Market drivers

E-commerce

Although the physical store model remains very strong, the e-commerce segment is growing rapidly and has fast become an indispensable tool to get closer to customers as part of multi-channel strategies.

As more customers purchase goods via smartphones, leading players are also developing their app offerings and running exclusive app-only deals. For instance, Go Outdoors recently developed an app that allows customers to show their iPhone instead of their discount card in store.

Another trend has been the emergence of ‘flash-sale’ sites selling sports and outdoor brands. A flash-sale is a highly discounted time limited offer on a specific brand, meaning that the price reductions can be significant. One of the leading players in this market is UK-based SportPursuit which works with more than 1000 global brands.

Although the UK is a particularly strong e-commerce market, we are seeing significant growth across Europe. In Germany, for instance, online sales for sports and camping goods increased at a CAGR of 11.7% in the six year period from 2009, with sales reaching €1.3bn.

Outdoor Equipment and Clothing Clearthought – market drivers Image
Outdoor Equipment and Clothing Clearthought – market drivers Image

Innovation

The outdoor market is one of the most innovative in the entire apparel sector. Much of this innovation stems from the very technical nature of outdoor clothing, with many of these innovations now transferring across into more mass market clothing and products.

This innovation also feeds through to the textile supply chain. For instance, the Textile and Clothing Association of Portugal (ATP) has seen exponential growth in the high-tech textiles segment, especially with applications in sports clothing.

It forecasts that high-tech textiles will more than double to 25% of the sector’s turnover by 2020. However, even this figure lags behind countries like Germany where it is nearer 40%.

Sustainability

More and more outdoor companies have set out to make their entire supply chain as sustainable as possible, a measure which is increasingly judged by customers.

For instance, a growing indicator is a company’s Sustainability Image Score (SIS) which demonstrates the impact of sustainability and corporate responsibility on the company’s image and how the communication of sustainability is perceived and valued by consumers.

Several outdoor leisure companies made it into the top ten in the 2016 SIS ranking, including US firm Patagonia and German companies Schöffel and Vaude.

Other leading players such as Fenix Outdoor, the owner of Scandinavian brand Fjällräven, put sustainability at the heart of their business. For instance, over the past year the company has strengthened its links with the Sustainable Apparel Coalition which is constructing a standardised global supply chain measurement tool which reflects the environmental and social impacts of production.

High visibility

The market for high visibility apparel is set to rise markedly in coming years driven by legislation governing the use of high visibility protective apparel, advances in wearable technology, and the development of products which are environmentally sustainable1.

High visibility materials have found their way into an increasing number of apparel categories, including casualwear, corporate apparel, fashionwear, promotional apparel, recreational wear and sportswear. They are also increasingly being used in non-apparel items, including backpacks, running shoes and bicycles.

Wearable high vis technology is also becoming increasingly prominent as a result of technological developments such as washable high visibility garments which incorporate light emitting diodes (LEDs).

1 Textiles Intelligence – High visibility apparel: providing protection, safety, comfort and style

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