There’s no doubt that the UK health and fitness industry continues to go from strength to strength; according to LeisureDB’s 2019 State of the UK Fitness Industry Report, the number of fitness facilities in the UK went up from 7,038 to 7,239 in the 12 months up to the end of March 2019, as total market value also increased by 4.2%, reaching £5.1 billion.
In short, sports and fitness in the UK remain a very big deal. It is also an industry, however, that is ever-dynamic, constantly being reshaped by new trends and developments that your own brand must remain abreast of if it is to stay competitive in this sector.
Here are just some of those trends and patterns that have become apparent in the sports and fitness ecommerce industry during 2019 so far.
The continued rise of ‘athleisure’
The popularisation of ‘athleisure’ – defined by Merriam-Webster as “casual clothing designed to be worn both for exercising and for general use” – has captured the imaginations of all manner of shoppers, brands and observers in recent years. Well, guess what? There’s no sign of it going away any time soon.
Millennials, in particular, love being able to purchase comfortable clothing such as sports-oriented T-shirts, tops and tracksuits that work just as well for shopping trips and lazy afternoons in the house as they do in the gym or at the stadium. This makes it all the more important for your brand to keep an eye out for the latest sub-trends within athleisure that continue to emerge.
Social media is undimmed in its power
The connection between sports and fitness ecommerce retailers and social networks may seem to be old news, but the latest developments in this space certainly aren’t.
In fact, platforms like Facebook are continuing to show their worth for lead generation and customer targeting, except that now, brand ambassadors and influencers are bringing a different dynamic to product promotions and customer referrals.
A heightened emphasis on personalisation
When even the most obvious powerhouse brands like Adidas and Nike are providing customers with easy means of designing their own shoes, there’s good reason to suspect that simply buying whatever design or colour you can find ‘on the rack’ when you turn up at the store is becoming a little passé.
Of course, much as personalisation is being used by such brands to heighten their appeal among target customers, so it is also proving invaluable in their efforts to identify and reach such customers in the first place. Never before has the most detailed customer demographic information been so coveted by brands seeking to formulate a laser-targeted advertising approach.
More inclusive values
It feels like a long time now since the CEO of Canadian athletic apparel retailer Lululemon Athletica controversially declared that plus-size clothing wasn’t part of the brand’s “formula”. Indeed, the company was criticised for decades for not catering to the plus-size customer, but has come into line with the changed climate in recent years by improving its size-inclusive credentials.
We’re seeing a similar tendency elsewhere in 2019; brands are becoming more averse to excluding any demographic that may have reason to take an interest in their products, not least because in the social media landscape of today, they can be so easily called out for it, with dire PR consequences.
The attraction of the smaller-scale ‘craft’ designer
Sure, the usual heavyweight multinational brands have shown as much clout in 2019 as they have in any other year. However, you may have also noticed the recent popularisation of smaller-scale designer athleisure, as older and slightly wealthier Millennials have sought new ways to both stand out from and fit in with their peers.
This trend is providing interesting avenues for newer and smaller brands to make key breakthroughs if they make all of the right moves, as might have seemed almost unthinkable just a few years ago.
The ongoing surge of mobile ecommerce
With Britons now said to be so attached to their smartphones that they spend the equivalent of more than a day a week online on average, it’s fair to say that ecommerce remains almost synonymous with mobile commerce.
That has become even more the case since Google’s rollout of mobile-first indexing; indeed, since the start of July this year, the search titan has defaulted to this for all new sites. It all means that the importance of providing a smooth and stress-free browsing and shopping experience for smartphone users has never been more pressing for sports and fitness e-tailers.
Would you like to learn more about how your sports or fitness ecommerce brand can better place itself to pinpoint and take advantage of the ongoing exciting trends in this fast-moving industry? If so, don’t hesitate to get in touch with me, Myk Baxter, so that we can discuss how I could best serve your requirements as a client.