Three questions for Tobias Gröber, executive director business unit consumer goods, Messe München, and head of ISPO Group
You have been represented in China since 2005 with ISPO BEIJING. What is your take on your involvement?
ISPO BEIJING has been growing continuously for years. It has evolved into the most important B2B multi-segment platform in the Asian region. The outdoor segment takes up the largest space with a wide variety of national and international exhibitors.
This successful development and the growing Chinese consumer market convinced us to launch a second exhibition in China, ISPO SHANGHAI, held from July 2 to 4 at the Shanghai New International Expo Centre (SNIEC). This exhibition focuses on the Outdoor, Health & Fitness, Sportstyle, Action Sports, Running, and Watersports segments, and before its doors have even opened, has already received a lot of positive feedback from international businesses such as the European Outdoor Group, and the industry. More than 350 exhibitors and over 470 brands confirmed their participation, among them well-known brands like Fjällräven, Mammut and Tittallon.
What are the reasons for these positive developments? What is your opinion of the Chinese market?
At the moment, China is experiencing an enormous growth spurt in its sports market. Higher income and more leisure time alter the consumer behavior of the Chinese population. At the same time, increased age and obesity have a negative effect on the population’s health. A result of this development is raised awareness for health, recreation and sports. The Chinese government supports this trend with an initiative, slated to motivate 500 million people to start exercising. In addition, the government endorses the sports and outdoor industry, whose share in the gross national product is to be increased from the current 0.6 percent to 1.0 percent by 2025. 35 years after the market opening China is no longer just a mere extension of the world’s manufacturing base, but a consumer market with enormous potential. Particularly in times of stagnating development in the European outdoor market the outdoor industry can look forward to completely new opportunities opening up in China. With regard to our ISPO BEIJING we are obviously also closely following China’s application for the Olympic Winter Games 2022. If the capital Beijing wins the bid to organize the 2022 Games many more opportunities and increased growth for the local market will follow.
The multi-sports segment is growing, new topics like Running, Sports Fashion or Watersports are moving into the spotlight, and the outdoor industry can participate in their progress.”
Tobias Gröber, head of ISPO Group
What are the challenges outdoor brands will be facing in the Chinese market?
A new era is dawning for the outdoor industry. The climate in the European market has become tougher, and at the same time, the Chinese market is in an early and growing state of development. The multi-sports segment is growing, new topics like Running, Sports Fashion or Watersports are moving into the spotlight, and the outdoor industry can participate in their progress.
These are the reasons why we are establishing another multi-segment exhibition in China, the ISPO SHANGHAI. It allows the authentic representation of the individual sports, as well as the creation and expansion of synergies with other segments. The exhibition provides the ideal platform for sporting goods manufacturers who are planning to invest heavily in China today, to maintain the level of a global player even 20 years from now.
There are a wide variety of challenges in China. Products have to be adjusted to the new market, for example in terms of fit, color and tailoring, yet it is also necessary to respect cultural aspects in business proceedings. During ISPO SHANGHAI, ISPO actively supports retail and industry in their expansion into China with the help of the Market Introduction Program. The two-day program provides detailed insights into the Chinese sports market and offers initial contacts to Chinese business partners.
Furthermore, the ISPO ACADEMY, which recently toured four different Chinese cities, offers specialty retailers and interested businesses year-round training programs at an international level. When planning a market entry in China, companies also need to take into account online retail in addition to stationary retail. E-commerce has been experiencing rapid development in China. By now it has claimed a market share of 17 percent, and growing. By finding the appropriate local partners outdoor companies will be able to profit from this trend as well.