By Nathan Rigby, VP Sales and Marketing at One Click Retail

Sports & Outdoors is one of Amazon’s largest product groups in Europe, generating over €1.2 billion 2017 estimated sales. While brick-and-mortar chains have struggled to remain relevant, Amazon’s market has matured and, after several years of rapid growth, has begun to stabilize.

Sports & Outdoors in Europe: The Amazon Effect

Sports & Outdoors sales on Amazon.co.uk grew by 13% in 2017. Across all markets, the retailer’s sales in this space have begun to plateau, though their growth is still far outpacing that of their competitors in both eCommerce and brick-and-mortar retail. The maturity of the market has not been lost on brands, with many having already shifted their focus from in-store sales in favor of Amazon. Even long-time holdout Nike recently partnered with Amazon after steadily losing customers to Adidas, its top competitor and an Amazon first party seller.

As consumers embrace a more active lifestyle and spend more time outdoors, they’re also relying increasingly on online shopping, with Amazon being the most popular choice. Let’s take a look at the biggest trends in the European Sports & Outdoors market as seen on Amazon.

Sports & Outdoors in Europe: The Amazon Effect

What’s Big

  • Cycling

In Amazon’s three largest European markets, the UK, Germany and France, Cycling has consistently ranked as one of the top categories. In 2017 Cycling was #52 in Germany, #3 in France and #5 in the UK. Sales are driven by security; in both Germany and the UK the #1 item was a bike lock (from ABUS and Kryptonite respectively) and in France the top item was a helmet from Overade.

It’s worth noting that the bestselling items in both Germany and France are produced by domestic brands, while in the UK the #1 item is from an American brand. Though not a hard-and-fast rule, Amazon’s sales in the UK have a tendency to mirror sales trends in the US, while in continental Europe consumers favor domestic brands. The takeaway is that US and UK brands would be smart to market their products on both Amazon.com and .co.uk, while European brands have a better chance of becoming category leaders if they invest in their local markets.

  • Home Fitness Equipment

The popularity of cycling in Europe extends into home fitness equipment, which makes up many of the top selling Sports & Outdoors products in the UK, Germany and France. Exercise Bikes is one of the largest subcategories in each country, with the F-Bike from Ultrasport having the most success in Europe as the #1 Sports & Outdoors item in France and the #2 and #3 items in the UK. In Germany, a domestic brand, Christopeit, beats Ultrasport in Exercise Bikes, but the latter brand ranks just behind it. It’s worth noting that this item is currently almost 50% off on Amazon.co.uk and is available for international delivery, so sales may not necessarily originate in the UK.

The #1 item in each country is a piece of home fitness equipment – the F-Bike in France, a yoga mat from Blackroll in Germany, and a Rower from Concept2 in the UK. The Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine is a bestseller in both the US and Europe. Despite being produced by an American brand, it’s the top Rower in Germany and the #2 Sports & Outdoors items overall. In France, it ranks as the #2 Rower behind the Air Tornado from V-Fit, an item which costs only about a third of the price of the Concept2 Model D. V-Fit has an opportunity to market itself as a low-cost alternative to Concept2 in the larger German and UK markets in order to boost sales.

Sports & Outdoors in Europe: The Amazon Effect

What’s Growing

  • Athletic Sports Apparel

Sports Apparel is certainly not an emerging category – the Athletic and Outdoor Sports Apparel categories combined were worth an estimated $75 million in the UK in 2017, more than double the next largest category, Camping & Outdoors – and yet it just keeps on growing. Athletic Sports Apparel was the fastest growing category of 2017 by far with 54% growth, climbing just slightly above Outdoor Sports Apparel in total size (that category also experienced above-average year-over-year growth).

In Germany, Athletic and Outdoor Sports Apparel both also rank in the top 5 categories; the top Athletic Apparel item in both the UK and Germany is a baseball cap (from MLB and Nike respectively) and the top Outdoor Apparel item in both countries is rain gear (from Berghaus and The North Face respectively).

Driving this growth is the ongoing athleisure trend – consumers leading more active lifestyles are finding they prefer the comfort of athletic apparel, to the point that it’s become a fashionable look and is increasingly accepted in the workplace. However, quality is the primary concern for consumers more educated than ever about Sports & Outdoors gear. Known and trusted brands have a distinct advantage in the space, and customer ratings and reviews are highly valued by shoppers.

  • Camping

Camping is driving many consumer trends in Europe. Though not as common of a pastime as in North America, its popularity is growing, with Camping & Outdoors now ranking as the #1 category on Amazon in both Germany & France and #3 in the UK. In continental Europe, sales were spread out across a wide range of subcategories, including knives, water filters, lighting and other accessories, including a pair of binoculars from Bushnell, the top item in France. In Germany, where Camping & Outdoors pulled in an estimated €170 in sales in 2017, no single subcategory captured more than 15% of the category, the largest being Backpacks and the bestselling item being a Swiss Army Knife.

In the UK, the winning camping brand was Coleman, with three different tents ranking among the top 25 items including the #4 item, an extra-large event shelter. Like in Germany, Backpacks were the largest subcategory, but the top item was the Milestone Camping Single Flocked Airbed. This low-price portable air mattress points to one of the most promising emerging outdoors trends of today: comfort. As “the outdoors” becomes less of an activity and more of a lifestyle choice for many Europeans, they place more value on high-quality gear designed to make camping more comfortable. “Glamping”, combining the glamorous comforts of home with traditional camping, is driving sales of items like high-quality portable beds, full-sized pop-up shelters, outdoor cooking appliances, and even portable showers.

 

 

We’re just scratching the surface of what’s taking place in Europe’s large and dynamic Sports & Outdoors space and the effect of Amazon on the industry. There are other categories being captured by Amazon, such as Ski/Snowboarding and the emerging Scooters market, while others are remaining in the grip of brick-and-mortar stores, such as Hunting and Watersports. One thing is for sure: consumers are living more active lifestyles and spending more time outdoors, and Amazon is the fastest-growing Sports & Outdoors retailer in Europe. All brands have to do is go where the customers go.

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