McKinsey & Company's 2023 study, "Sporting Goods: The Need for Resilience in a World in Disarray," highlights the challenges faced by the sporting goods industry in a rapidly changing economy — and how vital it is to change with the times.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the sporting goods industry and created new challenges: declining consumer demand, supply chain disruptions, and e-commerce acceleration that leaves tech-averse companies behind. According to data from the NPD Group, sales in sporting goods declined overall in 2022, primarily because 2021 sales far surpassed pre-pandemic levels. Now, to regain momentum, companies must explore a few key trends: rethinking how items are sold, investing in the right tools, and facilitating strong relationships with stakeholders.
One of the ways companies can stay relevant, the study says, is by adopting a multi-channel approach to sales and distribution. Of those polled, 50% of companies say they'll be investing in brand relevance in 2023 to get the attention of new consumers.
Additionally, companies must be able to quickly adapt to changing consumer preferences, given various trends that emerge on social media. This requires having a flexible supply chain that can quickly respond to shifts in demand as well as an agile organizational structure that can pivot to meet new challenges.
Another important trend in the sporting goods industry will be maintaining a robust financial foundation that will allow companies to invest in the future. For this to be achieved, some pre-pandemic sales channels might need to be rethought or restructured. Companies must carefully manage their finances and focus on cost optimization while also investing in growth initiatives. This includes investing in technology, innovation, and sustainability; all consumer priorities in 2023.
Finally, companies must cultivate strong relationships with their customers, suppliers, and other stakeholders. This includes prioritizing transparency and collaboration and proactively addressing challenges and opportunities. Companies that can effectively engage with their stakeholders will be better positioned to weather future disruptions and thrive in an increasingly complex and unpredictable world.