Corona and no end in sight – managing the new normal
Everybody is sick and tired of it but nobody can avoid it. Of course, we are referring to the Corona crisis which has had a firm grip on us since the first lockdown in mid-March, if not before. And this has had consequences – for each individual, for economy and retail, for society as a whole but, of course, also for the entire sport and fitness industry.
In 2021 fitness club owners, physiotherapists and the like are challenged with managing the “new normal” and this is easier said than done. During these special times fresh impulses as well as market insights and consumer testimonials are becoming invaluable. They are the only way to also stay close to what’s happening and drive one’s business in times of isolation and social distancing. For this reason, we – the ECC KÖLN – have again compiled and summarised the five most important retail trends, developments and learnings from the year 2020.
Trend 1: Corona pushes e-commerce
2020 went down in history as a record year for e-commerce. Posting growth rates between 15% and 26%, e-commerce volume will end up somewhere between EUR 80 and EUR 88 billion – a clear leap in growth. This means the crisis has propelled online retail ahead by two to three years. The forecast for e-commerce in 2024 (incl. FMCG) amounts to approx. EUR 120 billion in this trend scenario – even EUR 141 billion can be reached if growth speeds up – as shown by latest data from our “Branchenreport Onlinehandel”. It will therefore become as important as ever to have a web presence in future so as not to lose touch with one’s shoppers
Profiteers of the Corona crisis included those well-known market top dogs such as Amazon, eBay and the like which were highly frequented by online newbies, in particular. Not even online marketplaces from the Fast East have managed to alter this scenario for the time being. The emphasis here lies on “for the time being”, however. Wish, AliExpress and Co. are on the advance and will continue growing giving them a foot in the door of the German market.
Trend 3: Innovative technologies continue to conquer the market
Digitalisation has taken a leap forward of some five years thanks to Corona. This can also be felt in terms of digital technologies. Consumers have become considerably more interested in, and open to new technologies. BUT: customer response to new technologies varies depending on the type of shopper, e.g. younger vs older. Therefore, the be all and end all is to customise the technology message for shoppers of all ages and to clearly communicate to them the benefits and value added of this new technology.
Trend 4: Smart Data is gaining increasing importance as a success factor
Customer data have become one of the biggest assets in the corporate world. They help us, above all, to better understand our shoppers and their needs. However, getting hold of customer data is often easier said than done because, as a rule, consumers dislike disclosing their data and are often sceptical of unknown companies. Only those perceiving considerable added value in exchange for their data, such as individual advice, personalised offers and advertising, are more open to the whole topic.
Trend 5: Not even Corona can change the sustainability trend
Sustainability has left a strong mark on consumers and their buying behaviour over the past few years. This trend was pushed even further by Corona. An awareness of sustainable and healthy lifestyles will be anchored even further in the heads of consumers, also looking to 2021. Companies will have to react accordingly because sustainability is and will remain a red hot topic.
Our summary for 2020 is that the crisis has set many things in motion. Corona threw a spanner into the works of the growth trend on the sport and fitness market in 2020, with the exception of home-sport articles. This market has managed to post rising demand over the past few months since the outbreak of the pandemic. Considering the industry as a whole, things do not look that bright, however – like in almost all sectors of retail currently: While in 2019 German sales of fitness and sport articles totalled EUR 7.6 billion, we expect this figure to be lower in 2020.
So what should we do to “manage the new normal”? First of all, we should definitely address the theme of customer focus. Who are my customers? How do they react? What do my customers want? Which barriers and challenges do my customers face? These guiding questions must be answered in a valid and target-group oriented way. Then we can consider ourselves on the right track.