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

When taken together, the Sports & Outdoors product groups comprise one of Amazon’s largest sectors, with an estimated 2017 value of $6.5 billion. This market is a mature one for Amazon, already past its explosive growth phase and settling into a period of stability with 15% year-over-year growth, down from 20% the previous year.Sports & Outdoors: The Amazon Effect

Between 2015 and 2017, while Amazon’s Sports & Outdoors product groups grew very rapidly, several US retail chains in this space went out of business. Americans were increasingly embracing an active lifestyle, and yet sporting goods stores sat empty. The same people who were taking on fitness and outdoorsmanship as a way of life were embracing online shopping at the same time – Amazon being the most popular choice.

Many leading brands saw the writing on the wall and have already shifted their focus from in-store sales to Amazon. Even long-time holdout Nike became a first-party seller last summer, causing the stock prices of brick-and-mortar competitors to drop. Amazon is now driving major trends in the Sports & Outdoors space, from athleisure to glamping. Let’s take a look at some of these key trends as seen on Amazon.

Sports & Outdoors: The Amazon Effect

What’s Big

  • Comfort

The largest Sports & Outdoors category has always been a close race between Exercise & Fitness and Camping & Outdoors. In 2017, the latter managed to displace the former as the #1 category after pulling in nearly twice as much growth, bringing 2017 sales to an estimated $1.05 billion.

Camping & Outdoors, including items like Air Mattresses, Coolers, Tents, and Camp Stoves, is home to one of the biggest active lifestyle trends of today: comfort. By far the largest subcategory is Air Mattresses, estimated at $110 million in sales at growing by 22% year-over-year. The subcategory has one standout leader, a Queen-sized Comfort Plush Elevated Dura-Beam Airbed from Intex, which was the #3 Sports & Outdoors item of 2017 while no other air mattresses appeared in the top 25.

This air mattress, which comes with a built-in electric pump, couldn’t be more well-suited to the glamping trend. Glamping, a portmanteau of “glamour” and “camping”, is the act of going camping but bringing as many of the comforts of home with you as possible. Some people adopt glamping because they’ve been camping all their lives but find that as they get older they don’t love “roughing it” the way they used to. Others adopt it because they’d like to spend more time outdoors but can’t live without their creature comforts. The growing popularity of glamping is driving sales of items like high-quality portable beds, full-sized pop-up shelters, outdoor cooking appliances, and even portable showers.

  • Concept2 Model D Indoor Rowing Machine

Exercise & Fitness is only marginally smaller than the leading category (estimated 2017 sales: $1 billion), and carries the majority of the bestselling individual items. 15 of the top 25 Sports & Outdoors items of 2017 fall under Exercise & Fitness, with consumer purchase decisions heavily influenced by brand awareness. Consumers searching for exercise equipment on Amazon will typically use a specific brand name, and most exercise equipment subcategories tends to be dominated by a single leading item which takes up 20% of the subcategory’s total sales on average. For example, Bowflex dominates the Weights subcategory with a pair of SelectTech 552 Adjustable Dumbbells (#2 item of 2017) and the Innova ITX9600 (#5) dominates Inversion Tables.

The most notable example of this is in the Rowers subcategory. Concept2’s Model D Indoor Rowing Machine (Black) made up more than half of all first party Rowers sales in 2017 and was the #1 Sports & Outdoors item of 2017 (a color variant, in light gray, ranked very high as well at #8). This ASIN was also the #1 Sports & Outdoors product in the UK and the #1 Rower in Germany.

Sports & Outdoors: The Amazon Effect

What’s Growing

  • Scooters

Just sneaking in to the top 10 bestsellers of 2017 is an example of a major growing trend. The SWAGTRON T5 Entry Level Hoverboard is the #1 item in the Street, Surf & Snow category and an example of the emerging success of Scooters on Amazon (this item, a hoverboard, is classified in the Scooters – Electric category).

As younger generations spend more time shopping online, both electric and non-electric scooters are growing rapidly in popularity. The latter is the second largest subcategory and both are growing at over 40% YoY, together making up 25% of the Street, Surf & Snow category. Consumers interested in wheeled sports are moving aware from skateboards in favor of scooters and similar items such as hoverboards and electric unicycles. The largest brand in the Scooter space on Amazon, Razor, has successfully capitalized on the growing fascination with scooters with both tradition non-electric scooter and electric hoverboards, and now holds over 50% of all first party scooter sales.

  • Athletic Sports Apparel

The athleisure trend is nothing new – athletic apparel has been growing more popular as a comfort choice and even in professional settings for years – and yet it just keeps on growing. Athletic Sports Apparel was the fastest growing category of the year (44% growth compared to 2016) and contained the fastest growing subcategories: Exercise & Fitness Tops and Exercise & Fitness Bottoms, both with about 80% YoY growth. A related category, Outdoor Sports Apparel, also ranked in the top 10 and experienced above-average growth last year

Whether this is because Americans, in their increasingly active lifestyles, are finding they prefer the feeling of athletic apparel or it’s more of a fashion statement (or both), Amazon has identified Athletic Apparel as one of the key growth opportunities in this market. In response to this, the company has invested heavily in the industry, improving its reputation with manufacturers (and landing Nike as a partner) as well as introducing three private brands in the space. The Amazon-owned Athletic Apparel brands Goodsport, Peak Velocity, and Rebel Canyon were launched in October 2017, but it’s too early to say how much success Amazon will have with these new market entrants in this brand-driven space.

 

We’re just scratching the surface of what’s taking place in the large and dynamic Sports & Outdoors space and the effect of Amazon on the industry. There are other product categories that are being captured by Amazon, such as Boating & Fishing and Hunting, Airsoft & Paintball, while others are falling off while consumers stick to brick-and-mortar stores, such as Cycling and Team Sports. One thing is for sure: consumers are as hungry as ever for Sports & Outdoors goods and Amazon is the fastest-growing retailer in the space. All brands have to do is go where the customers go.

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