Retailers all smiles following ispo-sponsored visit

The 10 fortunate U.S. retailers invited to Germany this summer by Messe Munich, parent of the ispo winter and summer trade shows held in Munich, Germany, are back. The overall goals of the trip, to allow the retailers an opportunity to see how business is done on the other coast and expose them to European manufacturers, were met and retailers told SNEWS the trip was a huge success.
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The 10 fortunate U.S. retailers invited to Germany this summer by Messe Munich, parent of the ispo winter and summer trade shows held in Munich, Germany, are back. The overall goals of the trip, to allow the retailers an opportunity to see how business is done on the other coast and expose them to European manufacturers, were met and retailers told SNEWS the trip was a huge success.

Retailers included: Don Burch of Quest Outdoor, John Coffaney of Any Mountain, Denny Feldmann of Galyan's Trading Co., Pete Gilmore of EMS, Rachel Ligtenberg of REI, Dave Matz of the retail buying group ROI, John Mead of Adventure 16, Mike Morford of Altrec.com, Mark Singleton of Nantahala Outdoor, and Jeff Smith of Blue Ridge Mountain Sports.

Retailers that SNEWS contacted following the visit told us that the trip was incredibly valuable to them chiefly because, as one retailer summed up, "It breaks your mind out of the same old paradigm."

The following summarizes a few of the key take-aways every retailer we spoke with mentioned:

ispo trade show -- While the retailers wished there was more outdoor product to see at ispo, they also told us that trip organizer Dieter Tremp and the trip sponsors were very up front with them that summer ispo is not an outdoor show -- they'd have to go to Friedrichshafen for that.

Despite the lack of strong outdoor influence, many retailers enjoyed an opportunity to see how companies are positioning themselves. Many retailers were very impressed with how the trade show culture successfully integrates outdoor (to a very small extent) with racquet, skate and surf, and how all those play on the European sporting culture.

The show energy was also highlighted by retailers as a major plus, with the fashion shows put on by professional dancers that drew huge crowds as "especially cool."

Trade show booths also reflected the energy and the style of the consumer element the company was trying to play to. Eastpak for example had a booth made with corrugated metal with graffiti art painted all over the metal surfaces, and a famous graffiti air brush artist on hand to custom airbrush anything show attendees wanted on individual Eastpak daypacks. The music, the art and the style of the booth all screamed YOUTH!!!!

Youth market -- From the trade show floor and booths to several German retailers the American contingent visited with, all were impressed with how well the European market reaches out to the youth and builds demand for the outdoor experience. Merchandising displays are youthful in nature, with vibrant lighting and youth-oriented music. In various places in retail floors, plasma type screens are being used to show images that further support the real vibe.

Integrating fitness -- Says Nantahala Outdoor's Singleton, "I have been hearing this from you (SNEWS) for over a year now, but it really hit home for me the idea of integrating outdoor and fitness and how much sense it makes." Nordic Walking is massive in Europe, and it is beginning to transition over to the United States. While a few retailers remain skeptical that the activity will translate well over here, most felt as if this was a great opportunity to reach into an untapped market.

Adventure 16's Mead told SNEWS that A16 will take what he learned in Europe and start to develop the store's Nordic Walking product mixes with fitness in mind, grouping poles, shoes, socks, clothing and more -- just as they do in Europe with tremendous success.

American Brands in Europe -- Says Quest Outdoor's Burch, "American brands are having great success in Europe. Columbia is already a number two brand in Europe. Eastpak -- WOW. Seven out of 10 kids are wearing an Eastpak and that company is wisely positioning their products to the youth market to the point they are being wildly successful."

SNEWS View: ispo and Tremp are to be commended. They had nothing financially to gain really, but opened their show and hospitality to retailers in the United States to expand thought and offer U.S. retailers a chance to share and to learn that Munich is a fantastic destination for an international visitor to come to. Rumors are that discussions are underway between the ispo contingent and the Friedrichshafen organizers to possibly move the Friedrichshafen to Munich. We shall see and will keep you posted. Tremp informs SNEWS that more such retailer visits to Germany are in the works.

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