Munich!

Were you there too? What did you think about it? Comment and share!

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