ISPO: Six Megatrends To Form Sporting Items’ Future


ISPO has identified six underlying “megatrends” that drive how customization, connectivity, urbanization, sustainability and other trends impacting sporting goods opportunities are evolving.

“Megatrends are the ‘blockbusters’ of change – long-term currents of social change in habits, behavior and values,” writes Christoph Beaufils, brand strategist at ISPO, in an article that first appeared in the “Niederbayerische Wirtschaft” of the Chamber of Industry and Commerce of Lower Bavaria.

Beaufils found that, according to futurologist Matthias Horx, megatrends have existed for more than 25 years, are worldwide and influence many areas of life. Beaufils: “They develop independently from society and, unlike fashion, cannot be planned.”

The Future Institute founded by Horx currently sees 12 megatrends – individualization, gender shift, silver society, knowledge culture, new work, health, neo-ecology, connectivity, globalization, urbanization, mobility and security.

ISPO, which organizes the world’s largest sports trade fair, ISPO Munich, used the findings of the Future Institute and presented six megatrends that will shape the sporting goods market.

1. Megatrend individualization: The freedom of self-determination
Which way of life is the right one and which life decisions one can make for oneself becomes more inevitable, social expectations are broken more often. Job, sexuality, family, consumption – everything is affected. This also leads to a “casualisation of society”. People live casually – sneakers have long been socially acceptable, clothing follows the mood rather than the occasion and the same applies to leisure activities. And those who are allowed to be everything need less individuality. Minimalism and on-demand are coming. Less is more, but with higher quality and on-demand. The furnishing style is “Japandi”, which is good-looking and universal. The choice of the means of transport determines the car sharing app, and the tattered jeans now go well with the designer jacket. Thanks to “Vanlife” you can be at home anywhere, even on vacation. But not only leisure or sportswear benefits; Sharing models, subscription platforms and mass customization offers (from furniture customization to unique sneakers) are gaining momentum.

2. Connectivity: Always connected
Whether via WhatsApp, TikTok or Zoom calls in the home office, we are constantly connected to other people via the Internet. This megatrend was reinforced by the corona pandemic, when face-to-face meetings had to be replaced by chats, online computer games (eSports) and video calls. This also affects people’s health. On the one hand, digitization means that they move less because they spend more time in front of the screen or smartphone. But it can also become an opportunity for sport and health, creating new opportunities through wearables, smart devices and digital training communities. In addition, there are increasingly marketable augmented reality and virtual reality offerings that reduce entry barriers, not just for sports.

3. Health: Much more than just not being sick
We’ve never been healthier. We’re living longer and healthier lives, yet people are more concerned about their bodies than ever before. That’s because their understanding of what health means will change. It has long ceased to represent the absence of illness. Rather, health is understood as a synonym for a good, contented life. An important part of this is mindfulness, the conscious awareness and experience of the present moment. The goal is the holistic health of body and soul, which gives strength and life energy. “Healthstyle” is what ISPO calls the desire for balanced physical and mental fitness, which is increasingly becoming part of one’s own lifestyle. The focus is on self-optimization – a healthy mind in an athletic body has become a status symbol that cannot be bought or inherited, only earned. Amidst this, there are also changes in eating habits and foods.

4. Neo-ecology: Sustainability becomes an economic factor
Jute sacks instead of plastic bags, bicycles instead of cars and weekly markets instead of supermarkets. Neo-ecology is considered the most important megatrend of the 2020s. Environmental awareness has long since become mainstream and is also shaking up the definition of luxury. It not only changes social values, our everyday life and politics, but also challenges classic entrepreneurial thinking. Environmental awareness and sustainability are becoming important business drivers. Instead of focusing solely on maximizing profits, companies are increasingly being asked to integrate sustainability, degrowth and public good into their planning. The sports and outdoor industry in particular must resolve the conflict of objectives between experiencing nature and preserving nature. The increasing expectation of better working conditions, raw material-saving materials and low-CO2 infrastructure and logistics affects all sectors. Politics is driving this trend. In March 2020, the European Commission passed the Circular Economy Action Plan (CEAP). It is intended to initiate the transition to a circular economy in Europe. This megatrend is compelling because it is vital for all of us that qualitative growth does not replace quantitative growth too late.

5. Urbanization and mobility: Urban planning meets traffic turnaround
Los Angeles, New York, Paris, Shanghai, Tokyo, Mexico City and Berlin are some of the key cities defined by Adidas that have a significant impact on people’s lifestyles. The key city strategy makes sense because more and more people are living in cities and urbanization is also affecting the countryside. Living space consumption per capita is increasing worldwide. Contrasts between town and country will increasingly dissolve. Life plans that were once urban, such as individuality and pluralism, are now reaching the countryside. Conversely, village structures are also developing in the city, and the neighborhood becomes the center of life. A city worth living in today is defined by access to nature and sport – green and water areas, sports facilities such as basketball courts, running tracks, half-pipes or bouldering halls are becoming meeting places. The city is becoming a sports and cultural playground and a direct consequence of this is the “Urban Outdoor” trend. Smart cities are emerging and contain technology-driven infrastructure solutions: Smart water treatment or cooling green skyscrapers for overheated cities are still small-minded concepts.

The concept of mobility is in the midst of change – “driving pleasure” must be reinvented when autonomous driving becomes reality and the car is just one component among many in the mobility concept of the individual. The “third space” is the moment that is gained during autonomous driving between home and work. Above all, the automotive industry wants to use this driving time to promote mental and physical health. This third room will eventually join “Seamless Mobility”. The seamless transition of different mobility solutions – public transport meets car sharing meets bicycle and more – this is because the mobility revolution is led by the bicycle, above all through its electrification. The bicycle boom will continue. Wide cycle paths with e-bikes, bike-sharing stations and cargo bikes are increasingly shaping the cityscape.

6. Live and Excited: The Thrill of the Unrepeatable
“Collect memories, not money” is a saying that younger generations like to quote on Instagram & Co. Behind this is not only Generation Y and its questioning character, but the increasing value of unique moments in a networked world. More on-demand entertainment offerings and always-on access to information, faster internet and cheaper cloud storage increase the value of unique moments and turn them into very special experiences.

The growing number of film, food and music festivals before the pandemic was already a clear phenomenon for this. In the foreground, however, is the moment of live sports. You can usually follow the path of suffering or success of the athletes over the course of the season, but above all the end result is uncertain until the end. The tension of uncertainty towers over everything. As soon as the result is known, it is already available in all media, so the unique live experience cannot be recreated by “replay”. Missed is missed and meaning is gone.

Not only does sport, its sponsors, betting providers and event organizers with their periphery from gastronomy and hotel industry etc. benefit from this, but above all media platforms that transport the live moment outside of free TV. Thus, the range of sports competitions is getting bigger and more diverse. The growth of e-sports and the Twitch platform is one example among many. And it’s true, the more meaningful a moment, the more likely it is that it will want to be captured. This is where a completely different industry comes into play. It is clear that the importance of the live moment and thus of the event is not only increasing because of the pandemic.