The global sports merchandise market has boomed over the past few years and the trend looks set to continue for the foreseeable future.
The rising number of sports enthusiasts coupled with aggressive marketing tactics are two of the critical factors that are driving significant growth in the sector.
Products such as soccer cleats, jerseys, tracksuits, activewear and many more have become hugely desirable with consumers during the 21st century.
Other factors such as increased investment in sports licensing and rising expenditure capacity in society are projected to drive future growth.
Read on as we take a look at some of the other main elements that play their part in making sports merchandise such a lucrative sector.
Defining Sports Merchandise Characteristics
According to the 2009 book ‘Engineering Textiles’ by Y.E. El Mogahzy, sportswear products require performance characteristics depending on a number of different factors.
These include sport type, the level of physical activity, team or individual sport, professional or amateur sport, indoor or outdoor sport and use frequency.
Most products are characterised by general performance features such as fit, stretch, colour and maintenance (washing and drying).
In the context of product design, key performance characteristics of the products can be divided into four major categories – durability, comfort, functionality and identity or recognition.
Tapping Into Art and Science
Respected enterprise business website SmartSheet.com says that retail merchandising blends together both art and science.
This ethos undoubtedly crosses into the sports sector, with the emphasis on eye-catching visuals playing a part in marketing and the products themselves.
Sports merchandise is often seen as aspirational, giving consumers the feeling that they are in some way closer to athletes and teams by using the same products.
Performance also factors into the equation, with sports merchandise companies selling the idea that you will be more competitive in your chosen activity if you use their items.
Sports Merchandise for Functionality
While visuals contribute massively to how sports merchandise is marketed, the influence of functionality should not be underestimated.
For instance, it is highly likely that you will have seen cyclists on the road or in the gym wearing skin-tight clothing and rather unflattering shorts.
While these products may look ugly, they are designed to be functional and provide users with maximum comfort during their ride.
Their wicking capabilities also help to absorb sweat and are light enough to ensure that the cyclist travels as quickly as possible on the bike.
Barca Star Showcases Art/Science Fusion
Sales of soccer cleats contribute massively to the sports merchandise market, with leading manufacturers such as adidas regularly releasing exciting new creations.
The Germany company has endorsement deals with numerous top players, including Barcelona and Argentina forward Lionel Messi.
He is wearing adidas Nemeziz 19.1 this season and has donned a special edition of these during Barca’s Champions League campaign.
The artistic design fuses Messi’s homeland with Barcelona and incorporates the very latest in scientific boot technology to create a hugely desirable product.
The Culture Aspect of Sports Merchandise
Sports merchandise has become an integral part of the clothing scene over the past few decades, and nowhere is that point more prevalent than in popularity of soccer jerseys in US and around the world.
Known as ‘the people’s game’, soccer is watched by millions of people around the world and the kits are a representation of the tribal nature of the sport.
Soccer jerseys are now a part of popular culture, providing fans with a greater connection to the team they follow throughout the season.
Jersey designs evolve aesthetically over time, while the fabrics used always feature the latest scientific and technological advancements.