German sports market: Coolhunting (not sports) drives growth

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Adidas Originals

Germany’s sports goods market is continuing to grow with a 3% rise last year to €13.4bn. So what drove that growth? Well, women were a big part of it. But it seems they’re not really buying ‘sports’ clothes and shoes for doing pesky things like – err, sports.

Adult women accounted for 39% of the combined sportswear and sports shoe market and were behind most of its growth (69%), according to NPD Group. But only a quarter of that growth came from women actually taking part in sports or physical exercise a paltry once a week.

So does that mean we’re all embracing the athleisure look but not the lifestyle? It certainly looks that way with NPD saying most purchases are for leisure use rather than sports.

So what other major insights does NPD’s new report give us?

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Fancy footwork

It seems Germans don’t mind paying high prices for their sports shoes. The footwear market saw impressive 6% growth last year and with German consumers attaching major importance to product quality and technical features, it means the average selling price in the German sports shoe market is €59, around 40% higher than that of other major Western European markets.

And what kind of sport shoes are Germans buying? Running shoes are still big news but growth is weakening with skate shoes accounting for the biggest chunk of sales and also being the fastest growing sub-category. That’s perhaps another sign of sports fashion being used for leisure rather than sports with skate shoes having been a key fashion story for several years now. NPD is also expecting more growth from the technically advanced knitted sports shoe sub-category.

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White is the new black

Black is the dominant colour in the sports shoe market in Germany with a 25% share of sales and white hit a five-year low last year. But white is making a comeback for 2016, driven by Adidas with its Superstar and Stan Smith shoes. Blue is also a key colour but while it’s close to a five-year high, NPD thinks it’s near saturation point.

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