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Tips for retailers

August 2002

Archery - an alternative stock option that works

Archery is a niche market ideally suited to the independent retailer who wishes to attract new customers – provided he is willing to make a total commitment

The ancient sport of archery is proving to be very lucrative for some very modern retailers. It is a niche market with excellent prospects for the dealer who is willing to make a financial and resource commitment.

The reason is that archery appeals to young and old, male and female. It has formed part of youth training programmes — Boy Scouts can earn a badge with archery — and numerous schools in KwaZulu/Natal and Gauteng offer it as a sport. It is also a popular aspect of many company teambuilding exercises. Archery is a wonderful and all-inclusive family sport.

And interest in the sport seems to be contagious — as retailers in the Limpopo Province found when they arranged informal shoots to show friends and neighbours how much fun they can have with bow and arrow. Soon the word and interest spread and they now have regular weekly indoor club meetings and even have inter-town tournaments!

“Just watch what happens if you display a bow in your window — you’ll soon attract a potential customer, says Stan Gordon of the Cutlery Distributing Group (CDG). “If you can get one guy interested, he will have five friends that will soon want to join in. And they all have families who will become interested. Very few kids can resist the idea of shooting with bows and arrows.”

Since Barry Gordon started CDG’s dedicated archery division about a year ago, they have seen exceptional progress in the number of dealers who are doing well from archery sales. CDG is the exclusive SA agent for PSE (Precision Shooting Equipment), the largest bow manufacturer in the world. They offer a broad selection of merchandise, catering for kids from 10 to 11 up to bow hunting enthusiasts. They also stock the full range of Barnett Crossbows.

While there is undeniable local interest in archery, exact participation numbers are difficult to come by because most participants are not registered with one of the official bodies. South Africa is, for instance, a popular destination for international bow hunters, who consider the sport more echo-friendly than rifle hunting, and often buy equipment locally.

There are several archery clubs in all the major cities — at least six are registered in Johannesburg — but clubs are also rapidly starting in smaller towns. Sasolburg, for instance, has three registered archery clubs.

South Africa recently hosted the World 3D Bow Hunting Championship (shooting at three-dimensional animal targets made of a special self-healing ethafoam) at Hartbeestpoort Dam where 230 participants from several countries, including France, Italy, England, Austria and Switzerland, competed.

The growth of the magazine, SA Bow Hunter, is also a good indication of a rapidly growing archery market as more and more retailers advertise in there. There is even an indoor shooting league run by mail — because indoor shooting conditions are so perfectly controlled, competitors simply send their scores per mail.

Archery has such wide appeal because there are so many different aspects to the sport, explains (Stan) Gordon. The top of the range bow hunting is a very popular and fast growing sport amongst adult men, but schools usually compete against each other with recurve bows. After the entry level recurve bow, the next step is the compound bow. Crossbows are also good sellers.

Because the needs of archers are so diverse, CDG offers a dealer training programme to retailers who wish to carry stock. “If you want to become an archery dealer, you have to set aside one to three days of your time to learn what is required when servicing clients. Although CDG sets up the bows before supplying them to the dealer — it takes about 1 to 2 hours per bow — Gordon believes that it is important that the dealer gains hands-on knowledge about what is involved. “The ideal is that he should become proficient in setting up his own bows so that we only supply him with accessories.”

Apart from offering a minimum of three pre-arranged training programmes a year in different parts of the country, CDG will train dealers committed to stocking their brands archery on an individual basis.

CDG also carries a broad range of accessories and spare parts for their brands, so that there is always replacement parts available should a dealer require them. They also offer a service back-up system. In the past, the lack of replacement and spare parts or repair services discouraged many dealers from stocking archery equipment, because they had no back-up when customers returned bows. “The spare parts and accessories we carry was a major investment, but it has proven to be successful,“ says Gordon.

“We have had an excellent relationship of more than 27 years with Precision Shooting Equipment (PSE), the world’s biggest bow manufacturer, and are therefore in a position to support our dealers all the way with a full warranty.“

How to make archery work for you

This is one market that one could only make a success of if there is total commitment in the form of at least one staff member becoming an archery expert, says Stan Gordon of CDG.

While archery is not necessarily a stock option for all dealers, Gordon believes that the dealer willing to make a commitment, is passionate about making a success, and is willing to gain knowledge, will make money – and that is equally true for the general sports dealer as the arms dealer.

CDG will therefore ensure some exclusivity to dealers who do make the commitment.

He suggests the following:

  • It is extremely important to have the correct merchandise available. A dealer should start by stocking 5-6 different bows, equipped with full accessories spread over the full range – from kiddies bow sets, entry level recurve and compound, to medium level compound bows. He believes that the buyers of the top end hunting ranges will be happy to select from a catalogue, that should be kept on hand. This basic range will cost the dealer about R20 000-25 000.

  • Gordon does not believe in over-stocking. “I would prefer that the dealer phones me five times a month to order stock, instead of sitting with stock that does not move.” CDG has a 8-hour live assistance line where dealers can obtain immediate assistance. They are even prepared to speak to an uncertain client if it will help close a sale.

  • Dealers should also get involved in the sport, suggests Gordon. Retailers who became involved by promoting interest in the sport, soon reaped the benefits of a growing customer base.

  • February 2005

    Are YOUR customers happy?

    In this issue we featured our Supplier of the Year and the four finalist companies. They were nominated by retailers who were happy with the service they received. In other words, by happy customers. But how will the rest of the industry know if they are keeping their customers happy? A worldwide research study gives guidelines

    Every entrepreneur knows that happy customers are essential to keeping a business afloat. But, while one can safely assume that the customer slamming the door with the words "you’ll never see me again" is NOT a happy customer, it is less easy to predict which of your other customers will recommend you to all their friends – and why.

    Customer management and customer commitment can not be measured in terms of profits or losses — until it is too late and the business goes bust because too many customers defected to the opposition.

    How does a company therefore measure how happy their customers are?

    In a report, State of the Nation IV:2005, compiled after one of the largest worldwide studies ever done in this field, Reap Consulting (business consultants also represented in SA) and QCi Assessment, examine the factors that correlate competent customer management and business performance.

    But do they love you?

    Customers who don’t like a brand won’t buy their products, even if they are cheap. A customer’s commitment to a company or brand depends almost entirely on how a customer emotionally relates to it. Successful brands have made their customers feel good, by doing the following:

  • Delivering the basics consistently across all touch points in line with customer expectations (accurate statements, meeting promises etc);

  • Resolving problems/queries positively on first contact;

  • Making a personal connection at the point of contact;

  • Delighting customers with low cost factors e.g. gas company employees removing shoes when entering a home;

  • Delivering a distinct experience that is unmistakably from that brand;

  • Delighting through ‘random acts of kindness or fun’;

  • Involving customers in the category and making them care;

  • Leading the industry and re-inventing the service delivery model;

  • Having committed staff who care and are aligned to the organisation’s objectives, purpose and brand values.

  • Points not guesses

    There are several models to measure competent customer management. For instance, The CMAT™ Model breaks customer management down into a number of elements and measures a company’s performance in each area according to a point system. They need to:

  • Develop and deliver a proposition (from the ‘brand experience’ to the direct ‘personal experience’);

  • Develop the infrastructure to deliver the proposition (e.g. policy, people, process, data and IT);

  • Actually deliver it (customer management activity — acquisition, retention, penetration and cost of customer management);

  • Measure from an internal and external (customer) perspective.

  • The result is a score which reflects the reality of the way the company actually manages customers, not the result of an assessment questionnaire that could be misleading. "Senior managers often overestimate how good they are at managing customers," the research team found.

    It is difficult to predict which aspects of customer management are most important. For instance, how much value do you attach to customer satisfaction questionnaires? Over 90% of companies surveyed collect customer feedback and measure customer satisfaction. However, the data is often misleading, as most models do not, for instance, predict repeat purchase or loyalty.

    Many companies also use customer satisfaction data as a senior management hygiene measure, lumping all figures together to get an overall satisfaction index to make management look good. This does not reflect problem areas or valuable detailed feedback that customers provided. It is not only meaningless, but a wasted opportunity to improve service.

    The opinions of the most valued customers should also be weighted — typically, the top 10% of customers will be responsible for around 50% of profit. Their opinion will be different from the other 90% and should count more. They have more interactions with the company and more experience in dealing with staff.

    Research showed that 63% of companies do not know how many high value customers they lose.

    Most companies will say that the customer’s experience is important to them, but they rarely place the cost of customer management before the costs or financial returns.

    Their attitude is often: "We will encourage customers to call the contact centre (usually a cost reason for this anyway), then we will reduce the cost to ourselves by putting them on to an operator who is trained to ‘smile’ — whatever the customer’s reason for calling."

    The fact that the call to the customer center could lead to even more frustration and dissatisfaction, is never recorded — especially not if customer feedback forms merely ask customers to indicate if a particular service was provided, without an option to indicate how they felt about the service.

    This is why companies are confounded when faced with facts that 65–85% of the people who defected from their company or brand, had indicated that they were satisfied or very satisfied with their former supplier.

    It can be very valuable to canvas a customer’s opinion just after they have had some sort of interaction or experience with a firm. Ask follow-up questions such as: "Mr Smith, I understand the recent complaint you had has been sorted out now — is that correct? How did you find the complaints process? Did we handle it well?

    Happy employees

    It is equally important to give staff feedback on the customer experiences – but research shows that only 50% of companies do that.

    Employee satisfaction is an area that probably has the most impact on profits. Research results show that better performance occurred if:

  • A company has taken the trouble to encourage employee behaviour according to brand values;

  • It has used employees in the process of the development of appropriate behaviours;

  • It understands key interactions or customer moments of truth — when the customer is emotionally involved, for instance, during complaints;

  • Employees are satisfied at work, and feel their views are being listened to;

  • The employee can describe why a customer should buy from the company.
  • Developing staff competencies is crucial because it will improve the experience when a customer faces staff. Yet, staff that can influence the customer’s experience of the company are recruited and managed to perform certain job-related skills… rather than improving competency in doing it.

    "If competency is defined as a combination of knowledge, attitude and skill, then all three are needed to manage customer interaction," the report states. "There is no point in employing someone who has the skill to work an order entry system if: their attitude to doing it is all wrong (e.g. poor attitude resulting in slow, inaccurate data entry, treating the customer poorly) and they do not know why the customer wants the product."

    October / November 2008

    Avoid tripping over clever customer questions

    We asked a few experienced hockey stick marketers and distributors to step into a retailers’ shoes and to respond to the questions a retailer could be asked to field from a customer

    They are the consumers that most salespeople dread: they think they know all about sports equipment, because they’ve read about it on the internet, and now they want to show how clever they are by tripping you up with their questions.

    How would you respond to such a show-off?

    We asked the experts — the experienced and knowledgeable distributors of top international brands, and for good measure, the suppliers of two South African brands — how they would have responded had they been standing on the shop floor. From their answers it is clear that there is not only one correct answer to these questions. We asked:

  • Dita — Kevin de Wet of De Wet Sports

  • Grays — Lindsey Wright of Leisure Holdings

  • Gryphon — Shane Schonegevel of OBO SA

  • Kookaburra — Chris Bryant of JRT Crampton

  • Malik — Peter Wright of K&T Sports

  • Slazenger — Barry Touzel of Dunslaz Distributors

  • TK — Rassie Pieterse of Sportsnet Holdings

  • Local brands:
  • Stormforce — Jaco Kirsten of Orbit Sports

  • W.E.T. — Andrew Wentzel of W.E.T. Sports Importers

  • Below are the responses they would have given had they been standing on the shop floor:

    How does the shape/bow of the stick help or affect my play?

    Dita: As a general rule the greater degree of bow a stick has, the higher the speed that can be achieved from a drag-flick stroke. The official limit of curvature has been set at 25mm. This is to ensure that hitting control is maintained. The curvature of the stick influences the angle at which the head strikes through the ball. A greater curved stick increases the angle at which the head makes contact with the ball, which in turn causes the ball to be lifted more easily during a normal stroke. A stick with less curvature makes it easier to control the ball.

    Grays: The shape/bow of a stick is really a personal preference, depending on the players’ style of play and the skills he or she will need on the hockey field. A straight bow will suit a player that probably likes to hit the ball a lot, with plenty of accuracy, while the more bowed shapes will suit players who want to use various skills to move the ball in and around the opposition.

    Obviously, the more bowed sticks are renowned for the sling shot you can generate at short corners, however, I have seen many successful young men drag flick with less bowed sticks — and still be extremely accurate and successful.

    While most sticks on the market have a standard bow throughout their range, Grays provides several different bows to suit a varied players market.

    Gryphon: A big curve in the shaft of the stick assists skillful players who use the correct technique when drag flicking or throwing overheads. These players also prefer the curve to be lower in the shaft of the stick (as with our Pro models). There is, however, a trade-off as the bigger the curve and the lower the curve in the shaft, the more difficult it is to hit the ball. Thus, sticks with bigger curves are better suited to players who have the skill level to cope with the the big curve and the technique to benefit from it.

    The sticks with the low curve low in the shaft (our Pro models) are best suited for specialist short corner drag flickers.

    The average player is best suited to use a more moderate curve (around 20mm ) which provides a good balance between flicking, hitting and overall control.

    Kookaburra: The Low Bow design in Kookaburra sticks place the optimum point of the bow in the ideal position to enhance the slingshot action required by the game’s top drag flick specialists.

    The M-Bow offers a more conventional location for the bow, as it places the optimum point in the mid section of the shaft, enhancing ball control, sweep hitting and drag flicking techniques, while also assisting the full blooded strike.

    Malik: The bow in the stick assists with various skills needed in the game of hockey. The Malik sticks are produced in three moulds:

    The Low Curve is our straightest stick with a bend of 20mm — ideal for beginners as there is not too much of a curve to effect the hitting and stopping skills.

    The Full Curve: in this mould the curve is gradual over the length of the stick, measuring 24mm, ideal for players preferring to hit the ball, slap, or push the ball without extra fuss.

    The Dribble Curve is our flagship mould, pushing the limits with a 25mm bow, which is very pronounced at the bottom of the stick. It is ideal for the drag flickers and players who enjoy using their 3D hockey skills. The extra curve at the bottom of the stick gives the players extra whip action, allowing the ball to travel faster.

    I would like to emphasise that choosing a stick is a personal preference and the individual player must be happy with the stick he or she chooses. I would recommend that you dribble with the stick and a ball before you purchase, so that you are happy with the curve and length of the stick.

    Slazenger: The bow of the stick has come about due to most of the hockey now being played on astroturf , which is a diferent game to a few years ago (when it was still played on grass). Instead of hitting the ball, most of the passing now happens by means of drags or pushes, and the bowed shape of the stick greatly improves the control of these types of shots.

    With the bowed shape, the player’s hands remain in front of the ball through these drag type of shots, adding control and enhanced power.

    Stormforce agrees that the bow is very much an individual choice. The bow does affect the feel of the stick when receiving passes under pressure. In the modern game slapping has become an important skill and the bow assists in providing greater pace on a pass.

    The biggest impact that the bow would have is in assisting players who drag flick at goal. The bow allows the player to pick the ball up and sling it at goal. The deeper the bow, the greater power and control.

    TK: The new TK Latebow is one of our top sellers. As the game is rapidly advancing, a lot of new skills need to be added in your armoury as a player. The bow sticks assist with throwing aerial balls (overheads), which becomes crucial for short corner specialists and for drag flicking at short corners. The TK Latebow stick is also ideal for little dink and popping skills over the defender’s stick.

    How does the strength of the stick affect the price?

    Dita: With composite stick technology manufacturers add different materials to increase the stick’s durability or strength, which will cost more than regular wood.

    Grays: All sticks in the Grays range are made up of several varied composites e.g. fibreglass, carbon, graphite, aramid, etc. Due to these composites adding greater strength to the stick, it will affect the price. Carbon is the most valued component in a stick and that is why it will be more expensive than a stick that has more fibreglass.

    Gryphon: This depends on what is meant by strength. If by strength one is talking about durability, the price is not the over- riding factor. A well made mid-range hockey stick can be at least as durable as a top end stick. When buying up in the range you are primarily buying performance.

    The biggest performance feature that distinguishes entry level, mid range and top end sticks, is the power that the stick can generate when hitting and slapping the ball, which is related to the stick’s shaft stiffness.

    As the materials used to stiffen the shaft generally give the stick a harder feel, the art of making a good top end stick is to make it as powerful as possible (stiff shaft) but still produce a feel or touch that is suited to the player’s personal style and preference. All of this must be achieved while still maintaining the sticks durability.

    Malik: The more carbon and kevlar you use in the stick, the higher the price. Carbon and kevlar also adds to the strength and rigidity to the stick. Fibreglass is the main component that adds to the feel of the stick. Sticks with more fibreglass are therefore cheaper, but this does not deter from the quality of the stick.

    Slazenger: Unfortunately, the more you strengthen the stick, the more expensive it becomes. Most of the strengthening agents used are expensive. The only reasonably inexpensive agent used in composite sticks is fibreglass. Other agents used include carbon, kevlar, carbon cloth and Slazengers’ new nano technology, which increases the quality of the stick during production, making it tougher and more consistent.

    Not only do the strengthening agents used increase the price, but also their application, i.e. the way they are used in manufacture.

    A very general rule is the stiffer a stick, (thus more strengthening agents used) the more expensive it becomes.

    Stormforce: In order to create sticks of greater rigidity and maintain the weight and balance of the stick, special materials are used, which impacts on the price. As a general rule, the greater the rigidity, the greater the price. One will find that most top level players use sticks with greater rigidity.

    TK: To get the stick stronger and more powerful, the correct fibres must be added — carbon fibre, aramid, and unique to TK, the new zylon fibre that is added to the head of the stick. Zylon is 2½ times stronger than kevlar — and without a doubt, you will feel the difference in the power of the stick.

    These new fibres and new technologies are more expensive, and therefore affects the price in the end. The more of these special fibres you add, the more the stick is going to cost.

    W.E.T.: In general you would find that a composite stick made of kevlar and graphite would be the strongest, though certain players feel that the composite stick does not have as good a feel as a wooden stick that has been given a protective covering. A standard wooden stick will not be as strong as a wooden stick which has a carbon kevlar cover. The more materials used (carbon, fibreglass, graphite) the higher the price.

    What difference does the composition of the stick — wood, fibreglass, graphite and kevlar — make to the way I’ll play?

    Dita: Wood is usually used for beginners’ sticks as it has a softer feel, but less power. It gives the player more control and is more forgiving. Fibreglass is a basic reinforcement that prevents wear and increases strength and durability. Graphite (or carbon) is one of the most effective stiffening materials. The added stiffness in the handle allows for increased hitting power for experienced players. Kevlar adds strength to the handle, while dampening the vibration to the hands. The more kevlar in the stick, the less shock is felt, yet the fibres still allow for flexibility and a smooth feel of the ball when hitting and receiving.

    Grays: As mentioned, the more carbon you have in a stick, the better the quality and the stronger the play. The top end Grays sticks, used by most of our international players, are almost 100% carbon throughout.

    We also import a selected quality wooden stick to suit the player that still likes conventional equipment. As the stick range starts to lower towards the younger ages, the composites start to vary towards more fibreglass, and then a low cost wood.

    This is not to say that fibreglass or wooden sticks are not worth playing with, as these will suit various players. Again, the Grays’ 2009 Range will supply a range of these sticks to suit the players market.

    Gryphon: Different fibres give the sticks different characteristics. Carbon, for example, has a superb tensile strength to weight ratio, and is excellent for stiffening the shaft of the stick in order to make the stick more powerful when hitting the ball.

    Fibres such as kevlar and fibreglass are more pliable and therefore serve to soften the feel of the stick (making the stick more forgiving) and improve the stick’s durability. Gryphon’s Tour stick comes with a unique silicon sleeve technology that further serves to improve the feel.

    The playing characteristics of the stick not only depends on the ratio of these materials used, but also, just as importantly, on how and where these materials are combined in the stick (the sticks lay-up), the quality of the materials used, and the manufacturing process used in the mould. The percentages of the various materials used are therefore of little, or no, value, as the standards against which they are measured vary and the stick’s playing characteristics are also dependant on a number of other factors.

    Wood provides a very soft feel, but reduces shaft stiffness to such an extent that is nowadays just used as a material for entry level sticks, as it is cheaper to make.

    Kookaburra: Graphite provides rigidity, response, strength and power. Kevlar provides shock absorbency, strength and control. Fibreglass offers basic strength, durability and feel. Wood sticks traditionally offer excellent feel but lack the power potential of a composite stick.

    Malik: The traditional wooden sticks have generally more feel, but will not be as rigid as a composite. The different mixtures of composite materials allow the sticks to be a lot stiffer, as well as giving added hitting power, but at the expense of your feel on the stick. The more graphite in the stick, the more rigid, and the more fibreglass, the more flexible your stick will be.

    Slazenger: Composite sticks are moulded, thus, any composition can be used, which will affect the weight, balance, etc. of the sticks. Varying types of strenghtening agents are used, which affect the stiffness and durability, thus directly impacting on the playability of the stick.

    In construction of the composite stick varying amounts of stiffening can be added, thus making each type of stick different in stiffness and weight, thus also giving it unique playabile characteristics.

    Stormforce: The composition of the stick impacts on the weight, balance and feel of the stick. Wood has traditionally had the better feel, but is not able to provide the greater rigidity, and therefore hitting power, of the composite materials. As technology has improved the new composite sticks provide the hitting power with a wood-like feel. I believe over time wood sticks will be phased out.

    TK: Graphite sticks will be more powerful than wooden and fibreglass sticks. There is still a handful of players who prefer a wooden stick, because they have better feel on the ball. What this means is that when they stop or handle the ball, the ball does not jump off the stick because there is less power in the head. Wooden sticks are ideal for junior kids.

    Why should I use a 36.5” stick instead of a 38” stick?

    Dita: It is essential that a player chooses the correct length of stick. There are two generally accepted methods for choosing the correct length.

    The first method is called the Dutch Sizing Method: the player holds the stick with its head in the air, upside down. The head of the stick is inserted in the armpit, and the stick ends somewhere near the knee. The key to proper fit depends on where the end of the handle is in relation to the knee. It should be between the middle of the kneecap, to no more than one inch below the knee cap. The hockey player selects a stick that stretches from the armpit to approximately the middle of the kneecap. It should not be longer than 1cm past the bottom of the kneecap.

    In the second method, the hockey stick length is relative to the height of the hockey player. In choosing a stick, a player should select the longest stick that he/she can control comfortably. A more skilled player can handle a longer stick. Goalies prefer a shorter and lighter stick.

    Two problems will become immediately noticeable if the stick is too long: this type of stick may cause undercutting of the ball with frequent raised balls. Another problem is excessive hard contact with the playing surface that fractures the head of the stick.

    Grays: Again, this can be personal preference, some strikers like to use 36.5” sticks because they are constantly in a low position and need to get a quick shot off at the goal, so they don’t need the extra inches extended to a stick. Most defenders like to use a 37.5” or 38” (limited) stick to give them that extra length to make that all important tackle. However, young players must be measured for a stick appropriately first before deciding on these factors.

    Gryphon: The length of stick at senior level is primarily dependant on a player’s personal preference, which in turn is influenced by factors such as the player’s height, style of play, etc. In most cases the players either use 36.5” sticks (which tend to me more popular amongst girls) or 37.5“ stick sticks (which tend to be more popular amongst guys). On the odd occasion a tall player may opt for a 38.5” stick, but these are a very small minority. Using a stick that is too big can negatively impact on your ability to perform close in skills.

    Kookaburra: Selecting the size of your hockey stick basically comes down to personal preference. For every player who prefers a short, light hockey stick there will be a player who prefers a longer, heavier hockey stick.

    Malik: We would recommend that all school players use the standard 36.5” stick, as it allows for maximum control, as well as the correct body position during the game. Malik are the only manufacturers who produce a 38” stick, and the extra 1.5” does make a difference when tackling, as it gives you a better reach and you cover a larger area.

    The 38” stick is aimed at the older players who can afford to be a bit lazier with regard to the correct body position and movement of their feet while playing.

    Slazenger: With most hockey now being played on astroturf, players have a tendency to use a slightly longer stick, as the surface is so true.

    Simply put, the player now has the comfort of being able to trust the surface, and thus can afford himself the extra reach/space the longer sticks gives him, which is advantageous in general play, dribbling, interception etc.

    Stormforce: Stick length again is very much a personal choice (people come in varying heights) and it is important that the individual player is comfortable with what he is playing with. If the stick is too long or too short it can effect your hitting and dribbling. The customer should try various sticks to find the length that suits his playing style.

    TK: If you look at the Pakistani or Indian men’s teams, you will see most of their players all play with 36.5” sticks. It is what you, as a player, are more comfortable with, but I will recommend a player of 6’5” to play with a longer stick.

    W.E.T.: The size of the stick is dependant on how comfortable the stick is for the individual player — the 36.5” is the standard for a senior stick, but if you are taller and need a longer stick, a 37 or 38” would be suitable.

    What difference does the shape of the toe (head) make?

    Dita: There are a number of different toe/ head shapes available on the market. The head shape used depends on a number of factors, of which personal preference is probably the most important. The most common head shapes are:

    Shorti: Usually used by attacking players. It helps the player to quickly turn the stick over the ball, as it is designed for a balance of maneuverability and control.

    Midi: The most popular and appropriate shape for beginners and midfield players, it is about 1cm longer than the shorti and provides a larger hitting surface, which in turn makes flicking, receiving and reverse play more comfortable.

    Maxi: Popular with defensive players, it combines a larger receiving area with the hitting power of a midi.

    Hook: A J-shaped head with a larger stopping surface area for receiving and defensive work, it is particularly handy on grass surfaces.

    Grays: Once again, it will depend on a player’s preference, but most of the heads on hockey sticks are pretty standard — maxi- shaped. Over the years, the toe of the stick has become smaller and smaller to allow the player more flexibility in maneuvering the head of the stick over the ball to allow for maximum stick speed, which will enhance the skills required to beat an opponent. When hitting a ball, only a very small area on the toe makes contact with the ball, hence the continual development of the smaller head.

    Gray’s still has the hook in the junior range, which is U-shaped. At a young age, it is a nice touch because juniors are stil coming to grips with their newly learnt skills and this extra part to the toe allows for more control over the ball.

    Gryphon: Most players these days opt for a standard midi head shape, which is pretty similar for most brands. Some of Gryphon’s top end sticks come with a thinner shaped toe to assist with flicking and dinking the ball for one on one aerial skills.

    Malik: All Malik sticks come with the J-turn head, which has been developed to assist with reverse side still, which enables the player to have the desired amount of control on the ball and gives the player a bigger hitting surface on the stick.

    Kookaburra: Most sticks on the market have adopted the maxi head shape. This shape provides a combination of the qualities provided by hook and midi heads — enhanced ball control and flicking, whilst providing a concentrated optimum power spot hitting.

    Slazenger: Most brands now use a midi size headshape. This again is a result of the astroturf surface, which allows the players the added compactness of the headsize for ease of dribbling and control of the stick.

    The big shape head is no longer needed for control, as the surface is true, thus allowing the smaller headshape. Also remember that the game is now more about slapping, pushing and dragging than hitting, as in the past. When hitting one uses the head of the stick, whereas one uses the shaft as much as the head to execute slapping, pushing and dragging shots.

    Stormforce: The shape of the toe of the stick effects your receiving, passing and dribbling ability. Depending on the body position in which a person hits, dribbles and receiving passes will determine which shape to use.

    Why should I choose to play with this particular brand?

    Dita is a Dutch brand that ranks among the top hockey brands worldwide, with a respected following among many top European players. We stock a wide variety of sticks that are suited to every level of play — from beginners to international stars. The fresh cosmetics and affordable prices make these sticks appealing to everybody who wants to play hockey.

    The pleasure of playing with Dita sticks is derived from their extreme control and light feel. These qualities are because of the twin channel construction and ideal balance points.

    All of our composite sticks feature a roughened head surface that increases the grip on the ball while dribbling and receiving. The top-of-the-range EXA 500 also features grooves in the head, which discharges water for more accuracy and hitting power.

    Dita has a proven track record of supplying international quality sticks at very competitive prices. The high level of after-sales service can give the buyer confidence in the product.

    Grays: As I have mentioned before, Grays provides a range of sticks and other hockey equipment to suit all types of players. It has been one of the most recognised hockey brands in history, and the manufacturers’ continuous experiments to make the sticks more dynamic and player-friendly, has earned the brand a top position in world hockey.

    At the Beijing Olympics, Grays was by far the stick used by most players. Nearly 40% of all the Olympic hockey players used our brand — which gives Grays the right to claim that it is the leading brand that international hockey players want to use. The next brand was chosen by only 12% players.

    We will continue to work diligently on building our brand in order to push the boundaries of our sport across the hockey world.

    Gryphon: The various Gryphon stick models are all the most powerful in their class, and also deliver superb touch and feel, which is tailored differently in each model in order to provide every player with an option that best suits their game. The sticks are also extremely durable.

    This is all achieved by utlising top quality materials and superior lay-ups and manufacturing processes, built up over years of experience, while leading the way for synthetic stick molding.

    Added to this is the drool factor in the cosmetic look of the sticks. Gryphon is also known for one of the most comprehensive sponsorship programmes amongst international players and school coaches.

    Kookaburra: By combining innovative concepts and stylish eye catching graphics, the new Kookaburra hockey stick range is our most dynamic and comprehensive to date. The result is a series that is perfect for all hockey players, from internationals through to beginners.

    Malik: Firstly, as a player, you need to be happy with the stick you are going to purchase and it must meet your requirements. Whatever the brand, you need to feel comfortable that the stick will deliver on the field. Malik offers you a stick that is affordable, modern and technically up to date.

    Our factory in Sialkot is one of the largest hockey stick factories in the world and has been manufacturing hockey sticks for over 40 years. They employ more than 150 staff members who make around 500 hockey sticks per day to strict quality guidelines. Malik have been at the forefront of design and innovation and this is demonstrated by the following examples:

  • In 1993, Malik developed the first hockey stick to incorporate a longer grip;

  • In 1997, Malik developed the first ever combined stick and kit bag — The Jumbo;

  • In 2002, Malik, in conjunction with Sohail Abbas, developed the first specialist drag flick stick.

  • At the recent Beijing Olympic games we were the 3rd ranked brand and had players in both gold medal teams. In the SA team Austin Smith, Emile Smith and Clyde Abrahams played with Malik. And those watching the babes, would have noticed that triple holder of the title World Hockey Player of the Year, Luciana Aymar of Argentina plays with Malik.

    In SA we strive to be a brand that is run by hockey lovers and we endeavour to deliver a product that will satisfy all your hockey needs — go on, flick your next corner with a Malik.

    Slazenger: From the the most affordable entry level wooden stick for the beginner player, through the intermediate composite range of sticks for the school and junior club player, to the top range of sticks for elite players, Slazenger endeavours to offer the very best and latest technology, combined with affordabilty, to give each player the very best stick for their particular level of play.

    Using all the experience they have gained through many years of producing quality sporting goods for a variety of sports, Slazenger will always offer the consumer great value for money.

    Because of this experience, the consumer can feel certain that they are purchasing a quality stick, backed by one of the world’s oldest quality sporting brands.

    Stormforce: I think my brand provides sticks to the client with all the attributes that other brands offer, but at extremely competitive prices. I can therefore offer the client great value, along with a wide variety of options, so that he/she will find the best fit.

    TK: The 2008 and 2009 collection has shown that it is the best and the strongest collection from TK ever. The zylon technology that is used in the sticks make the sticks stronger and more powerfull, and is unique to TK.

    TK has taken the game to another level. There is so much heritage in the brand and plenty of personal touches, as the owner and founder of TK is Thomas Kille, a former German player from the 1970’s. He not only ensures that his own ideas and innovations are used in the product development, but always invites top current international players to sit in and help to improve the designs.

    TK is one of the top brands in Europe and is also affiliated to the FIH world hockey board.

    W.E.T: The W.E.T. hockey range is a great buy for the customer looking for an entry level stick for both junior and senior players, that offers good quality and affordable prices. We have an extensive junior range (28”, 30”, 32”, and 34”) in both a wood (Star) and a painted finish (Star Premium). On the senior sticks (36”) we provide a pianted stick (Star Premium) and a carbon kevlar composite stick (Championship).

    Branding at the Olympics

    Recognised branding on equipment used by the top players is an important part of the marketing strategy of the top sporting brands. Especially at the Olympic Games, where players from the twelve top teams in the world are in action.

    The Olympic committee, however, had strict rules about the size of the branding on equipment. Rule 53, Bye-Law 1.2 of the Olympic Charter, specifies: One identification of the manufacturer per item will be permitted, not taking up more than 10% of the surface area of the item, with a maximum size of 60cm2.

    On a hockey stick, 10% is a pretty small area of the stick!

    They did, however, allow for Exceptions to the general regulation. In hockey sticks this meant that: the exception to the rule may be accepted as commercially available two years before the Olympic Games and permitted in the FIH World Championships and World Cup Tournaments.

    In practical terms, this meant that the Malik stick model depicted on the previous page (see Sports Trader Oct/Nov 2008 p36) could be used by the 27 international players who preferred playing with this brand.

    This exception also made it possible for observers to calculate the Olympic Stick Tally, by counting the branded stticks used by the players in the top twelve teams that qualified to play in the Olympics.

    With 133 of the 236 players (38.4%) — at least one in every one of the 24 teams competing — in the Olympic teams using Grays, they have ample reasons to claim the titled of Preferred brand of most top international players. With a good margin.

    This was the brand used by all Chinese (runner-up in the women’s competition) and Korean men and women players and four of the runner-up Spanish men team.

    Runner-up was Gryphon, chosen by 43 players, and the brand chosen by the largest number of the SA teams (5 ladies and 6 men).

    Interestingly, most of the team members of the women’s gold winners, the Netherlands, played with brands not available in SA, apart from the two who played with Grays and Malik sticks.

    Not surprisingly, newcomer in the hockey market, adidas, had most support from their home teams Germany (5 ladies and 7 men from the gold medal winning men’s team), but did not really make a significant impression on players from other countries.

    From feedback received by Sports Trader, it would seem that adidas has so far not been able to make a significant impact on the local hockey market, reinforcing the prediction by hockey experts that even at school level, hockey players are influenced by the performance of hockey brands, rather than by the marketing strategies of non-hockey brands or the endorsement of high profile stars outside the hockey market — probably because hockey purchases are influenced by coaches who judge on performance rather than brand name.

    Aug/ Sept 2009

    What customers want

    Backpacks nowadays come with all kinds of innovations, extras and good selling points. But are these important to customers? What are the things that are important to most customers when selecting a backpack? BEVAN FRANK asked a few outdoor retailers what their customers want

    Like all sport and outdoor equipment, backpacks are constantly evolving and at every trade show new trends emerge. Fishing brands now make backpacks that can carry laptops and files, new backpacks shown at the OutDoor Europe Show in Friedrichshafen have been shedding weight and even added breathability features to straps and fastenings, a backpack that doubles as a a shopping bag has come on the market… to mention a few innovations.

    But, how important are all these new features to the average backpack buyer?

    What influences a customer in making the final decision to buy a pack? Is it the brand name, comfort features, colour, storage options… or do customers simply look at the price tag and buy the cheapest without trying them on?

    Matt Tibenham of Drifters Adventure Centre in Sandton City maintains that fit and comfort is still the most important aspect of any pack. “A pack should not be sold if the customer has not fitted the bag.”

    Apart from the comfortability, it is extremely important to have a salesman who is well informed,” says Vicky du Toit of Die Blou Meul in Alberton. “We are very reluctant to sell a backpack to a third party, without having the actual ‘wearer’ in the store. Our salesmen also assist the customer with adjusting it to fit their bodies perfectly. Some body types simply can’t wear some backpack brands!”

    The correct fit is especially important for first time hikers, says Ryan Ferreira of Outdoor Warehouse “Selecting a pack that is adaptable to a body shape is very important and can determine whether a hike is enjoyable or terrible.”

    Evan Torrance, marketing manager of Cape Union Mart agrees. “It can often be the difference between a successful Otter Trail enjoyed with friends and a painful, uncomfortable five-day ordeal.”

    Nowadays there are several backpacks developed specifically for women. These bags usually have a slightly shorter carry system because women generally have shorter backs, and narrower, shorter and closer-set shoulder straps.

    Price tag first?

    Do customers look at the price tag first and then decide whether or not to buy?

    People do look at the price tag first, says Du Toit — but it is really up to the salesperson to explain the pro’s and con’s of a certain product. “It also depends on what the client wants to do with the backpack, whether it will take a lot of wear and tear, or if it’s just a day pack,” she says. “Better quality means a bigger price, although the basic Red Mountain range, which is good value at a more affordable price, is very popular.”

    Tibenham points out that most customers are aware that a good brand is going to ultimately have a higher price tag.

    “When a customer feels that they are getting excellent quality, sufficient features in the product and world-class service and support, the price should reflect good value for money,” says Torrance.

    Size counts

    Richard Turkington of Trappers Wonderboom says that daypacks have always been popular and due to their wide usage, they will always be the biggest seller.

    “Daypacks are not only more popular but also need replacing every few years as a result of excessive use and general wear and tear,” adds Torrance.

    Most retailers agree that the 30L daypacks are the biggest sellers, but Ferreira says 20L and 25L daypacks are very popular with their customers as these are normally bought for mixed use, such as school, overseas travel, urban use and the odd hike. He also says that the 35L daypack market is growing, as more and more South Africans are climbing Kilimanjaro and the recommended size for that is a 35L daypack.

    “Hiking backpacks and travel bags are purchased for specific excursions or holidays and are not used as often,” comments Torrance.

    Travel packs are therefore seasonal (best sales are November through to February). Hiking and alpine type packs sell slowly all year round, however, winter is the prime time for hiking and mountaineering so you naturally see an increase in sales at this time of year, Turkington found.

    Tibenham found that hiking packs in the 75L range are the biggest movers, with ladies specific models proving very popular now that they are more available on the market. “Travel bags are still popular in the 75l range, but still tend to be relatively seasonal.”

    “Factors such as intended use, physical build of the user and price are to be considered in every case,” states Sarel van Rensburg of Hikers Paradise.

    Hydration: bottle or bladder

    Most packs nowadays have bladder compatibility and this has therefore become a more sought after feature - although many people now use a combination of bottles and bladders, says Tibenham.

    “Our customers usually buy the bladder, because of its many uses — they can put it on their back for a simple day walk, and if it’s a longer/weekend walk, it can easily be stored in their backpacks or day packs too,” adds Du Toit.

    Hydration systems have become indispensable for adventure sport and even larger packs are now provided with a pocket to accommodate the bladder. “All types are used from a plain 2L plastic bladder to the more professional MSR range of up to 6 litre and the specialized bladder packs such as Camelbak series,” says Van Rensburg.

    “Customers are increasingly aware of and educated about the benefits of a bladder hydration system and hence this is a feature that customers have almost come to expect in a hiking backpack,” says Torrance. “The choice of system depends again on use. An adventure racer may opt to have two different water bottles in order to regulate water and supplement intake while a hiker would opt for a bladder with just water.”

    Even daypacks nowadays come with an extra hydration compartment. “This has become an important feature, as people don’t want to carry excess around their hips or on the outside of the pack as this is uncomfortable and irritating,” says Ferreira. “Easy access is also important.” Thermal control kits are also becoming very popular.

    But, one should advise customers to avoid cheap low quality hydration systems, as this section of the market is very much where you get what you pay for! advises Turkington.

    Brand conscious?

    Do customers care about a brand name when selecting a backpack? That depends on the kind of customers that frequents a specific store.

    Drifters customers, who would be fairly knowledgeable about specialised hiking equipment, do attach value to a brand name, says Tibenham. “Customers want to know that they are buying a reputable brand.”

    Yet, customers of Die Blou Meul, which caters for a more general outdoor market, don’t really care as much about brand names. “As long as the product is comfortable and well suited to their needs, the customer is happy!” says Du Toit.

    “Not many South Africans have been exposed to the international brands, though, so as a result, the most trusted brands in the SA market are generally the ones that have been around for the longest and that have a reputation for offering quality, good value and an array of features,” remarks Torrance.

    What should it look like?

    “All packs now have their own styling features,” says Tibenham, “and this does to a degree influence a person towards a certain model. However, colour plays less of a role than it did a few years ago.”

    Du Toit found that customers are inclined to choose bright colours, for the simple reason that they can be spotted easier, should they get lost when hiking etc. “They see a bright colour as a safety feature.”

    The importance of the design or colour of the backpack, depends on what the bag will be used for, says Torrance: “One might be looking for a lightweight hydration backpack with just enough space to hold a fleece jacket or wind-breaker while cycling, in which case brighter, more visible colours (to be seen by cars or in the case of a possible mountain rescue) would seem appropriate.”

    “If a customer is going into more extreme environments a brighter, more reflective pack is required,” say Ferreira, “but people generally purchase colours that suit their personalities. They also want to buy a colour that looks good in a few years time, and therefore darker colours are the norm.”

    Storage options

    Most packs now feature fold flat pockets as opposed to the old puff pockets, so it is easy to use either way and most people still like to have these as an option, believes Tibenham.

    Du Toit feels that not many customers care about pockets, but once again, it comes down to the purpose of the backpack. Pockets are very important if you are going to carry wet stuff, so that when it leaks, or when wet clothes are stored for instance, it won’t affect the dry goods inside the main bag.

    The number of pockets, sizes and location remains a matter of personal choice to the customer, says Van Rensburg. “It is mainly decided by the manner of stowage and retrieval of items,” explains Van Rensburg. “The provision of removable clasp-type side pockets suits specific uses such as mountaineering where size adjustment is important.”

    Customers embarking on a multiday hike would opt for a hiking bag with side and top pockets in order to compartmentalize their load and to allow items to be easily accessed during the hike, advises Torrance. “This would be very different to an alpine climber who may be on a rock-face all day and need the bag to be slender in order to fit through crevices on the wall. They will also not be accessing the contents of the bag while climbing and hence may only require one main storage compartment which will be accessed once the days climbing has been completed.”

    According to Turkington, the large side protruding pockets as we know them are very much a South African thing and you won’t easily find them on packs elsewhere in the world! However more and more overseas packs are coming out with long flat bellow pockets which convert an alpine type pack into a hiking pack. “This system is very innovative as you are getting essentially two packs in one,” he explains.


    How important is customisation for a specific activity for customers, such as cycling, climbing and watersports — or do customers buy one pack that fits all?

    Du Toit believes that customisation is very important to the customer. “Each sport has a specific type of backpack suitable to it. You can’t go cycling with a travelbag or go on a weekend hike with a day pack!”

    That, however, depends on how dedicated the customer is to his or her sport, cautions Tibenham. “Those customers who are more socially active are more likely to look for a multi-purpose pack.”

    Frames & Harnesses

    He also found that there has been a definite return by most manufacturers to the more simple and proven harness systems. “Customers have been indicating that they have no real need for super revolutionary designs that do the same thing as a standard harness.”

    “Any adjustable framed backpack is in demand,” adds Ferreira. “It is important that the pack can fit comfortably on your back.”

    According to Turkington only internal frame packs are available now as the old external (H-frame) type packs are a thing of the past. “It is a pity because the old external frames can carry a much heavier load easier however with all the equipment getting much lighter and smaller internal frame packs are far more comfortable.”

    Smaller packs are fitted only with an internal stiffener from plastic and are generally not adjustable, adds Van Rensburg.

    Demand for backpacks

    He says there has not been any drop in sales of backpacks as a result of the economic downturn. “Apart from the local hiking activities, South Africans are visiting overseas countries in increasing numbers. The demand for hiking equipment remains constant and tends to even grow, particularly in terms of specialised equipment.”

    The backpacking market experienced a decline in the late 90’s, but has remained constant over the last 4-5 years, adds Turkington. He says there was an increase in the larger/expedition (overseas) type trips between 2003 and 2007, which can be seen as a pity as SA has some of the best hiking landscapes and climates in the world! “The biggest problem in SA for people wanting to get into hiking is finding information on hiking trails,” he says. “We have a shortage of tour companies doing local guided hikes to help people capture the complete hiking experience without worrying about how and where it is it safe to go. There are some trails offering slack packing trails (slack packing is when you hike with a day pack containing items you need for that day and the trail organizers move your main heavy gear to the next camp). In my opinion more hiking trails have to look at this option as it attracts a whole new market as well as the existing market.”

    Torrance confirms that despite the recession, backpack sales remain buoyant. “Backpacks and day bags are extremely versatile and offer a myriad different uses and functions.

    With the constant innovation and technological developments that are taking place, backpacks will continue to become more comfortable, useful and incorporate even more features.”

    Feb/ Mar 2009

    Camping equipment sell well in outdoor

    While some sport and footwear and clothing retailers have expressed disappointment with their Christmas holiday sales, outdoor retailers were reporting much more positive results (read The year ahead: 2 Holiday sale indicators). What kind of products were their customers most interested in?

    South African consumers seemed to have opted for the healthier close-to-nature camping option, rather than a luxury hotel stay, over the past Christmas holiday season. That is, if the higher demand for outdoor products is a reflection of holiday choice.

    The downturn in the economy could be the reason why more outdoor retailers were pleasantly surprised by holiday sales, compared to sport as well as footwear and clothing specialists, who were more disappointed with their Christmas sales. More than two-thirds of the outdoor retail respondents (64%) in the annual Sports Trader survey of December holiday sales, reported higher sales than the year before in Rand value.

    Nearly three-quarters of the outdoor retailers said that their customers tended to buy more higher-priced functional items (like tents, backpacks etc..) instead of lower-priced items.

    Outdoor customers were also not shy to buy luxury items like GPS’ and binoculars. And they wanted top of the range products from well-known brand names — less than a third (29%) of the retailers said that their customers would opt for a cheaper brand in these luxury items. The customer preference for the most well-known brand name also translated into good sales for the new Leatherman Skeletool.

    Interestingly, when buying footwear and clothing, customers also opted for the well-known brand names, although brands offering mid-priced models were more popular than the expensive top of the range ones. There was also a growing demand for ladies outdoor clothing.

    Camping equipment popular

    Camping equipment was very popular — and 86% of the outdoor retailer respondents said that their customers were interested in smaller, innovative camping accessories.

    Some of the specific camping accessories products that sold well are interesting functional items like Sea to Summit accessories (left), items from the Coghlan range, PicQuic screwdrivers and two-way radios.

    Interesting new recreational games, for example the Waboba ball that bounces on water, were also well supported.

    The fact that most customers bought items for their personal use instead of as gifts, seems to support the assumption that people went camping during this past holiday season — or stayed at home where they enjoyed participating in outdoor activities.

    This is supported by reports that inland stores tended to do better than coastal towns — and that far fewer people visited the popular holiday destinations, or at least, didn’t shop there.

    If consumers are indeed heading for the outdoors and taking up camping, this would be good news for this segment during the rest of the year as well.

    August 2007

    Changing the way you sell cricket bats

    A customer looking for a new cricket bat will pick up one bat after the other to test their "feel" before making a selection

    Would it be possible to measure this "feel" — or pick-up weight — of the bat? speculated Hugo Maree, MD of the cricket specialist store, Cricket Direct, at Supersport Park… whereupon he proceeded to develop a device that can actually measure the pick-up weight of a bat.

    This Pick-Up Weight Indicator (PWI) — believed to be the first in the world — makes selling a cricket bat considerably easier as the retailer now has guidelines on what bat would probably suit his customer’s style of play.

    "The pick-up weight will have a dramatic influence on a batsman’s reaction time and potential stroke he is going to play," says Maree. "A bat maker can produce a 2lb 13oz (dead weight) bat with either a very light or a very heavy pick-up weight. The fact that wood is a natural hand-made product with different shapes and thicknesses makes it impossible to manufacture two identical bats."

    There are four main variables to a cricket bat: thickness; length; shape and wood density. "As the game progresses, the ball becomes softer, with less bounce," Maree explains. "This implies that, on average, the ball will strike the opening (top order) batsmen higher on the bat than with the lower order batsmen."

    The PWI device calculates all four variables to a cricket bat digitally to give you the pick-up weight. This is combined with the player’s height and batting style (place in the batting line-up) – and these calculations helps the retailer to recommend a bat that has the right "feel" for that particular customer.

    "We can also determine the PWI index/’feel’ of the customer’s current bat and assist with the selection of a new bat with a similar PWI index/‘feel’."

    The PWI was initially developed to add an extra dimension to their revamped Cricket Direct store, but there was so much interest at the opening of the store, that they are now thinking about wider distribution.

    "A bat supplier has even suggested that bat manufacturers should have a PWI device in their factories that would enable them to put each pick-up weight on the label," he says. "This could make it possible to sell bats online in future."

    June/ July 2009

    Closing the sale when trading is tough

    When consumers are thinking twice about spending their money, retailers can help them decide WHERE and HOW to spend it. The retail division of TNS Research Surveys have been following consumers and the way they shop worldwide. ARNAUD FRADE, TNS Regional Director of Shopper and Retail recently shared some insights into what today’s shoppers want

    Worldwide there are certain shopping trends that are common to all consumers — and even though the research was mainly done in FMCG stores, there are many shopper-characteristics that will also apply to sport, outdoor and footwear and clothing lifestyle stores. Arnaud Frade, shopper and retail regional director for TNS Research Surveys in Africa, Asia Pacific, Latin America and the Middle East recently told a Cape Town audience about the shopper trends they identified through their research. They found that consumers are now looking for:

  • Good value: this does not mean that they are looking for the cheapest price, but they want the best value for money, for example from brands that can be trusted. They are concerned about safety issues and are becoming more aware of where products had been made — for example, Made in South Africa could become a bigger selling point. With the growing middle class in countries like China, a bigger demand has been created internally and manufacturing and export prices from the East are therefore going to increase and selling on price alone could become more difficult.

  • Consumers want simplicity and clearly defined niche markets — they don’t want confusion. How products are presented in the store and how consumer sections are labelled could make the difference between a sale, or not. A retailer can, in fact, tell consumers what they need to buy through signage and by creating theme or brand areas.

  • For example: a Pretoria angling store created dedicated sections for bass, carp, fly etc. where the consumer will be able to find everything in a clearly defined area, instead of having to look for rods in one area, hooks in another, line further away, etc.

    The same could apply to a sport store — create a cricket area where a consumer will be reminded that he might also needs socks, a cap, grips, sunblock, a water bottle, compression baselayer etc. when buying a bat.

  • Customers can be encouraged to buy more by grouping seemingly unrelated products together. Frade uses the example of a convenience store that grouped nappies and beer together as a “special” — and despite the fact that both brands were amongst the most expensive, they sold very well. The store owner obviously knew his customer well and that the young fathers need beer as much as their babies need nappies. All it needs is “thinking outside the bow”.

  • Nowadays, time is short and shoppers are often in a hurry — short trips are now becoming critical. Therefore, place the popular items that people buy in a hurry near the entrance, as the longer a hurried shopper stays in a store, the more frustrated he becomes, and the less likely he is to buy, says Frade. Forget about the old belief that you should hide the most popular items at the back so that the customer is forced to go through the store and hopefully buy other items on impulse.

  • Wider aisles promote sales — where merchandise encroach on aisles, consumer frustration increase and they buy less.

  • Today the focus in retailing is on the specific items that drives revenue, says Frade.

  • (This does not mean that all stores must offer the same brands or items — it depends on the profile of your typical customer. For example, customers of a specialist football store will buy other brands than the same brands stocked by general sport stores or chains).

  • Brand building should happen before the shopper enters the store, so that the consumer enters the store with a clear disposition of what they want. The retailer’s only concern in the store should be to sell, sell, sell.

  • In future, technology — mobile, internet and RFID — will become more important:

  • In future a shopper chip in a cell phone could send an SMS to alert the customer to specials or remind him or her to buy their favourite shopping items — and then, upon exiting, an RFID scanner recognises the items in the shopper’s basket, and simply deducts the amount owed from the cell phone, via the shopper chip. This technology is already used in a store in Germany and one in the US, says Frade.

  • Dynamic pricing — where prices change during slower and higher volume shopping — has already been introduced in some European stores. Although there is some consumer resistance, daily price changes (made possible with technology) is a more sophisticated form of the annual sale, says Frade. It is simply a way of attracting customers to the store during quiet periods in a day, instead of season.

  • The use of RFID, which can ensure seamless stocktaking and improve store security, is equally controversial. But, says Frade: it’s here to stay and people will eventully get used to it.

  • Some future trends are already used in South Africa — for example, giving customers the opportunity to recommend product. For example, a Cape Town wine store has a taste table where customers can rank new wines. The same could, for example, be done with selected samples of new sports or outdoor goods: let customers test them in-store and give their opinion before you decide to stock a new brand.

  • During a recession the market does not disappear, but consumers re-evaluate how they shop:

  • They think more about purchases and look for better value. They are prepared to spend a little extra on a better product from a brand they trust;

  • Small luxuries replace big splurges;

  • When money is tight, people often explore new routes for purchasing, for example, joining resources to form buying clubs to get bulk discounts.

  • During bad times there is usually a stronger feeling of nationalism and Made in South Africa could influence purchases.

  • Many brands use a recession to refresh and strengthen their business models… some of today’s top brands were launched during a recession — but discounting will devalue a brand and drag it down, says Frade.

  • For more information about TNS Research on shopper and retail trends visit or contact Peter Wilson on Tel: 021 657 9500. Email:

    August / September 2008

    Do court stars sell shoes?

    What do tennis and squash players look for when they buy court shoes? FANIE HEYNS asked the people in the know

    That epic encounter on Wimbledon centre court between the two modern day giants of men’s tennis, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal, in July 2008 did not only boost the popularity of the game. While Federer and Nadal were dancing athletically around that grass court to smash unbelievable returns and produce effortless winners, they were also salesmen for their footwear and clothing brand, Nike.

    And while Maria Sharapova and Ana Ivanovic may have made early exits at The Championships at SW 19 in 2008, the cosmetic value of their footwear would not have escaped the admiring gazes of their tennis playing fans who try their utmost to emulate their heroines. Not that Sharapova and Ivanovic did not give their sponsors (Nike and adidas respectively) and fans enough TV-exposure recently. Sharapova won the Australian Open, the first Grand Slam of 2008, in convincing fashion. That was her third Grand Slam success, following Wimbledon (2004) and the US Open (2006).

    Ivanovic survived crushing defeats at the finals of the French Open in 2007 and the Australian Open of 2008 to win the French Open in 2008 through a dynamic display of attacking tennis and all-court athleticism.

    Follow the stars?

    Does this make any difference to the consumers buying shoes?

    While price is paramount for most of his customers, consumers are swayed by what they see on TV, says Anchel Wiid, manager of the sport section of Kloppers.

    “The juniors would want to emulate their heroes, like a Federer (12 time Grand Slam winner and the #1-ranked player in the world for four years and six months) and a Nadal (winner of four French Opens and Wimbledon in 2008 and the man who replaced Federer as the top-player in the world).

    “The juniors are especially focused on their heroes.

    “On the women’s side, cosmetics are the primary factor,” he says. “How attractive the shoe looks, is more important from the junior female perspective than most other factors,” says Wiid.

    Does that mean that the top-players in the world, like Ivanovic, Sharapova and Jelena Jankovic are being followed on TV and efforts are being made to buy what they are wearing?

    “Yes. They (the juniors) do have a look at who plays with a particular tennis shoe, and then try to emulate them.”

    But, clients also want good cushioning and a durable shoe, he says. “Normally they want to wear a shoe that is soft and comfortable. They also want a product that would last them at least six months.”

    Squash club, or more professional players, are swayed more regularly by the cushioning and comfort than by sustained efforts to make a fashion statement. “People look at what gives the best support, as squash players have to change direction frequently during a game,” says Wiid.

    Squash does not make such regular TV-appearances as tennis either.

    Most adult players are not so brand-conscious as juniors when buying a court shoe.

    “The biggest request from consumers is that a court shoe must be comfortable,” says John Andrew, New Balance product manager.

    “It must be durable, especially in the toe box area where the player rolls the foot over the toe area.

    “Support in the heel area is also very important and the heel should not be too low to the ground. The outer sole durability is also very important as the SA courts are very hard on tennis shoes.”

    Craig Nairn, national product manager of Hi-Tec, agrees that comfort and function are of paramount importance, with cosmetic value a secondary characteristic.

    “In court sports, where the players subject themselves to high impact and pressure associated with quick changes in direction, the comfort and support offered by the product is essential,” says Nairn. “The key here is that the player must forget that they are wearing shoes and focus all their attention on playing the game. If they are worried about changing direction quickly or playing a particular shot because it results in discomfort or a loss of balance then the shoes aren’t doing their job and both the enjoyment and competitive ability of the player is compromised.”

    Function more than fashion

    Court shoes are almost always bought with function in mind, which is quite different to almost all other categories of sports footwear that are often bought for casual and multifunctional reasons and where the look of the product will have more of an influence on purchases, says Nairn.

    “It is also here that the knowledge of the shop floor staff is essential as they must be able to sell the features of a given product within the parameters of the consumer’s budget and athletic requirements. Within our range of court product we focus heavily on function and this comes through the analysis of the playing patterns of our top sponsored athletes, with cosmetic value a secondary characteristic. After this, the look and price of the product is important, but comfort and function are critical,” adds Nairn.

    Nairn says players would buy specific shoes for squash, as the gum rubber outsole grips better on the wooden floor squash court, while cross-trainers generally have a carbon rubber outsole. In tennis, people tend to use court shoes, but it depends on how seriously they play the sport. Social players who only play tennis once or twice a year, might use cross-trainers.

    But 99% of regular tennis and squash players will buy footwear specifically designed for that sport, says Andrew.

    Durability is a big issue. Tennis courts in South Africa are generally very abrasive, and therefore players would use tennis-specific products that are more durable.

    Most good squash clubs also prohibit the use of shoes that are not squash specific. Squash players who venture onto the court without a non marking sole, may be kicked off the court, says Steve Gallienne, of Dunslaz Distributors, distributor of Dunlop and Slazenger brands.

    A person who ventures onto a tennis court or squash court once a year to fool around with his mates, wouldn’t necessarily have a specific tennis or squash shoe and might wear a cross-trainer, adds Robert Blom, managing director of Thornbird Trading, local distributor of Lotto tennis shoes. “Your more advanced or regular player would be fully aware of the benefits of specific shoes.”

    Aware of advantages

    How aware are consumers of the advantages of sport specific court shoes?

    Well, remembering that you have to make an investment of several hundreds of rand, most clients would certainly ask the shop assistant for some technical support and advice on the pros and cons of the shoe before purchasing it, says Nairn.

    “Better players go through shoes very quickly if they do not wear tennis specific shoes, and that can become very costly,” says Gallienne. “A tennis specific shoe with support and toe cap protection will save them money in the long run and improve their performance.”

    The toe drag is a factor — especially when a tennis player serves — that could really compromise the durability and hence players would look at the protection in the toe area that is given by a tennis-specific shoe.

    Gallienne believes that between 60-70% of all tennis court users make use of a court shoe, while the rest — mainly occasional social players — won’t mind using a cross-trainer.

    Greg Moran, co-owner of Roscoe’s Tennis in Durban, runs a tennis academy and a retail store that specializes in mainly tennis footwear. He says that they almost always enforce the rule that members must use tennis-specific court shoes. “We make them aware of the advantages, like the fact that it prevents injuries.

    “If you wear slightly lesser shoes than a court shoe, you might encounter knee problems or even back problems.”

    The established customers frequenting Thinus Rakette know what they want and ask for the specific shoe they want, says Daleen van Rooyen, who earlier this year became sole owner of this racket specialist store in Vanderbijlpark.

    Normally they specify what type of court shoe they want. “They primarily ask about the price, and then about the protection around the front toe, as well as whether there is protection for the heel,” says Van Rooyen.

    Asked what more can be done to make end users and customers more aware of the advantages of court shoes, Blom said: “Marketing strategies would entail empowering internal sales people with knowledge at the point of sales.”

    Andrew agrees. “We need to do more in store training with store staff, keep our sponsored athletes updated on new technologies and keep on advertising the benefits,” he says.

    April 2006

    Do you meet your customers’ tent needs?

    Tent sales are booming, especially in the family camping market. While many families still make their annual trek to the coast or gaming resort with a caravan hitched behind the car, there’s a growing trend of people who prefer to pack a sizable tent in the boot of their cars before hitting the road

    "With fuel prices ever on the increase, as well as the insurance campers have to pay on their caravans, the swing has been to sell off the cumbersome caravans, which stood for 10 months each year and then cost heavily to transport on holidays, not to mention the time-sapping labour involved in setting up camp," says Dave Barry of Tentco.

    Another advantage of tents is that campers who own 4x4s can now also explore more naturally wild areas armed with a tent, whereas it would be more difficult when towing a caravan.

    "Camping resorts countrywide are being transformed into more user-friendly spots equipped with electrical outlets that make setting up homes away from home a lot easier," adds Barry.

    This perception, that the demand for tents is growing, is confirmed by a snap survey of stockists and suppliers of tents. According to 69% of the respondents there has been an increase in the demand for tents, while only 23% report a decline in the demand for tents. Family tents are not only the most popular (according to 92% respondents), but these tents have also registered the biggest growth in demand: 62% respondents report a bigger demand for family tents.

    There is a slightly higher demand for synthetic tents (65%) than canvas (61%), which could be price related.

    "In my store the tent market is divided into three areas: a cheap range of synthetic tents with 600-800mm water column for the customers who camp once or twice a year; a mid-range synthetic tent for the customers who camp more often and want a better quality, for instance about 1000mm water column, and the top range for the regular camper who wants a good quality canvas tent," says Kobus Smit of Worcester Gas & Sport.

    According to the respondents, the biggest demand is for family size (62%) bow tents (67%). Bow tents are traditionally easier for the person who intends to stop and go every two or so days around the countryside – as erection here is merely six minutes compared to the fuller frame tents that, whilst extra sturdy and roomy, do take at least 40 minutes to erect properly, says Barry.

    While canvas tents are exceptionally weather resistant, waterproof, are stronger in high winds when erected with a spring steel frame and can be re-treated over many years’ usage, they are heavier and therefore not suitable for hiking, and are often more difficult to erect.

    The lower end nylon tents, however, can become extremely hot inside and are not very good at providing UV resistance, the fabric breaks down quickly (after two years) and cheaper models can leak in the seams, while constant folding cracks the coating, cautions Barry.

    They would therefore not be suitable for the technical hiker and climber either, who would require a proper hiking tent made from specially treated rip-stop nylon etc.

    "Two important factors to consider when it comes to selecting a tent are the number of people who will be sleeping in the tent and how much living space you’ll need," says Dave Imrie of Akals.

    He recommends that you allow at least 60 cm per person for the inner tent. The tent should have at least 200cm² ventilation surface per person, and take into account that you have to store your equipment (like backpacks, shoes, etc). If there’s no additional area outside the tent (apses, porches) you’ll have to store your equipment inside, thus reducing the sleeping area.

    But, it is not only families that are opting for more portable accommodation — there is also a 54% growth in demand for tents amongst anglers, with 85% of the retailers reporting that they sell tents to anglers.

    The fact that anglers can no longer drive along beaches, but might have to walk long distances and then want to camp out, has been mooted as a possibile reason for the growth in demand for tents among anglers. Anglers, for instance attach more importance to light weight when buying a tent than general campers, which could indicate that they have to carry the tent.

    Hunters seem to buy their equipment at specialist hunting outlets, not general retailers, as general retailers report a low demand for tents from hunters ... except respondents who sell arms and ammunition.

    While a high number of respondents (77%) report a demand for tents from hikers and climbers, this market does not seem to be growing as much (only 38%) as the demand from family camping or anglers.

    It could be because the demands of this market segment is very technical and consumers would therefore prefer to buy from a specialist store, where they would get expert advice. In extreme conditions, a tent could, after all, mean the difference between life and death.

    Technical features that ensure safety — e.g. protection against the elements, sturdiness of poles, a high waterhead would be more important than, for instance, price.

    There is a tendency for a group of hikers to buy a larger tent so that they can share the weight amongst each other, with one person carrying the poles and pegs, the other carries the flysheet and inner, etc., instead of each carrying small individual tents," says Ryan van Niekerk of Ram Mountaineering.

    But, he cautions, the features hikers look for in tents, depend very much on the end users, as the where and how they use it, will determine what they need. "Do not expect one tent to do everything well. For example, a tent that is very well ventilated is not necessarily going to do well in cold, wet environments," says Van Niekerk.

    Conversely, someone hiking during the hottest and driest time of the year will not be too concerned about having a wet weather entrance.

    The trick would be to get a clear indication of your customers’ needs, before selling.

    August / September 2008

    Do you need a Beckham or Ronaldinho to sell a boot?

    Is it worthwhile — or necessary — to spend thousands (or millions) to sign a big name star in order to promote and sell a team boot range? That is the question FANIE HEYNS put to several SA team boot brand managers

    Different strokes for different folks, is a very true adage.

    In 2006, Brazil’s national football team got $12-mil for playing the famed “beautiful game” in Nike soccer shoes. Names like Ronaldo, Ronaldinho or Cristiano Ronaldo have, among others, become so closely identified with the swoosh that they could just as well have been employed as a Nike marketing team.

    David Beckham and adidas — need one say more?

    Thierry Henry has not only inspired the new Reebok Sprintfit range, but is also the inspiration for their fashionable off-field range.

    Closer to home, the Jomo Sono boot put Puma on the local soccer map a few decades ago, while big Schalk’s big boots gave them a massive rugby footprint.

    And when Le Coq Sportif launched in SA, they couldn’t have asked for better luck than France’s darling Freddy Michalak joining the Sharks, kitted out by Le Coq Sportif.


    But, do the staggering amounts paid to secure the services of the big name stars and teams actually translate into enough sales to justify the signing?

    In some instances yes, others no, and in one instance ja-nee.

    In SA, the Thierry Henry-inspired Sprintfit range hasn’t been Reebok’s best seller, but nor was it intended to be so, says Deane Nothard, communications manager of Reebok SA. “The Sprintfit range is our top-end boot designed for the serious soccer player — the majority of soccer players in SA, especially at grass roots level, aren’t in a position to buy the top-end boots,” says Nothard.

    However, you can’t discount the credibility an icon like Henry brings to the brand, and the knock-on effect it has on all Reebok branded boots.

    Locally, Reebok sponsors a number of individual soccer players, and most of the players in the Reebok sponsored teams of Bloem Celtic and AmaZulu are also wearing the Sprintfit range of Reebok boots.

    This brand awareness for the Reebok boot filters right through the Reebok ranges to their Africa boot, which is the biggest seller locally and one of the most affordable boots on the market, adds Nothard.

    With international icons such as Henry and Ryan Giggs, and local heroes such as Godfrey Sapula, Lefa Tsutsulupa and Nathan Paulse, to name a few, kids can aspire to these players and especially to the technical products that help them reach their top performance. In this regard, Reebok is a brand tested by some of the best soccer players locally and internationally, ensuring that there is a commitment to quality and performance across the entire Reebok range, said Nothard.

    Therefore, yes to stars: 1

    Boots named after players generally do sell well, as these players are generally sporting icons that people aspire to, says Duncan Kukard, director of Le Coq Sportif. “It is great to be associated with your hero, and play in the same boots as they do. In most cases these players are also a walking brand name. Add this to a great sporting brand, and your success rate goes up.”

    Since launching in SA earlier this year, Le Coq Sportif have not only had the backing of Freddy Michalak, but have also teamed up with SA rugby stars Conrad Jantjes and Kabamba Floors.

    “The named boots are not always the best sellers, as they tend to be the top-end’s most expensive boots,” says Kukard. He does, however, agree with Northard that from a marketing perspective, the rewards and credibility offered are fantastic and worth every cent. “In our case, the Michalak boot does this for us.”

    He does add a note of caution: “The cons of the matter are obviously when a player associated gets labelled for something, such as drug use or cheating. The brand is then dragged down together with the player.”

    Yes to stars: 2

    “But, if the star has a lifetime and a legacy beyond the product they endorse, then yes, it can be very worthwhile, adds Brett Bellinger, marketing director of Puma SA.

    “In addition, there is the unquantifiable brand building and association effect. Association of the star with the product and the brand drives further sales of the brand in other categories simply by association.”

    Yes to stars: 3

    Lotto sponsors many international soccer players, and these players do sell the product well, says Robert Blom, director of Thornbird Trading, distributor of Lotto in SA. “These endorsements are worth their value,” he says.

    Luca Toni was one of the strikers in that Italian team that upset the 1998-holders, France, in Germany. “It is good for the Lotto brand to have stars who endorse the brand, as there is high visibility, and young players do want to emulate the stars,” added Blom.

    Lotto was a very prominent brand at the European Football Championship in 2008, which saw sixteen national teams playing 31 matches, a tournament televised in 180 countries worldwide with over 8-bn viewers watching it. The players who endorsed the Lotto soccer boot were Danijel Pranjic, Dario Knezevic, Igor Budan, Toni, Simone Perrotta, Morgan De Sanctis, Adam Kokszka, Henk Timmer, Mark Jankulovski, Marius Constantin Nicolae, Marius Viorel Popa, Razvan Cocis, Joan Capdevila, Jan Gutierrez Moreno, Sergei Ignashevich and Ivic Vastic.

    Yes to stars: 4

    Lara Mackay, sports marketing manager of Umbro SA, says they have three key international players who endorse the brands — John Terry, Michael Owen and Deco.

    For the current season, the SX Valor for the more robust defensive type of player, is endorsed by Terry. Then there is the SX Flare by Owen for a more attacking player where speed is vital. Deco has endorsed both boots as a midfielder.

    When selling these top-end boots locally, it certainly does help to be able to promote the product that these international stars wear. “But, in the SA economy, these boots are imported at great cost and there is only a certain niche market that would be able to afford or even be prepared to spend that amount of money on a pair of boots, says Mackay.

    “So, no, these top-end boots would not be our best seller as the market for them is not that big,” said Mackay.

    Mackay added that it is vital for the success of any brand to have iconic players who endorse their products. “I do not believe that the products at this level would succeed for any brand without the endorsement, but the debate on whether the huge expense is warranted would need to be evaluated by each brand,” she says.

    “Budgets vary and with the huge salaries that these top players are demanding, the brands have to spend big money to secure these players.

    “Also, with Umbro we have far fewer top players, but the ones we have, are very loyal and stay with the brand even after their playing days (for example Alan Shearer) as Brand Ambassadors.

    “It definitely does help with the brand appeal to have these players endorsing not just specific products, but the brand as a whole.”

    Yes: 4 • Ja-nee: 1

    On the other hand, the Optimum boot has done very well in the UK, extending sales to 26 000 pairs in its first year, without going the route of players endorsing the boot, says Tony Barker, a director of Optimum in SA.

    “The idea has been to market a top-end boot at a mid range price,” he says. “This concept worked well in the UK, and in SA it has been the introductory season, so it is a question of wait and see.”

    Yes: 4 • Ja-nee: 1 • No: 1

    A director of another brand who was prepared to be quoted only on condition of anonymity, said: “ I am not sure the stars warrant the investment made. The money spent on the players to endorse the product is added onto the price of the item anyway, so the public pays for the endorsement in the end.

    “Quite often the player holds out for the best deal and there is very little allegiance. If the public were more aware of this, they might question the ethics and motives of the brands and the players.”

    Yes: 4 • Ja-nee: 1 • No: 2

    Gilbert SA made an assessment about their position in the market. “We decided that you cannot be all things to all people at all times. First and foremost, we are a rugby brand that is run and managed by rugby lovers.

    “We went back to our core — and that was to manufacture and market a forward-specific rugby boot with eight studs suited to the tight five in the pack,” said Du Toit Botes, group general manager of Gilbert South Africa.

    “We have done very well. We would like to believe that we are the market leader in our segment,” he says. “We have researched the needs that tight five forwards have. We sat down with the players and discussed what was of utmost importance to them.

    “One of the things mentioned by big, heavy players like Johan Ackermann (former Springbok lock of the Sharks who represented the Sharks in a couple of Super 14-games in the 2008-season) is that when a lineout-jumper lands on the toes of the props after a line-out, their feet suffer.

    “Because of this research, Gilbert has improved its design to suit the needs of the tight five and has added a toe-cap. We have designed it to become a specialist shoe,” explains Botes.

    The sole unit was also designed to carry the weight of a player of 100kg or more. Heel support was added to assist the Achilles heel of the heavy forwards.

    The Gilbert product was endorsed by ten to twelve Super 14-forward specialists during the past season. Apart from Ackermann, Rory Duncan (a former Cheetah captain), Jaco Engels (Bulls’ loosehead-prop), Dewald Senekal (Lions’ lock), Franco vd Merwe (Lions’ flank/lock) and Adriaan Fondse (Stormers and WP lock) also endorsed the Gilbert forward specific boots. The Rugby World Cup was a great showcase for Gilbert, not only for being the official ball, but also being the official footwear supplier to Namibia RU, Martin Corry (England captain), Martin Owen (Wales), Dan Parks (Scotland) and Mick O’Driscoll (Ireland).

    “Although we have not had players with their own names on boots, we have achieved a massive amount with very little endorsement.” says Botes.

    “Players have watched other players who have used the boot, and have identified with the type of specialist boot, and the function it fulfils in supporting that specific style of player, and it has worked wonders for us,” he adds.

    Yes: 4 • Ja-nee: 1 • No: 3

    Asics is another brand that relies more on their reputation for providing top class technical features, than big name stars. Working from the premise that football stars can in any case not perform if they are injured, they rather spend money on research and development of boots that will limit injuries. Their Gel-Lethal range of football boots were designed with the objective to enhance performance, actively support players’ biomechanics and help prevent injuries.

    Yes: 4 • Ja-nee: 1 • No: 4

    Teams and event spin-offs

    But, it is not only association with players that heighten brand recognition — association with a specific event or team can create the same brand awareness that eventually results in boot sales.

    During the 2006 Fifa World Cup on their home turf, adidas earned €1.2-bn from the sale of football-related products. The sales were across all categories, spread much wider than just for replica of the home and other teams they sponsored. The visibility of the adidas name as the official ball sponsor and on the clothing worn by officials, had a spin-off across all sales categories. The 2008 European Football Championship final was also kind to them since both teams in the final — Germany and Spain – played in adidas kit.

    Puma also benefitted from World Cup 2006 recognition by sponsoring the winning Italian team and just about all the African teams competing. Already well-represented on the African continent with twelve federations bearing their logo, they will now also become more visible on the local PSL pitch after signing a deal with newly-promoted PSL team Bay United. The contract will run from August 2008 to beyond the World Cup in 2010 and will include a full technical footwear and teamwear sponsorship.

    Canterbury, sponsor of the IRB Rugby World Cup winning Springbok team, declined to comment.

    Development sponsorship

    The image of a brand can also be promoted by the social benefits of a sponsorship.

    Le Coq Sportif sponsors a local Durban township team called Ses’ Khona, where Michalak also acts as coach and mentor when he is available. The company kit them out with international-design boots and jerseys, and also take their logo through into an international collection sold globally.

    This also presents an opportunity for the brand to give something back to the players, says Kukard, as 6 % of the sales goes to the development of rugby in KwaZulu Natal via the Sharks’ development office.

    Millé has a strong association with the local development of soccer through their sponsorship of the USSASA U14 team. On the other side of the spectrum, their sponsorship of Golden Arrows provides them with brand recognition among the PSL fans. They are currently in the process of developing new kit for them.

    “Our boots sell very well at the entry level, especially in the school market,” says brand manager Nanda Dalpat.

    “Our customers are very happy with our boots, especially as we have been able to keep our price below R199 at retail. Their 2009 range will have additional features, but should still retail at below R299, despite worldwide rising manufacturing costs.

    June 2006

    Do you stock enough walking shoes?

    Run/Walk for Life is a vibrant 22-year old, having shed 32 000kg in 2005. Its growth shows that fitness walking is fast establishing itself as one of SA’s most popular fitness activities, reports FANIE HEYNS

    During the past year, Run/Walk for Life registered massive growth of more than 20% and now has more than 30 000 members, says club MD Matthew Grossett.

    He attributes this growth to the fact that Run/Walk for Life refined a very good product over 22 years.

    But worldwide, walking is one of the most popular aerobic activities. In America it is the fastest growing fitness activity, with more participants than running. This trend is mirrored in SA. About 85% of the Run/Walk for Life members are walkers and only 15% runners.

    The Johannesburg Walk the Talk event now draws fields in excess of 20 000 entrants. The Cape Town Big Walk and the Big Cities’ Spar Ladies road races, all draw more entrants than the Comrades ultra marathon, claims Grossett.

    The Run/Walk for Life website claims it is the leading fitness and weight control programme in SA. The term fitness can, however, be misleading in the wide scope in which it is applied, says Grossett.

    No one will deny that the work rate of Schalk Burger, the Springbok flank, is mind boggling, and has probably never been witnessed in someone so young. But put Burger in a top-class running field over 10km or a top-class squash game and he will wilt faster than the Super 14-team of the Cats.

    "I will take your average Comrades runner and have some little 50kg-walker blow him right out of the water," claims Grossett.

    The health benefits of the Run/Walk for Life club are encouraging. In 2005, 32 000kg of weight was lost, 946 people reduced their cholesterol, while 638 reduced dependency on blood pressure medication, according to the Run/Walk for Life website.

    For general cardiovascular fitness you don’t need to work yourself into a stupor. The American College of Sports Medicine recommends that 3 workouts per week, like walking at about 60–70% of your maximum heart rate, is as beneficial to your general wellbeing and overall health profile as the fitness freak who spends hours and hours doing his thing, says Grossett.

    Walking raises your metabolic rate, which in turn, kick-starts weight loss. Any aerobic activity done regularly at an intensity of 60–70% of your maximum heart rate, coupled with a sensible eating plan, will see the inches and kilogrammes start disappearing.

    Of course, upping the heart rate above the limits mentioned above, will accelerate the process, but then one is really beginning to look at the more elite athlete.

    The key is regular aerobic exercise, like walking for 30 minutes at least 3 times weekly or more, as well as sensible eating and walking briskly.

    Grossett says you can spend 2 hours in a gymnasium and get no cardiovascular benefit at all by doing a few bicep curls and tricep-pushdowns, but you could have most Comrades runners gasping and sore after a hard 30 minute speed-walking session. About 30 – 40 minutes of quality walking is as good if not better than the gymnasium workout described above, which, in truth, is what the most average gymnasium person does, maintains Grossett.

    Walking becomes an attractive sport and leisure activity because it is relatively cheap for the beginner. A pair of athletic walking shoes, track pants and T-shirt will do to start off. You can do it any time suitable to yourself, you don’t need to be a super fit hero to start and the health benefits are awesome with regards to reducing the risk factors for coronary heart disease, says Grossett.

    "Just about anyone can walk. You can do it alone or with a partner and the risk of injury is much smaller than with running or gymnasium work. It’s transportable. You can do it in the mountains, on the beach or in your suburb and no special apparatus is needed," says Grossett.

    Does Run/Walk for Life cater more for the Golden Girls or Grumpy Old Men than the Young and the Restless? Evidently, this is not the case.

    More women than men historically joined the Run/Walk for Life club — 70% women vs 30% men, and mostly in the age bracket 30 – 50. But with partners like Discovery Health, there had been a steady increase in membership in the 20–30 age group, says Grossett.

    Run/Walk for Life has more than 85 branches in most metropolitan areas. The club employs very competent managers, most of whom were ultra marathon-athletes, explains Grossett. These managers undergo a 3-month training schedule to assist new or established members with whatever goal or programme they have.

    One of the greatest assets of the club is that it caters for all shapes, sizes, tastes and goals.

    Beginners, who just want to walk and become fitter, share their goal with the manager, who would assist him/her in attaining it without using strenuous Kamp Staaldraad–methods.

    People who want to run a road race, a half marathon, or marathon can also contact the club, and the managers will set up a programme to assist these athletes and drive them to new heights.

    In 2005, Run/Walk for Life assisted 58 athletes with programmes and plans, inter alia to run the Comrades. Six of them won silver medals. "We benchmark where people are and we help them set realistic goals. Not everyone wants to be a Comrades athlete," he says.

    The club is also involved with some road races, and marshal tables. In 2005, Run/Walk for Life organized the O’ Grady’s Paint Road Race in Somerset West that received the award as the Road Race of the Month in December.

    Grossett claims many competitors have tried similar programmes without success.

    Prof. Tim Noakes, director and founder member of the Sport Science Institute in Newlands, Cape Town, says Grossett’s statement is not quite true. "’We run a program called Optifit, which is not commercially driven. We offer our services for free. In 1983, we started a program with the Cape Argus to get people fit for a marathon. We wanted a group of 30 wannabe-athletes but received 600 calls. We just took 30 names.

    "It was obvious there was a gap in the market, and in 1983 Ivan Cohen started the company (Run/Walk for Life) in Johannesburg. We took the scientific route and they took the commercial route. We were not commercially driven," says Noakes.

    June/ July 2009

    Facing global retail challenges

    Methods to beat the global retail downturn was a recurring theme in discussions at the 2009 Word Retail Congress, held in Barcelona early in May this year

    Just as the current business challenges are the direct consequence of a new integrated global economy, so too are the solutions, and retailers can no longer afford to operate or think in isolation, delegates to the 2009 Word Retail Congress heard. More than 2,000 retail leaders have attended the World Retail Congress since its launch in 2007 as a forum where global retailers can discuss mutual issues of concern. Some of the issues that were highlighted at the 2009 congress were:

    Recovery is coming

    Retailers should keep their nerve and prepare for new opportunities in the global market, as leading economists predict the first signs of economic recovery by the end of this year. The global recovery would depend on the US and China and we could see the first signs of an upturn in the US economy by the end of this year or in early 2010, said Dr. Ira Kalish, Director of Global Research with Deloitte. He said that despite the continued downtown in the US, fiscal and monetary stimuli were helping. Consumer spending was holding up well in China, as the rise in joblessness was largely among lower earners, rather than the more affluent middle classes.

    Echoing the view that the start of recovery may only be months away, Ajay Kapur, Chief Global and Asia Strategy with Mirae Asset, highlighted three key trends that would influence the global economy in future:

  • A shift from wealth-driven economies to more middle-income spending;

  • A swing from export to domestic consumption in emerging markets, and

  • A reduction in violence in the Middle East, reflecting a reduction in the numbers of disaffected youth.

  • But, government’s measures to minimise the impact of the financial crisis on their economies could lead to a new era of protectionism, warned Dr. William Fung, Managing Director of Li & Fung, the leading global sourcing company. He is concerned that we may see a fundamental change in attitudes that could result in the type of trade barriers that emerged in the wake of the Wall Street Crash. “We must be careful that history does not repeat itself,” he said.

    Retailers should stick to what they do best and avoid the temptation of knee-jerk responses to recessionary conditions, like value offers, cautioned Jerry Storch, Chairman and CEO of Toys R Us. “Do what you do that’s better than the others. Don’t try to be someone else. Strategies must be company specific,” he said.

    Retailers face two major challenges in the post-crisis economy, said Richard Simonin, CEO of clothing retailer Etam: ensure that marketing responds to changes in consumer mentality; and maintain strong staff leadership in a market where the future is uncertain.

    New concepts to weather storm

    Focusing on new concepts that enhance shopper appeal and introducing a new communications strategy are key elements of getting the basics right during recessionary conditions, said Etam’s Simonin.

  • Upmarket Harvey Nichols has, for example, unveiled plans to dedicate the 4th floor of its flagship Knightsbridge store in London to young fashion, targeting the 15–21 year old shopper who have never experienced previous recessions and are therefore less likely to curb their spending. They previously targeted the older affluent consumer.

  • “eBay is a great place for items that are one season old that merchants want to get out of their stores,” says John Donahoe, President and CEO of eBay. He highlighted how retailers can form a partnership with eBay to provide a market for older season’s ranges or returned items. “Think of us as an online outlet mall. It is clear that buyer and seller behaviour will change in the next five years. We’ve got to embrace the fact that online and offline retail is merging… e-commerce is still in an early stage representing about 5% of the market. We believe this will become 15-20%.”

  • Retailers also called on suppliers and credit insurers to be more transparent, in order to help them remain secure during the downturn. As Ron Marshall, CEO of Borders US remarked: a retailer nowadays needs to be as concerned about his suppliers’ creditworthiness as his own. He further told retailers to “get back to basics” and become more responsible for their own cash flow.

  • Retailers were also urged to “open up the doors and share trading forecasts” by Dan Murphy, director of AlixPartners. “Retailers haven’t felt comfortable in sharing data and sharing future forecasts, so suppliers had no idea whether they would come back for a second repeat.”

  • Opportunities from behaviour shift

    “Great merchants will have the courage to try new strategies. Now is not the time to shy away from innovation and uniqueness,” said Marvin Traub, former President and CEO of Bloomingdales, who led the store’s transformation between 1950-1991. “This is the most difficult and challenging time the industry has ever faced. The issue is survival and success depends on leadership.”

    The fundamental shift in consumer behaviour is “not a weather change, this is climate change,” said Jim Stengel, CEO of Jim Stengel LLC and former Global Marketing Officer of Procter & Gamble. While consumer confidence is returning, spending is not increasing, he continued. “A recessionary mindset has taken hold.”

    According to him “ripples of opportunity” can be turned into “waves of growth” if you:

  • stand for something that matters;

  • play a deeper and more important role in consumers’ lives — customer centricity is a new buzz word as retailers and brands are urged to interact more intimately with their customers. An example is the Nike iD concept that allows consumers to design their own shoe;

  • focus on ownership, not purchase;

  • cultivate smart and savvy shoppers by supplying relevant product knowledge;

  • create joint value for retailers and brands.

  • He advised retailers and suppliers to work collaboratively, based on “a deeper, shared understanding and shared goals. Understand the shopper in ways that only suppliers and retailers do.”

    Staff key to customer satisfaction

    Engaging with staff is essential to succeed in meeting customers’ needs, a panel of leading retailers told delegates. Customer-centric retailing, a philosophy that puts customer analysis and understanding at the very heart of the business, is on the rise, they said.

  • Retailer Best Buy, for example, encourage all their 180 000 employees to act entrepreneurially, said CEO Bob Willett. He warned that retailers should align everything holistically, including segmentation of profit and loss by customer lifestyle.

  • Staff participation in the logistics structure is essential for success, added Inditex chief communications officer Jesus Echevarria. They can replenish stock globally within 48-72 hours, because store staff take responsibility for the restocking process and create the right image of stock depth in stores, removing customer frustrations.

  • Motivating staff — the best advert a retailer has — was vital in the downturn, advised Simon Herrick, finance director of speciality electrics retailer Kesa.

  • A successful retailer from India, Shopper’s Stop seconds staff to other big retailers like Marks & Spencer to foster particular skills and experience. According to store founder BS Nagesh their transparent succession system ensures that they retain good staff members.

  • Money-saving store designs

    A panel of store designers have urged retailers to revise, remix, reinvent and reuse in order to make the most of what they have to save money during the downturn. Some ideas for saving on store designs were:

  • Consider graphic, rather than structural, makeovers for your store as it permits greater flexibility and avoids the danger of a format being locked into a particular look, advised Lewis Allen, director of environment at London-based Portland Design.

  • Consider changes to the look and layout of your store, rather than trying to completely remodel the interiors, said James Tippman, CEO of US design consultancy FRCH.

  • Even existing mannequins could be refreshed: “Paint them a different colour and you have a whole new look,” suggested Denny Gerdeman, chief executive and co-founder of US design consultancy Chute Gerdeman.

  • The panellists also agreed that even when the recession has run its course the way in which store design is conducted will have undergone a permanent change — the trend to reuse, remix and revise will continue.

    February 2008

    Gearing up for golf

    Two of the biggest names in golf are associated with golf clothing ranges. BEVAN FRANK takes a look at whether the endorsement of high profile players like Ernie Els and Tiger Woods result in greater sales of golf clothing and shoes

    The world of golf is no longer just about golf: it is about high-end fashion and brand sophistication. Players and celebrities from all walks of life are getting involved by endorsing particular brands.

    Some major examples include Tiger Woods launching Nike as a golf brand, and the new Woodworm range of Ernie Els golf clothes to be launched early this year.

    It will be tough to find a marketing guru who does not believe that the marketing deal Nike signed with a young Tiger Woods was worth every cent of the estimated $105-m they are paying him. Clean cut, admired and ever-willing to make sponsor appearances, Woods is a sponsor’s dream. He immediately put Nike golf on the map.

    As this endorsement phenomenon continues to grow, the question arises as to whether the large amounts paid to stars for the use of their name can be justified by an increase in the sale of golf clothing and shoes.

    Marc Smith of Texas Peak, who will introduce SA golfers to the new 2008 Woodworm Ernie Els golf range at the Festival of Golf at Vodacom World of Golf at the end of February, has no doubt that it does.

    The new Ernie Els Collection was launched to a selected group of high profile golfers and celebrities during the Ernie Els Invitational at Fancourt in December.

    “Having Ernie’s name attached to the brand opened a door and an opportunity to expose the brand to the world’s best — for a new brand this type of exposure is priceless!” he says . At Fancourt the group of internationally successful business people, international sportsmen codes, some of the worlds top golfers and pro’s at some of the world’s Top Golf courses gave the range the thumbs up. They also contributed positive feedback on all aspects of both the Woodworm Premier collection and the Ernie Els Collection.

    A priceless opportunity.

    Particularly in golf, the stamp of approval by a big name player assists in highlighting and promoting an apparel range, says Smith. Els was, for example, intricately involved in the development of his signature collection — from fabric selection to style, cut, fit and colour. “If Ernie won’t wear it, it won’t make his collection!” he says.

    “His involvement will be an asset for the SA golfer as it means that the range had been thoroughly tried and tested. The garments have received the ultimate golfing stamp of approval. The SA golfer can be confident that the shirt will fit well and do what it is supposed to do when he makes the purchase.”

    The main focus of the range will be on golf shirts, but also extends into pants, shorts, sweaters and slipovers in a limited offering.There are two ranges — the Woodworm Premier Collection — priced for the average to high end golfer — and the Ernie Els Collection, “priced for the discerning golfer, those wanting a high end golf shirt as a souvenir or those wanting to wear what Ernie’s wearing.

    “The 2008 range is made in highly technical fabric called Swing Dry Body Mapping, which is moisture wicking and tailored to the golfers’ body, producing a more comfortable round for all those wearing the garments,” says Smith.

    Brett Bellinger, marketing director of Puma SA, believes that as far as player endorsements in the golfing world go, golfers are very aware of player endorsements and brands, and that it is no different to any other sport.

    “Player endorsements can make a difference to the average person who buys golf shoes and clothes, but other factors will always come into the buying decision,” he says.

    These include the brand name, price, style, technical quality of the product and the reputation of the manufacturer.

    “Golf fashion is seen as cool and this starts to become a major influencer especially with the younger golfing set,” says Bellinger.

    Puma recently announced that actor and avid golfer Luke Wilson and Puma golf star Johan Edfors are teaming up to create a special edition range of Puma golf products. The heritage-style range, which includes a women’s line, will be launched in April and July 2008

    While Ian Little of Capestorm agrees that the branding of players and their consequent endorsement of products does influence consumer purchasing decisions, he believes that peer pressure and recommendation from other players play a bigger role.

    “Although golf is generally an individual sport, the environment of the golf course and clubhouse leads to a high level of interaction between players,” he says. “This leads to the desire to be seen in the right brand. A new brand’s challenge is to overcome this barrier to entry. When Capestorm entered the golf market we had to emphasize the technical aspects and quality of our clothing.With the introduction of technical fabrics golfers have become much more selective in their choice of apparel.”

    He believes beginners will be more likely to be drawn to products endorsed by recognised and respected players, as they will create trust in those products. The top end player, on the other hand, will have much more technical knowledge and will therefore be aware of the performance benefits of top end apparel and equipment and will be prepared to pay for the small result improvements that this might elicit.”

    These players are also not so price conscious as athletes in other markets and will therefore be more likely to pay for quality.

    Aug/ Sept 2009

    Golf shirts:
    Missed opportunities?

    Most SA men own at least one golf shirt — although most of them would not be golf players. Golfers are popular casualwear items worn to the office, for recreation and yes, also on the golf course. Yet, few sport stores stock branded golf shirts, not even one’s that do well with surfwear. NICOL DU TOIT asks the question: are sport stores missing out on a lucrative market?

    During recent research into the South African golf apparel market Sports Trader did for Sporting Goods Intelligence*, it struck us that sports stores were losing out in terms of the distribution of golf branded golf shirts (i.e. branded with a golf brand such as Ping, Cutter & Buck, Grand Slam, Birdi, etc. and not a sports brand such as NIKE or Puma, or unbranded). The golf specialist retail chains, together with the on-course pros and the corporate/promotional channel, distributed over 90% of the shirts, with the rest shared between fashion stores and sports shops.

    Why should this be so? If surf brands are performing so well in sports outlets, why not golf? If anything, more people regard golf as a “proper” sport rather than surfing. Besides, golf shirts are worn by just about every SA man as casualwear and should therefore be lucrative stock items for sport stores.

    “Not so”, says Jaap Engelbrecht of Somerset Sports. They stocked golf products for many years until The Pro Shops started impacting on their sales. When that happened they decided that rather than stocking a limited range of golf products they would not stock golf at all, not even balls or shoes. They prefer to concentrate on other sports and rather allocate the available shelf space there.

    Anton Klopper of Kloppers in Bloemfontein has the same all or nothing philosophy. He says that this development was also encouraged by the distributors. “A well known sports brand refused to supply me with their golf range because they did not regard Kloppers as a “proper” golf outlet,” he adds, “I need the space for other merchandise.”

    Surf brands are doing well in both those outlets. “For one thing, they are much more fashionable than golf brands and more affordable,” says Klopper. “Golf brands have an older and more expensive image”.

    Engelbrecht says he can’t recall when last he saw a representative of one of the golf brands. “Now it is too late to try, because we made up our minds”, he says.

    But, it seems that the picture changes when the distance from the sports shop target market to the nearest Pro Shop or Golfers Club increases.

    Henry Engelbrecht of Boland Sports in Worcester confirms that golf is an important line for him. He sells as much golf wear as surf wear, but surf is for the younger and more fashionable customer. In golf he concentrates on the entry to mid range price categories. He says, “Remember that in the cities they sell to the Menere while we in the platteland sell to the Ooms. They are more conservative, price conscious and less brand conscious.”

    He says that he finds that if his customers want a higher priced item they will buy it during their excursions to the city, or often he sources the product for them at a competitive price. In many cases he’ll get the product to them earlier than they would get it if they wait for their next trip to the city.

    Willie Lineveldt of Topline Sports in Welkom agrees. Golf is important to him and he stocks a comprehensive range. He even offers an in-house embroidery service and does a lot of embroidery of the golf club’s logo onto golf shirts. He also stocks a range of hardwear. “It is not comprehensive”, he says, “but I often source higher end clubs for customers who know what they want.”

    As far as golf shirts are concerned, he stocks sports branded and unbranded, but not golf branded. “Golf branded shirts are not as fashionable as the sports branded shirts, and more expensive. In any case, I never see an agent from the golf shirt brands,” he says, “Perhaps it is too easy just having to call at the two major golf chains.”

    Andrew Robinson of Leisure Brands, a distributor specialising in golf trousers and shirts, branded caps and golf accessories handling Grand Slam, Jack Nicklaus, Ping, Izod, Scotford and Country Club, agrees that the golf brands are normally perceived to be too expensive, especially by the smaller town retailer. But he says that is a wrong perception. “Golf brands are not more expensive than the sports brands,” he says.

    Jo Bartram of Global Golf, another specialist golf distributor handling well-known brands such as Cutter & Buck, Ahead, Oscar Jacobson and Rhode Island, agrees with Robinson. “We have brands in various price points and even within some of our brands we can compete with the sports brands across all price points,” she says.

    She says that in the city areas golfers generally patronise the two major golf retailers and the on-course outlets and consequently prefer buying there. This probably makes the sports retailer more reluctant to stock the golf brands. Furthermore, golf brands are lesser known than the large sports brands amongst consumers as well as retailers. “This again makes it more difficult to get shelf space in sports outlets,” she says.

    The golf shirt industry in SA is almost like a cottage industry, adds Robinson. It is so small in terms of the number of buyers. “We tried them in Stuttafords and Edgars (activewear department), but they did not sell through. It makes you reluctant to try other types of outlets,” he says and adds, “you have to be considerate to the retailer as well. You can’t expect him to end up with stock that he can’t sell.”

    He also admits that reps might not be calling at the sports shops. “Or it could be that they have been chased away too often,” he says.

    A golf shirt is one of the few clothing items that still has a gender bias when bought as casualwear – few women who do not play golf would wear a golf shirt to work or the cinema like their male colleagues. This might explain why golf shirts don’t do well in department stores mainly frequented by women. It therefore makes sense that sport stores, where men feel comfortable shopping, should be able to sell a few golf shirts to their customers — even as an impulse sale.

    It definitely seems that there are opportunities being missed by golf branded apparel distributors not targeting sports shops, and by sports shops not targeting the golfer or more mature person that might be interested in paying something extra for a golf brand – or at least give him or her the choice of buying an unbranded, sports branded or golf branded shirt the next time.

    It is a fact that in some outlets golf wear is doing very well - so it makes sense to add more choice in the range. And it might be useful to have a look at the golf branded ranges again. Maybe the perception is wrong and the price points might suit your target market.

    Keep in mind that it is not only golfers that buy golf shirts. Most people that buy golf shirts have never touched a golf club. You don’t have to offer them other golf products to attract them into the shop.

    *Sporting Goods Intelligence is a European business-to-business publication for the sport and outdoor industries that is available on subscription. They also publish research reports, like the one on the golf apparel market, for which Sports Trader covered the SA market. If you are interested in buying the golf research report from Sporting Goods Intelligence, contact Nicol du Toit on Tel: 021 461 2544 or and we’ll do enquiries for you.

    August / September 2008

    Great Skates!

    BEVAN FRANK takes a spin on his skateboard to explore in which direction the skateboarding market is growing

    Is the SA skateboarding market “core” or “leisure”? There are the skateboarders who live, talk, breath and dress skateboarding culture. And then there are the leisure skateboarders who’ll occassionally use the board to travel from one point to another. But just how big exactly is the “core” market as opposed to the “leisure” market in South Africa, and is this distinction even necessary?

    “In my mind you either are a skateboarder or not,” says Chris Mostert, President of the National Skateboarding Association of SA.

    “Skateboarding encompasses so much more than just your skateboard. It’s a complete lifestyle. It’s something you live, breath, eat and sleep. Granted, there are kids that dabble in skateboarding for a period of time, but if they don’t really like it they will stop fairly soon after taking it up.

    “So, if you ask how big the skateboarding scene in SA is, I can say that it’s reasonably big. The greatest thing is that it’s growing at a very healthy rate, and not just in SA, but the whole of Africa.”

    According to Ross Painter of Sport Unlimited, a high percentage of people buy skateboards just to play around — some of them then become really good skateboarders.

    “The majority of the kids that start skating subscribe to the whole skate culture — including skate apparel and footwear,” says Painter. “In Johannesburg there are a lot more skate facilities for events etc., so far more kids participate in events as opposed to Cape Town where there is almost no skate facilities and hence little participation in organised events.”

    Markku Fleischmann of Dragons Sports believes that the leisure market dominates during the peak season. “But, as a culture, the core part keeps on growing. Like countries overseas that promote skating by supplying concrete skate parks, we can have a boom in this sport if we get opportunities like that,” he believes.

    But, even core skaters don’t need to participate in competitions.

    “You’ll find more “free” skaters around,” says Fleischmann. “It’s all about living it, not competing for it. Most of them you’ll find in the streets!”

    Skatepark events

    How many skateboarders actually participate in events?

    Mostert reckons there are on average 40-70 entries for the professional events and about the same in amateur events. The ages are between 11-25 in both divisions.

    “Age has nothing to do with the level you can compete at,” says Mostert. “We have had 14 year olds win professional events against twenty somethings.”

    Painter believes that the age range is even wider: 8-26 years and says that some events in Johannesburg and Durban attract more than a hundred participants.

    “The big names in competitions are in their 30’s,” says Fleischmann. “Overseas we have a few diehards in their 40’s. It’s difficult to say how many take part in skatepark events. It can be anything between 10-60 depending on the location and the prep work before hand.”

    The question arises as to whether skateboarders are concentrated in areas where there are skateparks or whether most of them are street skaters.

    Although there can sometimes be a high concentration of kids in skateparks in Durban and Johannesburg, it seems that kids prefer to take to skating the streets in Cape Town and other parts of the country where there are no, or few skateparks. “Kids tend to take to the streets,” Fleischmann reiterates. “Then again, that’s where it all started!”

    Mostert states that skateboarders always skate street, even when there is a skatepark close to them. “Part of skateboarding culture is to find new spots and explore new places, so most skateboarders travel.”

    The culture

    So, what do the “core” participants look for in a skateboarding products? Do they opt for authentic skate brands or do they choose something different?

    Mostert stresses that skateboarders support companies that support their culture.

    For example, although not strictly a skate brand, Converse, which has a long and legitimate street culture heritage, is a sponsor partner of the SA National Skateboarding Association.

    “Skateboarders look for something that represents who they are and what they believe in,” says Mostert. “For example, if Mr. Price brings out skateboarding products most skateboarder will see that as a threat,” says Mostert.

    Painter points out that the skate brands always have a different offering. “Skaters generally don’t want commercial brands that one can find everywhere,” Painter explains. “They want brands that are edgy and almost exclusive and that are core to the sport.”

    Fleischmann states that core skaters go with something they know and that is tested. “Your leisure skaters/novices that started with their transition to core, tend to buy expensive goods without proper help and can end up with something that doesn’t suit them.”

    Products and Brands are Important

    Painter often gets enquiries from non-skateboarders about skateboarding shoes and clothing to be worn as fashion items. “This is because the product/brand is fresh and not mainstream. There is a huge push towards people wanting brands that are exclusive. People want fresh things! People don’t want to be walking through a mall and see 6 or 7 people wearing the same top!”

    Fleischmann agrees. “Many soft good sales are for non-skaters. Look at the modern surfing industry. There you see brands like Billabong, Quiksilver and O’Neil all over the place. Take a closer look at skate clothing and you’ll see that you can’t get much better quality than that.”

    What exactly do the “leisure” participants look for when buying products? Do they want proper brands, or do they just ask for a skateboard they like?

    It is true that people often buy a product when they see it being used by someone else. “When it comes to people that are just going to buy a board to use now and again you will find they will often buy the board that they have seen somebody else skate,” says Mostert. “Especially if they have seen a professional person using a certain board, shoe, watch and even T-shirt.”

    “People who are just starting out generally become brand orientated through influence of friends etc. that have introduced them to the sport,” Painter points out. “Kids are getting more brand orientated from a young age. No one wants to be seen as “uncool” amongst their friends. The young kids, i.e. 5-8, are generally unaware of brands and pick their board on colour and graphics. Skate boards always have good graphics on!”

    Many leisure clients know which products are core, but are not willing to pay that much. “Keep in mind that your leisure buyer can buy a cheaper skate set-up so that there is enough funds left for good shoes and strong pants that can handle the abrasive nature of the sport,” says Fleischmann.

    Skateboarding into the Future

    “Skate boarding at retail has gone through cycles for the last 10 years or so,” says Painter. “In Cape Town it is strong the one year and dead the next. In Johannesburg it’s remained stable. However, in the last 3 years or so skating has become very consistent and continues to grow.

    “There are now a lot more brands in the SA skate industry than ever before and more money behind it than what there was in the past due to the involvement of skate brands. Skating has definitely established its roots well and is definitely here to stay. I see skate products continuing to grow from strength to strength.”

    “As long as there are kids, there will be a demand,” Fleischmann states. “It’s how we use it. Shops can only sell so much. Add skateparks and the demand will grow rapidly. Skateparks are not only safe and give peace of mind to parents, but it gives the skaters, be it leisure or core, the chance to express themselves.”

    Mostert believes that SA and the rest of Africa are going to see the whole industry explode in the next two years.

    He represents Africa on the International Skateboarding Federation and has been working with countries like Uganda, Kenya, Botswana and many more on events and associations. “There is so much room for growth in Africa and the development of skateboarding has been awesome,” he says. “We are also starting to make a name for ourselves in the international industry. So, in a nutshell we are very positive about what is happening in skateboarding in SA and Africa.”

    June 2008

    Hiking boots: favourite features

    Like in all other footwear styles, hiking boot fashions and fancies also change from time to time. MARK JOHNSTON gives an overview of the current favourite features of hiking boot customers

    What are today’s hikers looking for in a boot? Same things they’ve always looked for: comfort, support, durability and grip.

    What’s changed?

    People have just become more discerning. They’re no longer content to hike the Otter Trail in a pair of leather clodhoppers with tyre-tread soles and red laces. Nope, they want boots that are lightweight, waterproof, breathable... and trendy.

    The good news for retailers is that there’s oodles of choice in terms of brands, models and features. More choice, in fact, then we’ve ever seen before in SA.

    The challenge – as always – is to have the right spread of products on your shelves. And one of the keys to nailing this is to have an up-to-date understanding of the latest trends and technologies.

    Cutting The Kilos

    “One of the biggest trends right now is the shift to lighter footwear,” says Kennith Barlow, merchandise manager at Cape Union Mart.

    Simply put, hikers don’t want to be weighed down by heavy, cumbersome boots if they can find something much lighter that can do the same job. Manufacturers have responded with a string of new lightweight models.

    Hi-Tec’s V-Lite range is already well established in the market; Karrimor have their X-Lite series and Salomon their Revo Light series.

    We’ve also seen new lightweight models from niche mountain brands such as La Sportiva (with the Halite boot) and Montrail (with their aptly-named Helium boot).

    How are these companies cutting the kilos?

    Simple: through the use of new lightweight synthetic fabrics for the uppers, combined with lighter composites in the outer sole and midsole.

    How do these boots measure up against more traditional leather models?

    That’s more tricky to answer.

    Manufacturers obviously try to make them as hard-wearing as possible, either through the use of abrasion-resistant fabrics such as Cordura, or by covering them in a protective mesh, such as Karrimor’s Fine Moulding.

    Sounds good for hiking, but the feedback from the guys in the field is that if the customer is planning some serious mountain stomping then a sturdy leather boot is still a good bet.

    Just Like Running Shoes?

    It seems some hikers want to reduce weight even more, hence the growing popularity of low-cut hiking boots (which retain the grippy sole and protective uppers of a normal boot, but without the raised ankle support). More recently, there’s been a noticeable shift towards even lighter footwear for hiking.

    Says Reebok’s Zhivanni Marais: “People are definitely buying running shoes to hike in.” Not road running shoes, mind.

    Models such as Reebok’s Trail Divider GTX, which boasts the same excellent cushioning as their road shoes, but with more support, greater foot protection and extra-grippy soles for use in an off-road environment.

    These are good for shorter hikes on good paths, but on multi-day trails, where people have to shoulder heavy backpacks and often traverse rough, uneven terrain — a full-sized boot with decent ankle support is still recommended.

    His and Hers

    Another strong trend, says Barlow, is the demand for female-specific hiking boots. Ladies, it seems, have narrower feet and a higher arch than men, and all the major manufacturers have stepped up to the plate and developed dedicated women’s models. The fact that these boots fit better – and therefore feel more comfortable – is obviously the big selling point here; however, some brands have made their products even more attractive by introducing more feminine colourways.

    Proper Support

    Of course, comfort isn’t just determined by how the boots feel when you pull them on in the shop.

    A well-designed boot should provide sufficient cushioning and support to ensure your feet are still smiling at the end of the day’s hiking. “Proper arch support is critical,” explains Eric Riemann of Adventure Inc. “When you walk your arches flex, acting like a natural shock absorber. But if the muscles in your feet are unfit or become tired, the arches flatten out, putting additional strain on the rest of your body.”

    With this in mind manufacturers have put much R&D into the design of the midsole. The result? Multi-density footbeds that use softer foam in high-impact zones such as the heel, and firmer, more supportive compounds under the arch.

    Taking the Knock

    Italian manufacturer La Sportiva have gone one step further with their Impact Break System (IBS), which they claim improves comfort even more through innovative new shock-absorbing technology in the outsole. Yup, that’s right — the outsole.

    How does it work?

    Where normal rubber soles have rigid lugs for grip, the IBS lugs have been designed to shift backwards gently as they touch the ground. This lateral motion, although small, absorbs some of the impact energy, reducing the knock on your feet and knees.

    Beating the Elements

    There’s no doubt about it: South Africans are becoming more adventurous when it comes to hiking. The Fish River Canyon? Yawn. These days the campfire conversation inevitably drifts to Kilimanjaro. The Inca Trail. Everest Base Camp.

    The result is a need for more hardcore boots that can withstand the cold and wet conditions associated with these more extreme destinations.

    For many years the Gore-Tex label was the benchmark for a boot that was guaranteed weatherproof.

    More recently, we’ve seen the arrival of products such as eVent, which also use a waterproof, breathable membrane, but don’t carry such a premium cost.

    But, the hot new arrival of 2008 has to be Hi-Tec’s new ion-mask technology.

    The upside of a lucrative and expanding hiking boot market is obvious: new technologies, new brands, new models. The risk is that retail staff are unable to keep up with the pace.

    It is one thing stacking a shelf with the latest and greatest products... having knowledgeable staff that can help the customer select the right boot for the job is also essential.

    February 2004

    How to profit from air rifle scopes

    Nowadays, the law allows any sport or outdoor retailer to stock smaller air rifles and accessories without a license. This enables him to attract a different type of customer to his store. Two experts explain to NICOL DU TOIT what a general retailer should know in order to profit from stocking air rifle scopes

    South Africa has experienced a boom in air rifle sales since the Arms and Ammunition Act was amended at the beginning of 2002 to remove the necessity of acquiring a licence for the 0.177 inch (or 4,5mm) calibre air rifles.

    Embattled firearm enthusiasts turned to air rifles to pursue their hobby. Retailers who sell air rifles also do not need to be licensed as firearms dealers and opportunities have therefore opened up for sport and outdoor retailers to add air rifles and accessories to the range of products they offer. Retailers who stock these products can attract a different type of customer and therefore additional feet through their stores.

    Air rifle scopes is one of these accessory categories that general retailers can add to their stock ranges.

    "For retailers venturing into air rifle scopes for the first time it is important to play safe and select a reputable distributor selling a reputable brand," advises Jo van Lierde of VLT Arms, distributor of the Burris and Turbo ranges.

    "Find out whether there are guarantees, and exactly what is meant by the guarantee. How good is the quality control, not only of the factory, but also of the distributor?

    "Determine whether there is any after sales service. Ask about the quality of the components such as lenses. Where are the scopes manufactured? In most cases one will find that new manufacturers needs quite a long time to build up the required expertise."

    Low quality products could could result in customers returning faulty products. "Beware of buying a cheap product," concurs Rod Price of Ronden Arms, who are sole agents and distributors of BSA Scopes.

    "Don’t overstock, because technology changes fast," cautions Van Lierde. "Your customers are also educating themselves quickly and are very knowledgeable. They can’t be fooled. Stay in touch with them. Listen and learn from their experience."

    Spring action

    Contrary to what the layman might expect, a traditional spring action air rifle should not be fitted with a small and cheap scope. Price cautions that the unique reverse recoil of these rifles put more strain on a scope than fairly large calibre hunting rifles. He says: "If the scopes are not sufficiently shock resistant, the sensitive recticle can easily be damaged".

    Van Lierde agrees wholeheartedly and says that the method of construction as well as the materials used is of the utmost importance. "One should explain to consumers that they should not fit a cheap scope to this type of air rifle", he says. "It is important that scopes are properly constructed. For instance, I believe that it is a good investment to use a mono tube type of construction, wherever feasible, because it is more resistant to shock".

    It is important that the mounts be of a good quality to ensure that the scope stays in position and does not shift in the grooves. According to Van Lierde, cheap mounts can also cause damage to a scope during the fitment process, especially if fitted by a person with a lack of experience. "When scopes are mounted, the length of the rifle and the scope and the build of the owner should be kept in mind to ensure that the scope is positioned on the correct place on the receiver."

    Van Lierde says that the fierce recoil of the air rifle necessitates the use of scopes with longer eyerelief. "If users have to bring their eye very close to the scope they can experience a nasty blow to the eye during the recoil," he says.

    Rod Price points out that scopes should have adjustable objectives that focus down to 10 meters or less. "Air rifles are often shot at very short distances compared to other rifles. A scope designed to be used by other rifles, often cannot focus close enough to be compatible with air rifles", he says. According to Van Lierde, the parallax is also an area of concern. " Parallax should be set for a short distance such as 25 metres.

    The shorter the distance, the more important it is to be set correctly for parallax. Also keep in mind that the more powerful the magnification of the scope, the more noticeable parallax problems will be".

    Air rifles sales present a wonderful opportunity for retailers to extend their business, but similar to selling most other products, retailers should have a love for firearms and the shooting sport. A retailer selling air rifles should be an enthusiast, or become one, and actively involve himself with the sport in his area. This will present him with the opportunity of getting to know the potential customers, and to help them to enjoy the sport. Customers prefer to buy from someone who has helped them or gave them good advice in the past. This will also create opportunities to ensure growth in the sport, and consequently growth in their businesses.

    Terms and terminology

    Coated Lenses

    Coatings on lens surfaces reduce light loss and glare due to reflection and therefore ensure a brighter image.

    Eye Relief

    The distance a scope can be held away from the eye and still present the full field of view.

    Exit Pupil

    This is the size of the column of light that leaves the eyepiece of a scope. To compute the exit pupil size, divide the objective lens size by the magnification of the scope. The exit pupil should be as large as the human eye’s pupil under the same conditions. The pupil changes with change in the amount of light, making it large in low light and small in bright light.

    Field of View

    Field of view is expressed as the width of the viewing area as seen at 100 yards. A wide field of view makes it easier to spot game and track moving targets. Generally speaking, lower magnification scopes will have a larger field of view.


    The numbers on a scope represent the magnification and the objective lens size. The first set of numbers represent the magnification of the scope and the second number the size of the objective lens. For instance, 4 x 40 means that the scope has 4 times magnification and an objective lens size of 40mm. If a scope is marked as 3 – 9 x 40 it means that it has a zoom lens from 3 times magnification to 9 times magnification and a 40mm objective lens.

    Objective lens

    This is the lens furthest from the eye. Larger objective lenses gather more light, resulting in a clearer view and better resolution. They do not increase magnification.

    Ocular Lens

    The lens closest to your eye.


    Parallax is the distortion seen when the image of the target is not focused precisely on the reticle plane. Parallax is visible as an apparent movement between the reticle and the target when the shooter moves his head from left to right or up and down.

    Windage and Elevation Adjustments

    The windage and elevation adjustments affect accuracy. The windage adjustment alters the left to right movement of the scope and can usually be adjusted on the side turret of the scope. The elevation adjustment alters the up and down movement of the scope and can usually be adjusted on the top turret of the scope.

    Feb/ Mar 2009

    The year ahead: 2 International views on retail

    (1) Group buying the face of the future

    During ispo Winter, held in Munich in February, a panel of prominent retail experts discussed the future of retailing, reports NICOL DU TOIT
    The panellists were:
  • Dr Christoph Wildhaber, CEO of the Swiss Franchise Association

  • Dr Steffen Stremme, entrepreneur

  • Wolfgang Schnellbügel, CEO of Sport 2000, representing more than 3 500 retailers in 25 countries

  • Franz Julen, CEO of IIC-Intersport, a buying group that purchases for about 5 000 retailers in 35 countries

  • Moderator Robbert de Kock, Secretary General of the World Federation of Sporting Goods Industries

  • A few years ago, a panel discussing the future of retailing would have concluded that large, integrated, warehouse-type discount store groups like Decathlon was the future face of retailing… the last few years have shown that the future lay in individual stores, particularly as part of a franchise (or buying group), which offers the best of both worlds, says Franz Julen, CEO of IIC-Intersport, the purchasing arm of the Intersport buying group.

    “The individual store owner will always outperform the chain manager — it is his own investment that is at stake,” said Julen. “Even if performance bonuses are given to the chain manager, it will not have the same effect.

    The franchise concept, however, gives the individual entrepreneur the opportunity to get support from a large organisation, whilst taking little or no freedom away, he added.

    Wolfgang Schnellbügel of Sport 2000 agreed — but cautioned that the “McDonald’s” concept of franchising, where the branding and product offering of every store is 100% the same, will not work in the sports industry. An individual store must be allowed to adapt to its specific market, he stressed.

    The franchise concept supports the owner, as he gets the benefit of better prices, administration support, logistics systems, marketing, etc, added Dr Christoph Wildhaber of the Swiss franchise association. “But he must still be allowed to differentiate himself. The individual store owner will, on the other hand, find it difficult to survive. He does not have the time to devote to all the different functions he has to perform.”

    In answer to a question about the role house brands will play in the future, Julen answered that their own house brand was quite successful, but sports stores will always have to carry well known sports brands. “A house brand is never advertised as well as a well-known brands and consequently it can never compete with a recognised brand. It has to be an entry level brand.”

    Dr Stefen Stremme agreed and said that the customer always demand choice and therefore an individual store has to stock the largest variety that their floor space will carry. “If you cannot carry a wide choice of product, you must specialise more. You must become the best in your area in your selection.

    “Today’s customer comes to the shop after having researched the product well. Tomorrow’s customer will even be more so. Very little information is available on house brands, but lots on well known brands.”

    Stremme stressed that private labels can only be carried successfully by large integrated chain stores such as Decathlon, who has set that as a specific strategy.

    The discussion then turned to single brand stores. The general feeling was that many customers get so hooked on one brand that they want to have the largest possible range of only one brand to choose from. The other panellists agreed and said that they did not have a problem with brand concept stores.

    The same could not be said of factory outlets. Julen said that factory outlets teaches the consumer that he only needs to postpone his buying decision by six months and get the item he wanted for a much reduced price. It is much better for brands to sell their ranges through the retailers until the whole range is sold out.

    Some other future trends mentioned:

    People over the age of 50 are steadily becoming a larger part of the population. They have spending power and they spend more on their health and fitness. The days are gone when sports stores only catered for the best athletes.

    More and more customers are also regularly taking part in more than one sport.

    Customers are going to the trouble of educating themselves about the available products from easily accessed sources such as the internet. The person serving them must ensure that he is better educated.

    Women will increasingly play a bigger role in buying sports products, to the extend that the trade needs to devote dedicated stores to them.

    Individual owners might have to encourage other specialist sport stores to open near them. Space is at a premium, and if the owner’s store specialises in one sport or activity and the customer requires something else, he can be referred to a nearby shop.

    As far as the immediate future and the state of the world economy is concerned, the consensus was that sports stores will not be as badly effected as other businesses. It will still be tough, however. And in tough times you have to work hard at removing unnecessary costs, but needs to spend more on advertising to draw more feet through the shop.

    (2) Five ways to beat the downturn

    We asked the chairman of the International Retail Advisory Board, IAN MCGARRIGLE (right), for five suggestions on how retailers can remain profitable in difficult times
  • Get closer to your customer than ever before — make sure you are talking to them, analysing what they are buying and what they are not buying. It is clear that consumers do still have money but are extremely reluctant to spend unless it is a product they need or are excited by, but equally only at the right price. You have to know and understand what that is;

  • Manage stock levels — for obvious reasons! Skilled buyers are more important than ever before. Getting them to buy the right amount and get it into the stores at the right time is absolutely crucial. And they can get the products and the prices that give you your point of difference.

  • How do you make your stores more enticing? At a time when the greatest need would seem to be to cut costs, the biggest danger is allowing that to show in your stores. Shoppers will still respond to a good looking store with attractive layouts.

  • How well are you doing on-line? The fact is that around the world, it is one of the fastest growing areas of retailing. It is how shoppers today increasingly want to shop or browse, or compare prices. If you aren’t as advanced as your competition, it is probably time that you caught up — fast!

  • Stay optimistic! Hard to do in this current climate but talking to veteran retailers, their belief is that there has probably never been a time of such change which leads to enormous opportunities for those prepared to seize them. Take care of all the basic things that drive the business and this will allow you to see the bigger picture and go for all the opportunities that present themselves.

  • Aug/ Sept 2009

    Make 2010 work for you

    Judging by the short and vigorous spectacular we put on at the opening of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, we are going to WOW the world when they visit us in 2010. Are you as a retailer going to make sure that you share in the excitement and make the 2010 FIFA World Cup work for you?

    There are less than 300 days before the Kick-Off to the 2010 World Cup — and the chance to reap some of the many benefits South Africans have been promised when we were awarded the hosting.

    And there are many ways one CAN benefit without breaking the special event law that protects the exclusive marketing rights of FIFA’s licensees.

    From discussions with sour-faced prejudiced international journalists before the opening of the 2009 FIFA Confederations Cup, it will not only be the Local Organising Committee (LOC) that will be on trial when the international tourists arrive (and since so many have already bought tickets, they WILL arrive). They will come to judge all of us in SA — and many will be harsh in their already biased judgements.

    But we have the chance to show them that they are wrong and that we offer much. For example:

  • We have a retail industry that can compete with the best of the world — and is probably more vibrant than many others in the rest of the world. With every international visitor walking into your store, you could be an ambassador for your country. The pleasant retail experience he’ll have, may just encourage him or her to return for a future visit;

  • Apart from offering memorable service, your staff could try and familiarise themselves with the countries that will be represented here, so that they will be able to add a relevant comment once they find out where the customer comes from — especially of the matches played or teams hosted in your area. At least tell your staff where the big World Cup stars hail from!

  • Greet customers appropriately — the volunteers working at the Confederations Cup were extremely friendly, but the one greeting visitors with a kiss would not have endeared himself to the reserved European visitors.

  • Show your support for the World Cup — apart from supporters’ shirts of the qualifying teams, there is a long, long list of all kinds of 2010 merchandise available that could serve as impulse purchases for tourists.

  • Show visitors what we in SA have on offer in terms of local manufactured goods — but also memorable sporting moments. Many of them will not be aware that we excel in other sports, even if our soccer is not on par.

  • Make your staff aware of the benefits of the World Cup spin-offs for the country so that they could show a genuine enthusiasm when talking about the event: for one, all the development programmes around soccer will eventually bear fruit as participants in the game buy equipment. Think about the artificial surface fields built, the Football for Hope programme, our Sport Science Institutes getting world accreditation...

  • How retailers can win with Bafana Bafana

    The Bafana Bafana supporter badges are sure to be a winning stock item as they offer exceptional margins, are easy to merchandise, they do not take up much space and are bound to sell well as they’ll retail for around R10. There are 17 different designs — the appealing Diski mascot is featured in nine lighthearted poses, while eight feature the Bafana Bafana logo or colours. Fans would therefore be likely to buy cards holding several badges.

    A stand is provided with a minimum order – or can be purchased for under R100 – making them ideal point of sale items that are sure to generate plenty of last minute impulse sales.

    While interest is sure to be escalating as we get closer to the 2010 FIFA World Cup, Bafana Bafana support will continue way beyond the event… especially if our team does well. “Imagine if all the Fridays till the World Cup are proclaimed ‘Bafana Friday’ and company personnel as well as ordinary individuals wear a yellow cap, shirt or even yellow veldskoene! Or, at the very least, a Button Badge. Imagine how that will unite our country behind Bafana Bafana!” says Louise Bruce of Badges Unlimited, a Pretoria manufacturer who was awarded the license to manufacture the Bafana Bafana badges.

    ”Button Badges are not just button badges anymore,” adds Kevin Bruce. “We make 10 different sizes and shapes and we have up to 11 different ways to fasten the badges, from purse mirrors to bottle openers and key-rings.

    “We take pride in our contribution to the environment and produce our own components made from recycled aluminum — making our 58mm badges uniquely lightweight and rust-resistant.”

    Contact Badges Unlimited on Tel: 012 998 5096.

    February 2008

    New adventures, new challenges

    BEVAN FRANK dons his outdoor gear and tries to keep up with the new challenges offered by extreme, trail and adventure races. The stock demands of these races crosses the barrier between outdoor and sport

    Worldwide, trail running is growing in popularity as well as participants. Last year, three times more trail races were organised internationally than in 2000 and 44% more runners participated in events.

    "Participation in trail running events is definitely growing in SA as well, as it is a safe alternative to road running and cycling," says Katharine Tromp, promotions manager for New Balance, who is involved with organising various trail events. "It attracts participants as it incorporates a sense of adventure and can include the whole family. And it makes for a more scenic workout."

    On South African shores trail runners are not only gaining on road runners in numbers, but ever-bigger challenges are spread before them, enticing them to run along the spectacular slopes of Table Mountain, over rocks along the shipwreck coastline, through barren desert or through lush Cape Winelands … even among the elephants in Addo.

    Off-road runners now have a multitude of choices: from the informal get-togethers organised by clubs, schools and corporate companies to a multitude of organised events.

    The latter vary from midweek events like the Summer Trail Series or New Balance and Mr Price Celtic Trail runs, the shorter weekend trail runs like the Table Mountain Challenge, Old Fisherman’s Trail Challenge, the night runs, like the Petzl Adventure Nights, to more challenging races like the 90km Puffer across Table Mountain or 100km through the Addo Elephant Park, to multi-sport events like the TotalSports Challenge and DueSouth Xterra sponsored by New Balance, and then the most challenging, the gruelling extreme adventure races demanding endurance and a multitude of skills like the Bull of Africa or Swazi Extreme.

    Bridging the gap between trail running and adventure racing is the extreme trail run.

    Extreme trail

    The home of trail running is the Western Cape, says Harald Zumpt, supplier of Polar monitors, a sponsor of the Cape Odyssey. "This is due to the events and partially due to the environment. Brands need to create the events to grow the sport in other parts of the country to ultimately grow trail running as a sport nationally."

    The Western Cape plays host to both the Cape Odyssey and the RAW Africa multiday stage races. The inaugural Cape Odyssey, a team trail race run in stages, was held in October last year along the Cape Coast and Winelands. In this five-day trail extravaganza of 211km, the runners participated in teams of two, following a concept perfected by the Cape Epic cycle stage race.

    In the RAW Africa, adventurous runners start in Cape Infanta and run across 250km of tough coastal terrain around the Southern most tip of Africa. The five-day event, held in April, is part of a world series and is described as "the most extreme foot series in the world".

    This year, the ninth Augrabies marathon will be run over 7 days in October through 550km of the Kalahari desert and is considered by many to be the ultimate in extreme trail runs.

    The next Cape Epic?

    Bennie Botes, brand manager of Salomon SA, sponsor of the Cape Odyssey, is excited about the future of these extreme events. "Look what the Cape Epic did for mountain biking," he says. "The Cape Odyssey has the same organisers with the same winning recipe, format and venues.

    "In future, it will attract a combination of road runners — those that have done the Comrades and Two Oceans, and are looking for a new challenge — as well as your hard core adventure racers that will find this right up their alley, as well as experienced trail runners that will see this event as the highlight of the trail running calendar."

    Ian Little, marketing manager of Capestorm and one of the winners of the mixed category of the Cape Odyssey, is more cautious. According to him, running for 5 days is much more demanding than, for example, cycling for several days.

    "Therefore, although I can see this type of event growing, that growth might not be as significant as seen in the mountainbike world. The wear and tear on your legs and feet over five days running off-road will be a considerable factor for those considering these multi-day events."

    The team and multi-day running concept of the Odyssey adds a completely new dimension to the competition, says Leonard Rust, sales manager of Adventure Inc., distributor of Montrail footwear. The Odyssey combines elements of the Marathon des Sables, run in the Sahara desert where individual runners carry all their own equipment, adventure racing and fully catered for events, to maximise spectator value, he says.

    The demands of the race is therefore not likely to appeal to your average runner.

    Multi-sport and adventure races

    On the other hand, the challenges offered by a tough competition like the Cape Odyssey is attracting multi-sport athletes who find the Epic hard to get into and costly, says Dawid Visser of Asics, well-known as a triathlete.

    "Adventure racing as well as extreme trail running is a growing area in the sports market as runners are especially looking for new challenges in going off-road,"he says. "Getting down and dirty makes running so much more interesting and you have so many different options in areas to go explore than your usual concrete jungle training route."

    Conversely, the increased interest in extreme trail running could increase interest in adventure racing, which requires participants to navigate and use various forms of locomotion (i.e. feet, bike, ropes, etc.) — demands that could be off-putting to the novice adventure racers, says Little.

    "However, for the extreme trail runner, who can see the advantages of running in beautiful, but very demanding conditions, it is a smaller step to make the jump from extreme trail running to adventure racing."

    The interest in the revived Bull of Africa, a 12-day 550km adventure race over rugged Eastern Cape mountains, through mangrove swamps and along the Transkei coastline planned for August this year, and the Swazi Extreme (in May), which requires participants to navigate a route across high mountains and through forests by running, cycling and abseiling, attest to this.

    "These events demand a huge amount from competitors, are well organised and draw the best adventure racers from around the world," says Little.

    According to Rust the Swazi Extreme has a long history of being one of the best and hardest races in the country. "The Bull of Africa is South Africa’s only true international event, and will probably again take the mantle as South Africa’s premier race."

    Botes says that the Bull (also sponsored by Salomon) will be the adventure race of 2008. It forms part of the international Adventure Racing Circuit and has already attracted more than 60, mostly international, teams of four.

    April 2007

    One shot can boost (or brake) sales

    An event like the Cricket World Cup stimulates interest in cricket during the off-season — but does this translate into sales of cricket equipment? FANIE HEYNS spoke to several suppliers and specialist retailers found that one shot can make a difference to sales — for better or worse

    It is amazing what one shot can do.

    It terminated South Africa’s World Cup chances in 2003 and cricket sales dropped virtually overnight.

    South Africa was on course to reach the Super Six phase when they played Sri Lanka in Durban on the 4th of March 2003.

    Mark Boucher, in a late, desperate attempt to improve the run rate and put South Africa ahead of Sri Lanka in terms of the Duckworth/Lewis method when rain intervened, smashed a six off Muttiah Muralitharan.

    According to the ball-by-ball calculations, Boucher’s six took South Africa ahead of Sri Lanka with one ball remaining in the 45th over. He tapped the final ball of the 45th over to mid-wicket, without seeking a run, with the score on 229/6. The umpires then decided the rain was too heavy to continue.

    That final delivery from Muralitharan increased the par total from 228 to 229 and the match therefore ended in a tie.

    That sent Sri Lanka to the top of the table and put South Africa out of the tournament.

    That gentle tap by Boucher was the shot that ended South Africa’s World Cup hopes.

    Three years later, Boucher was the centre of attraction again, on 12 March 2006 as South Africa needed a run to beat Australia with two deliveries remaining. Boucher slammed a boundary over mid-on off Brett Lee to send the Wanderers-crowd into exhilaration as the Proteas scored 438/9 to win the series-decider fifth One-Day International against the world’s best team in what is still described as the greatest one-day game ever played.

    It is not correct to suggest that Boucher’s boundary resurrected cricket sales in the country, but sales did soar after that series-clinching shot.

    It is amazing what one shot can do.

    A year later, Herschelle Gibbs needed a six off the last delivery by the occasional leg-spinner Daan van Bunge to achieve a world record of six sixes in one over in a One Day International at the Cricket World Cup of 2007.

    Gibbs smashed the hapless Dutch bowler over deep mid-wicket and into the pavilion at Warner Park in Basetterre in St Kitts to create a new interest for cricketing products in South African shops.

    One shot...

    Performance and sales

    Mike Hermanson of Cricket Horizons, a specialist cricket shop in Fourways, Johannesburg, says there were many reasons for the poor sale of cricket equipment in SA in 2003.

    One of them was that South Africa was dumped out of the Cricket World Cup early, which affected the whole vibe and people lost interest. "As has been demonstrated after the Ashes-victory by England in 2005, success creates interest and new customers develop overnight."

    Hermanson says: "Its human nature to want to belong. Replica clothing sales are the first sign of the potential. They lead the way. Young aspiring cricketers will blossom as the event takes its shape. Rushing off into the garden to bowl a few balls after a South African victory is what we all hope will happen to deepen awareness in cricket.

    "No doubt that a win for us in the Caribbean would offer us the best ever season in 2007/2008."

    Colin Farrer, sales director of LGB Distributors, says that in 2003 there was disappointment and a tad disillusionment after the Cricket World Cup in SA due to the hosts’ early dismissal at Kingsmead.

    Generally, the host nation should experience improved sales in replica material at a Cricket World Cup.

    On the other hand, there has been a huge upsurge in the sales of cricket equipment internationally during the past calendar year, even though there was no significant event to drive sales.

    "From a retail perspective, the increase has been dramatic. The traditional brands like Gunn & Moore, Gray-Nicolls, Kookaburra, Stuart Surridge and Slazenger have all had record years with us, while the new guys, Woodworm and Screaming Cats, have been phenomenal," says Hermanson.

    In the past season, LGB Distributors has surpassed all expectations with MRF, says Farrer. "This is mainly due to our own efforts in marketing the brand locally. I predict that next season will be even better."

    Does a World Cup boost sales?

    There are two schools of thought regarding the power of the World Cup to improve sales.

    The visibility of the World Cup and the fact that two legends like Brian Lara and Sachin Tendulkar play with the MRF-bat, would boost sales and build a brand like MRF, says Farrer.

    Cricket sales generally slow down at this time of the year (March and April), but with the World Cup being televised for more than a month at the Cricket World Cup, that will ensure that interest in cricket is revived, with sales expected to pick up in Gauteng as early as June, says Farrer.

    Steve Gallienne, director of Dunslaz Distributors, says the Cricket World Cup creates a slightly extended season and it influences youngsters who either continue to play in the nets or take up the sport for the first time.

    Retailers also tend to take a little more risk in stocking the shelves a while longer so you end up with hockey kicking off, but cricket continuing.

    "Memorabilia (during the Cricket World Cup) is a risky business and I think if you talk to any retailer, they generally burn at the end of the event as they have to drop pricing below cost to get them out of their stores," says Gallienne.

    "A World Cup in June (as was the case in 1999 in England) is better for us as it is in line with our season starting and can create a better buzz about cricket and influence players to start cricket or even re-enter the sport.

    "Pro 20 is generally a good thing for cricket all around. It was definitely something like 20/20 to get the crowds back into the stands and in turn create revenue for the stadium and sporting code of cricket."

    Gallienne says cricket is generally on the rise again, but it remains difficult to supply what the consumer is necessarily looking for as retailers struggle with space and budget to do justice to all brands.

    Nigel Prout of Opal Sport, supplier of the Gunn & Moore-bat, says the World Cup is generally good for cricket as a whole as it ensures that the game lasts almost twelve months a year.

    "Interest is good as long as South Africa does well — this in turn results in sales — both wholesale and retail."

    But, it will be difficult to gauge the influence on sales as most schools would be purchasing cricket equipment from August onwards, says Martin Ferreira, owner of Sportoria in Pretoria.

    A Cricket World Cup does, however, create heightened interest in the game.

    "Interest in memorabilia is good as long as SA performs — but in general the event would not have a huge effect on general cricket equipment sales," he says.

    But at local level the fact that four day cricket is finished, club cricket winding down and Pro 20 also concluded, means that most cricketers would not invest in new products.

    "Cricket normally launches in July in Gauteng and August in the Cape, and therefore I have my doubts whether next season’s cricket hardware would benefit much from the Cricket World Cup now," says Arnold de Villiers, merchandise executive of Sportsmans Warehouse. "The World Cup would, however, be good for replica-sales," he adds.

    There won’t be a big surge in retail sales, as hockey and rugby would be foremost in some people’s minds. "On the other hand, in the UK, where the season is just starting, cricket sales have been phenomenal," says Edward Lowy, MD of the Unicorn Group, owners of Gunn & Moore.

    Player influence

    The number and quality of cricketers playing with a specific brand in the national team would definitely have a direct influence on sales of that bat in the shops, adds Ferreira.

    That would depend, cautions De Villiers. The fact that Gibbs smashed those six sixes in one over won’t do the sales of Gunn & Moore any harm, but how many people would notice what brand of bat it was? he asks. "You don’t build a brand in one morning of frenetic batting action."

    But, the local high profile players would obviously inspire more sales, he adds. Also, larger than life cricketers or the flamboyant ones would sell bats even if they are from another country, like Ricky Ponting, Kevin Pietersen and Andrew Flintoff.

    "There is no doubt that Ricky Ponting sells bats all over the world," says Chris Bryant of JRT Crampton, local distributor of Kookaburra.

    The youngsters are very aware of the bats these top players use, says Lowy. "On the first day of the last test in the Ashes we even got calls from SA asking: what is the name of the bat Trescothic is playing with when he was sent out to bat with his new bat."

    SA’s series win against Australia in the ODI series in SA definitely had a positive spin-off on sales and influenced the next season, says Anne Vilas of Opal Sport.

    This is confirmed by Lowy, who says he was travelling at that stage, but was awakened by a phone call. "I couldn’t understand why the people in the UK would get so excited about a match played in SA, until I switched on the TV. We immediately had to send more bats to SA."

    (The three players who played a decisive role in this 438 ODI — Graeme Smith, Herschelle Gibbs and Mark Boucher — all play with Gunn & Moore).

    One shot changed the shape of things.

    Just imagine what a Cricket World Cup-deciding shot by a South African could do for the 2007/2008-season.

    June/ July 2009

    Outdoor footwear: The retail bestsellers

    Consumers are still spending money on outdoor footwear, a local research company found. CRAIG BOWEN of GfK Marketing Services SA* reports on the SA retail buying trends for outdoor footwear as revealed by point of sales statistics

    What does the average SA customer want when buying outdoor footwear? Genuine outdoor sports utility shoes, or lifestyle driven styles?

    The array of answers to this question is intriguing.

    Generally, the type of retail outlet would dictate who the targeted customer is, position itself, and structure the assortment and range according to the estimated needs and desires of the customer. Very few retail outlets can, however, keep their offering within rigid theoretical guidelines.

    The main reason for this is the impact of the outdoor lifestyle trend on consumer culture. From a practical point of view, seasonality also plays a major role in the peaks and troughs of the various types of outdoor footwear.

    GfK classifies six general types of outdoor footwear:

  • Technical hiking

  • Light hiking

  • Outdoor multi-functional

  • Outdoor sandals

  • Water shoes

  • Technical hiking, the smallest market of the six in pairs sold, can generally be found in specialist stores around SA.

    Light hiking has a wider distribution, appearing in various outdoor outlets, shoe shops and even the fashion chains.

    Outdoor multi-functional and outdoor sandals are the categories where most of the above mentioned overlap occurs, with outdoor lifestyle offerings in specialist stores, chains and fashion outlets.

    Water shoes are mainly supplied through sports stores and specialist chains.

    The total outdoor classified footwear market size for 2008 was estimated at some 450 000 pairs through all channels, including retail, direct sales and farmer’s co-ops.

    GfK tracked (Retail Market only) 356 000 pairs during the same year. This was up 4% from the 2007 number of 343 000 pairs.

    Considering that the average retail price across all types was R392 in 2008, that meant that the turnover of the retail sector was almost 1.4-bn in outdoor shoes alone.

    More recently, January to April comparisons between 2008 and 2009 show only a 1% growth in units sales, compared to an 8% growth in revenue.

    This means the slow-down on sales volumes have been counteracted by an increasing price trend, where revenues are thus showing signs of linear growth.

    Light hiking is well below last year’s levels and has had a difficult start to the year. These shoes normally sell in relatively higher price brackets — anywhere between R300–R1 000, but the April 2009 average was around R460, which is 10% higher than the April 2008 figure of R416. Light hikers tend to have a strong seasonality over the SA winter months.

    Outdoor multi-functional, in contrast, have done very well so far this year. Normally selling in a similar price point to light hiking, average prices have not moved up, staying around R515 for April 2008 and 2009.

    Seasonality in outdoor multi-functional is somewhat flatter, but still notable over winter, once again.

    Outdoor sandals, dominated by two main brands and some house labels, has an extreme seasonal trend towards the summer months and holiday seasons. Average prices for these styles have declined from R228 in April 2008, to R211 in 2009.

    Seasonal trends would indicate to some extent that the boots and shoes are being used for outdoor sport purposes.

    However, more and more indicators of shifts in lifestyle preference and choices will be the key for growing retail share and sales.

    A retailer’s total customer offering will need to encompass not only a rudimentary outdoor image and brand salience of footwear, but the total packaged outdoor lifestyle offering, reinforced through retail positioning, store layout, fitting, pricing strategy — and very importantly, knowledgeable staff who can relate, direct and advise the valued customer.

    *GfK Marketing Services SA tracks the sale of athletic footwear brands and categories through SA retailers. Retailers joining the service (free) receive detailed feedback. For more information contact Craig Bowen on Tel: 011 803 1300. Fax: 011 803 0111. Email: or visit

    June 2008

    Selling shells as soft as fleeces

    Soft shells are the outdoor wear of the future. A growing number of discerning consumers know that they should look for a soft shell in an outdoor or sport apparel store — not among the groceries. But, there are still many customers who could be introduced to the benefits of these garments

    Benefits of soft shells

  • They are comfortable to wear as they are extremely light and stretch to allow more freedom of movement.

  • They offer protection against the wind and rain, but allow you freedom of movement to perform a sport.

  • The qualities of soft shell garments come from the properties of the fabrics, not membranes or coatings, and therefore last much longer than conventional waterproofs.

  • Garments are soft, flexible, and very comfortable and can be worn all day, not only when the weather is foul.

  • Combining layer functions like a shell, insulation and wicking in a single garment means fewer separate clothing layers need to be worn to provide protection against the weather.
  • The term softshell is going to be heard more and more often on the shop floor — and no, it has nothing to do with breakfast. The fairly new generation of garments fitting this apt description is gaining in popularity — and are destined to become even more of a stock feature, say the local suppliers.

    “We have seen an incredible growth in sales of softshells,” reports Ian Little of local manufacturer Capestorm. “Four years ago we only had one softshell in our range, now we have half a dozen men’s and four women specific softshells.”

    This growth in demand goes hand in hand with more public awareness of the technological benefits of these types of garments. According to Rebecca Laird of Texas Peak, who distribute Helly Hansen, more and more consumers are looking for features offered by these technical fabrics, instead of just a good looking, nicely coloured jacket.

    This demand has, in turn, been driven by manufacturers using improved fabrics, styling and technologies, adds Barbara Cole, New Balance apparel key accounts manager.

    Another factor is the increased participation in trail running and multi-sport events, says Jacqueline Brooks of Salomon, as these garments are ideally suited to these activities. “As the number of people doing trail running increase, the demand for softshell garments grow.”

    Although the demand has, without a doubt, increased over the past two to three years due to heightened awareness, there is still a huge untapped market out there that will only be reached as know-ledge and information spreads, says Morne Strydom of local manufacturer First Ascent.

    “But, consumers have become so used to wearing a fleece that it will take some time to get them used to these garments made in a fabric that is strange to the touch,” he says.

    “As perceptual values are broken down through more exposure, consumers will become more accepting of the new look of outdoor jackets. There is no doubt that this is the trend of the future. From now on the momentum will pick up.”

    The fact that some of the mainstream outdoor groups have given softshell garments in-store exposure has helped to introduce the benefits to more consumers, says Strydom.

    But, telling a customer about a new kind of garment that not even the experts can define, takes some doing! In 2003 some of the major industry players tried to formulate a definition of a softshell during a workshop held at OutDoor Friedrichshafen — and failed to reach consensus. “That is part of the challenge facing the industry — when is a softshell a softshell?” says Little. “There are so many permutations and so many interpretations that no common definition actually exists.”

    So, exactly how do you introduce a customer to a softshell garment?

    What is a softshell?

    To start off, the name is pretty much descriptive: the garments are soft and provide an effective protective shell against wind, rain, cold and other unpleasant elements. They also breathe and allow perspiration and moisture to escape. The shell traps body heat to create a warm, comfortable insulated cocoon.

    That’s the easy part. From there, the definition becomes murkier: the garments can be made of a tightly-woven, soft, thin and lightweight fabric, or they can be heavier and knitted, they can be 2-ply, or 3-ply, or even mono ply. Says Little: “Softshells are jack-of-all trades, but masters of none — they are not as waterproof as hard shells and not as insulating as a top quality fleece or insulating jacket. A good softshell is the quintessential all-in-one garment: warm, compact, water-resilient, durable, breathable and form-fitting.”

    In general, most softshells are not 100% waterproof, but they will keep you dry in normal rain and will dry fast enough to prevent you from catching a cold if you cycle, climb, play golf, hike or run in wet or windy weather. (There are, however, some top end models that will offer as much protection against wind and rain as you can get.)

    While it acts like a hard shell by keeping you dry in everything but a heavy rain storm, you don’t feel like peeling off your softshell the minute you enter a building. Its comfortable to wear and many consumers wear it just like they would have worn a fleece.

    And while you’ll look pretty daft and perspire like a sauna when running a trail race or competing in a cycle race in an old-style rain jacket, a softshell will blend in well with the rest of your gear. It therefore has wide appeal for athletes who don’t enjoy their sport in the rain (yes, it does sometimes rain on a golf course!)

    Giving your customer a choice

    Who wears them where and for what purpose will further determine how the softshell looks and performs. Not all softshells are equally wind- and waterproof. Like with any other garment, the level of protection will depend on the use. There are three main types:

  • Softshells aimed at general purpose use (e.g. going to the mall in winter) and aerobic type sporting activities, where you don’t need too much insulation because the body generates enough of its own heat from running, cycling or golfing. They do, however, provide protection against the wind and will keep you dry in a drizzle.

  • The next level are the softshells with the widest appeal: they are body warmers that offer a fair level of protection, especially when worn with a thin fleece layer. These micro fiber polyester or ripstop softshells dry very fast, but are not as waterproof as the next level.

  • At the top of the range are the insulating softshells that will be worn in very wet, cold and windy conditions — like being on a yacht when a Black South Easter strikes or on a skiing holiday in Switzerland.

  • A cost-effective buy

    A softshell is not cheap, but your customer will get a lot of wear for their money. Compared to the highly technical waterproof breathable hard shells that can cost anything up to R2 500 and are only worn in extreme weather, a softshell retailing for R500-1 000 is a practical buy.

    And because they need to wear fewer layers of clothing with a softshell, your customer can buy one garment, instead of several layers of fleeces, jerseys and rain jackets.

    Softshells have revolutionised the way designers think about outdoor clothing, says Strydom. “The whole approach to the design of waterproof shells for active people has changed due to the introduction of softshells. Now designers are looking at ways to make them more functional, super light and breathable.”

    This is especially true for the very active outdoor enthusiasts enjoying activities like trail running or cycling. But, on a mountain top where garments are bound to suffer abrasions and other abuse, robustness would count more than light weight, says Little.

    How many people out there are aware that these garments actually offer heavyweight protection?

    Spreading the word

    According to Laird, the level of awareness differs from sporting code to sporting code. “Participants in some sporting codes are much more advanced than others with regards to understanding the benefits of the technology, and understanding the value of paying a little more for such benefits.”

    Up to now, awareness has mainly been in the outdoor market, where it has been driven by local outdoor clothing manufacturers and retailers, explains Strydom.

    The typical Capestorm customer, for example, tends to be discerning and more often than not likes to know about the qualities of our products, says Little. “This is especially so with a highly technical garment like a softshell.”

    The general public, though, cannot yet discern between a softshell and ordinary fleece top, believes Brook. “There is still a lot of education to be done.”

    Most customers still buy garments on the look, feel and price without going into too much detail on the benefits, agrees Brendon Geary, Apparel Product Line Manager for Puma SA.

    And let’s face it, feeling a softshell in a store is not exactly going to convince a customer that this flimsy-feeling garment is going to keep as much wind and rain out as a fur-lined parka. But, once you see someone wearing such a garment in a howling South Easter, you are going to think twice about buying it — and the third time you’ll probably make the purchase!

    Once a consumer experienced the benefits first hand, he’ll be converted, says Strydom. He’ll tell his friend, and so the word will spread.

    How to convince customers?

    The ideal place to address this is in the store. “There can definitely be an improvement in conveying the benefits at store level through the sales staff, and through training from the brands on fabrics, technology and features,” says Cole.

    “Educate people on how to dress for winter for performance activities, get people to understand the benefits of windproof and rain-repellent garments… most of this can be conveyed at store level, or through product-specific advertising.

    The proof of the pudding is always in the eating, advises Little. “We therefore encourage our staff to use our products in their chosen playground. There is no better endorsement than seeing a garment performing in the environment it is designed for. We are also proactive with our customers in store and ensure that we don’t just stand behind the counter waiting for the sale, but interact with customers explaining the ins and outs of the garments.”

    Another way of promoting the use of softshells is through high profile athletes and celebrities wearing them, suggests Brook. “But, no salesperson will be sufficiently aware of all the benefits unless they are trained on the product,” she emphasises.

    Practical demonstrations often speak volumes and Strydom recommends that retailers SHOW their customers how well a thin-looking softshell can repel moisture by pouring a glass of water over a garment — and watch their amazement as the water form beads that do not penetrate the fabric.

    An ordinary fan can be used to set up a wind tunnel. Simply ask your customer to extend one hand covered by softshell fabric and the other one bare, and let them experience first hand the protective barrier a softshell can create, he suggests.

    These hot spots would work best in a store area dedicated to softshells and other technical garments, adds Geary.

    In these areas simple in-store charts from suppliers outlining the key benefits of the garments, could be displayed, suggests Laird. This will also be a great help to retailers selling the products. In-store videos could also be shown here to demonstrate the benefits, adds Brook.

    Who are the customers?

    Softshells have up to now mainly been sold in outdoor stores — mainly because outdoor brands have been at the forefront of the development — but the uses are limitless. There is hardly a sports or outdoor category where they would NOT be used (well, maybe not IN a pool, but certainly just outside the water).

    “Whilst we will design a climbing specific softshell such as our Red Point jacket with full side-seam zippers for ventilation and high chest pockets, we find that it also sells into the general market,” says Little. “In fact, Mike Finch (Runners World editor) was seen on screen wearing his Red Point to protect him against the heavy showers whilst commentating for SABC on the Joburg marathon! Likewise, our women-specific softshells have sold to all sectors of the markets including mountain bikers, walkers, climbers and runners.”

    The way in which softshell garments are used would, however, differ from code to code. The use of a softshell supplied by a specific brand will also depends on the area of activity that the brand specialises in.

    Salomon, for example, is known as a trail running and adventure racing brand. Their softshell garments are therefore internationally worn mainly by trail runners, says Brook. They will be launching their new technical range to SA consumers for the 2009 season.

    Laird believes that watersport enthusiasts would be the most advanced, knowledgeable and understanding of the benefits these garments – but then, Helly Hansen has a strong footprint in watersports.

    “Watersport enthusiasts are also, due to their understanding of the benefits, more comfortable paying for the additional features of these garments,” she says. “Warmth, breathability, water resistance levels and wind resistance levels are critical to watersports enthusiasts in enhancing their experience.”

    “Active people are doing more and more across all sporting codes so a garment that performs for running, cycling, paddling etc is a fantastic item to have in your active wardrobe,” says Cole. “Many of the sales also depend on the aesthetics of the garment, which may even mean that it’s worn as a fashion rather than a performance item.”

    Puma, for example, is a brand that is popular with the higher-income sport fashion consumers and they have found that there has been a major shift in demand for softshell garments from customers who are not really worried about the technical benefits, but want to wear it more as a fashion item, says Geary. But, on the other hand, their softshells are also key items worn by top football teams and runners.

    But, whatever the customers needs, the days of the old, traditional thick heavy fleeces are numbered, says Strydom. In future, everybody will be wearing light, compact micro-fibre fleeces under softshell garments — or just a single softshell garment on its own.

    There is no garment more comforting on a classic Cape winters day with grey skies, intermittent rain and a cold wind that cuts though to the bone, he says. That is when a softshell offers a practical solution on the golf course, next to the fishing waters, on a hike or just going about your everyday busines.

    Tips for selling

  • Wear the soft shells yourself and experience the benefits first hand;

  • Dedicate a specific area of the store to soft shells — don’t just hang them among other jackets and shirts;

  • Demonstrate the benefits: allow customers to pour water on a garment and let them experience the wind protection offered under a fan;

  • Display boards with information about the benefits, ask suppliers for signage or try and obtain an in-store video from suppliers;

  • Make sure that all staff attend information evenings and read material supplied by suppliers so that they understand why soft shells are different from hard shells or fleeces;

  • Arm sales staff with knowledge to impress customers, e.g. that there are special washes to restore the durable water repellent features of a garment.

  • August 2006

    Shopping in the outdoor market

    With the outdoor market changing, retailers have to stay alert about what stock to carry in order to keep their customers satisfied. MARK JOHNSTON gives some guidelines

    Remember the tyre-sole hiking boot? External framed backpack? Seems like a lifetime ago, doesn’t it? But it’s not. (Well, not unless you’re still wearing Bata Toughees and learning long division.)

    There’s no doubt about it: the SA outdoor market has grown – no, exploded – in recent years. The result is better, lighter, stronger gear. And lots of it.

    Of course, while all this choice is great news for the consumer, it makes retailing that little bit more challenging.

    Gone are the days when you could stack a couple of Bleuet gas canisters and some red woolly hiking socks on the shelf and call yourself an outdoor shop. Now you need all 27 brands of camping stove, Gore-Tex nose warmers and GPS receivers that double as PDAs. And that’s just to keep the hikers happy.

    What about the rock climbers, the abseilers, the adventure racers, the trail runners, the mountain bikers? And don’t forget those orienteering nuts. It’s easy to see why overseas outdoor one-stops now resemble multi-story department stores.

    "The trend is definitely towards multi-activity," says Simon Larsen of RAM Mountaineering. "Ten years ago if you were the outdoor type that invariably meant you were a hiker. Now the five day trail is almost a thing of the past… instead people prefer to spend shorter periods of time enjoying a range of different activities."

    Does it mean retailers have to stock everything from ice axes to puncture repair kits?

    Definitely not.

    The staples — things like backpacks, clothing, footwear and hiking accessories — are still going to be the best sellers.

    But, it follows that gear that is versatile is going to be more popular: a tent that can be used for adventure racing and climbing; base layers that are suitable for hiking and kayaking; a headtorch for camping, but that’s also bright enough for a night-time mountain bike ride or trail run.

    Hand-in-hand with this is a growing demand for equipment that is lightweight and compact.

    Fast and light are the buzzwords for many outdoor lovers, and gear manufacturers have responded by cutting kilos … but not performance.

    "Equipment is definitely getting more efficient," notes Larsen. Two examples he uses are the recently updated Black Diamond Camelot range (these climbing cams are now 25% lighter than their predecessors), and the new Jetboil stove, which delivers two cups of boiling water in just 120 seconds.

    John Fontyn of Eiger Equipment agrees, and says he thinks this is one of the main reasons for the startling success of his Thermal Comfort range of inflatable mattresses. "We’re selling more and more of these as weight and price come down."

    Versatility and efficiency also seem to be the main drawcards in the outdoor clothing arena, with our two main local apparel manufacturers, Capestorm and First Ascent, both noticing a steady increase in the sales of lightweight, multi-tasking items like soft shells (a part fleece, part hard shell that insulates while offering partial protection from the elements).

    Is the good ol’ fleece jacket on the way out then? Not at all. But where polar fleece was a specialist item found only in dedicated hiking and climbing stores five years ago, it’s now become far more prevalent in mainstream shops and chains. The result? Outdoor stores have had to shift their focus to more technical garments.

    Not too technical, mind you.

    This year First Ascent completely revamped their soft shell line-up, with the specific purpose of offering less technical garments.

    Says First Ascent’s Andrew Gold: "Up until now SA soft shell design has been strongly dictated by what the European and American markets were offering (i.e. highly specialist jackets for ski and alpine use). But we weren’t convinced that the local market was actually benefiting from all these bells and whistles."

    After all, our climate is very different … plus the cost of manufacturing one of these top-end soft shells is often prohibitive. So, they’ve introduced a selection of jackets that are not only less expensive, but also more suited to local conditions. And body shape.

    According to Gold, many imported garments simply don’t fit the South African physique. "We’re slimmer!" he says.

    Which gives us yet another reason to support locally-made apparel — it looks better on you!

    Perhaps the biggest trend with outdoor clothing right now is the strong emphasis on female-specific cuts.

    At this year’s outdoor trade fair in Friedrichshafen, Germany, Outdoor Woman was the core theme, a clear sign that overseas manufacturers are now realizing the huge potential of this market. Here in South Africa we’re catching on too.

    And, according to Morné Strydom of Capestorm, this growth is not just with less technical apparel: "We’re noticing an uptake right across the board — all the way to top-end items like hard shells."

    That said, women still seem to shop very differently from men. "What attracts them is style," says Strydom. "Guys look for features and performance. Ladies place more emphasis on appearance and fit."

    What about brand consciousness? According to Larsen, South Africans seem to be far more choosy about what they are buying.

    "People are definitely recognising quality — they’ve decided that it’s worth spending money and getting a good product."

    And there’s no doubt this also translates into brand loyalty. This is good news for retailers: stick with respected outdoor brands and you’re definitely going to move stock.

    But, the flip side is the danger that all the stores end up looking the same — of becoming clones, as Larsen puts it.

    He feels that it’s vital, especially for the independents, that outlets stock a broader range of products. By limiting their stock to a small number of steady sellers, independent retailers are not only ridding the market of a lot of good products; they run the risk of being swamped by the larger chains.

    June 2005

    Store designs that promote sales

    By spending a little extra time on planning the layout, lighting, furnishings, lighting, displays — in other words, the design — of a store, a retailer can create an environment where customers will enjoy spending their money, reports CARIN DU TOIT

    Retail design encompasses all aspects of display in a store: from the store’s front to the price tags. It deals with, as one would expect, the decoration of the store and the appearance, but also with the lighting the store will use, the point of sale system, the types of display stands, etc.

    The aim of retail design is not only for the store to look nice – it is also about functionality. The designer has to make sure that everything will work aesthetically, functionally, commercially, and yet, stay within a budget whilst still meeting all the regulations governing the use of public space.

    "The store frontage is the first interaction that the general public has with the shop and its merchandise", says Alan Weiss of the Design Forum in Cape Town. "A well designed and positioned shop sign is therefore the number one priority." Window display systems are often a neglected feature. Effective window displays, that are updated regularly, will give you an advantage over competitors, as well as retain public interest on an ongoing basis. 3-Dimensional views into the store should be included to encourage people to cross the entrance threshold and move into the retail space.

    Graphic display systems could also be introduced to highlight the benefits and advantages of the product range, he suggests. "The look of these systems could also form a link between general advertising and the retail shop itself.

    Important points to consider when designing a store is to take special care of the directional and departmental signage systems, which enable customers to easily navigate the store. The planning should ensure that a logical traffic flow system is incorporated.

    Sport and outdoor people are practical by nature, and therefore it is very important to allow them to experience, as far as possible, the benefits of products that they intend to purchase. Potential customers are more likely to make an effort to visit a store with facilities where a customer can test and handle products.

    "There are a number of mechanisms that retailers can use to encourage or direct sales," advises Weiss. "These range from strategic positioning of focal or feature displays, to following basic retailing rules such as ‘eye level is buy level’, therefore place the highest-margin items about 5.5 feet from the floor, etc." says Weiss.

    Grouping of products to encourage cross merchandising is also a technique often used in stores.

    The way that products are arranged on shelves, particularly the more expensive items, should re-enforce the image of exclusivity and quality. After all, you cannot expect to sell a new Rolls Royce off a second hand parking lot at the correct price. Retail environments should be designed to compliment merchandise.

    Weiss says that although retailers generally want to create a "shopping experience" for their customers, it is important to always remember that your aim is to sell products. To this end customers should see the product first and environmental effects second. The shopping environment should be effective yet subliminal.

    As a rule of thumb, when considering which colours to use in the shop, keep in mind what colours your merchandise are. Do not use colours that fight with, or attract attention away from your merchandise.

    Shoplifting is a big problem for retailers. One way of keeping their hands off your goods is to keep small and expensive items close to staff or security points, for example cashier counters. However, customers need to have access to merchandise and therefore effective, and visible, deterrents such as security cameras, mirrors, security gates, etc, need to be considered.

    No matter if you design a new store for the first time, or one that is being revamped, try to have a single theme that keeps everything together. For example, Cinch, the London home of Levi’s premium product, uses the red stitching detail characteristic of Levi’s to lure the customer inside and around the shop. The stitching is the signature on the shop front, a merchandising system, the handrail on the stairs and the navigation system to guide customers through the space.

    It is becoming increasingly important to do customer research before starting to design a store. As a result, there is a growing interest within the retail design industry in how customer feedback can be used to shape the design of retail environments. New research methods are constantly being used in retail design to gain more information about consumer attitudes and behaviour. Methods range from observation techniques, including video-tracking and assisted shopping, through to cultural analysis and anthropological studies.

    Lighting is a very important aspect of any retail design. After all, without lights, the customer would not be able to see the products the store is selling. "Lighting is everything!" says Weiss. "This item is often overlooked and under budgeted. The look of a store can be totally transformed with lights – this often requiring specialist input." Effective lighting creates atmosphere and helps to enhance merchandise. However, it is not a case of one light fits all. For example, the harsh bright light of fluorescent tubing does not work everywhere. Sometimes you want the light to be more subdued.

    In 2004 the magazine Display and Design Ideas (DDI) compiled a lighting industry survey to measure the lighting product use and preferences of retailers and retail design companies - the majority of respondents (33.2%) indicated they use tubular fluorescent lighting products, with the next highest number (18.3%) indicating they use low-voltage incandescent and halogen lighting products.

    However, many respondents also indicated that they are changing their buying habits to focus more on energy-efficient products. DDI reported that during 2005 more than 30% of respondents are planning to buy more compact fluorescent lighting, LED lighting and low-voltage track lighting.

    To make the most of your design and to ensure the design stays up to date, even over a few years, make sure the design meets a defined customer need and makes the experience more rewarding and better than your competitors. Above all, make sure the concept is simple to understand and manage.

    Key points to remember when designing your store:

  • Balance research with intuition. As the link between social / cultural changes and retail trends becomes ever more apparent, the need to incorporate research within the design process grows in importance. However, intuition and professional design experience are also crucial to a successful design.

  • Monitor the results. Results range from customer feedback and sales figures through to more intangible results, including improved brand equity and ability to gain presence within more prestigious retail locations.

  • Make points accessible. Customer behaviour can be described as "grazing" versus "hunting" for products. If the product is over-organized and segmented, a grazer may feel you are suggesting "do not touch". Your display should give them a sense of the product or say "do touch!" Alternatively, to cater for a hunter, organise products - for example as Good, Better, Best.

  • Shopping needs to be easy. Do not complicate your store and make it difficult for your customer to find what he is looking for.

  • Perceived value is often as important to the customer as the actual quality of the product. Successful retail design can improve overall customer perceptions of the product quality as well as the brand.

  • Functionality. Retail design can improve overall navigation and selection for the customer. It can also enhance the service offer and ensures accessibility for customers who are not completely mobile.

  • Customers are becoming more demanding in both physical and emotional terms, as they now want more personalised relationships with the brands they buy and the retailers they buy from. As a result, the tone of the design and approach by staff is becoming increasingly important.

  • Good service. Always invest in staff training if you introduce a new concept. All good retail design depends on good service, as the environment can only set the scene and create desire.

  • August 2005

    The changing face of the hiking market

    Forget about the Otter Trail. South Africans are spreading their wings and taking on the world’s wildest mountains, reports MARK JOHNSTON. But does this mean every outdoor store should now stock ropes and ice axes?

    In the pre-Monsoon weather window during May this year, no less than five South Africans made it to the summit of the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest.

    One of those five was Sibusiso Vilane, who had already achieved widespread recognition when he became the first black person to summit Everest in May 2003. Another was well-known Joburg mountaineer Alex Harris, whose success on Everest made him the second South African to complete the much coveted Seven Summits, a challenge to climb the highest peak on every continent. The local outdoor industry was represented by Mark Campbell, who put some of the gear distributed by his partner, John Fontyn of Eiger Equipment, to the test.

    But these five were not the only locals who’ve been peak bagging recently. In February this year a team of four South Africans, led by Alard Hüfner clambered to the top of Cerro Torre, a fearsome tooth of rock and ice in Patagonia, which is considered by many to be one of the most challenging climbs in the world. And last month Brett Burnill of Leisure Holdings reached the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro, the highest peak in Africa.

    Clearly South Africans are getting a tad more adventurous!

    "It’s true," agrees Leni Hamilton of Hikers Paradise in Centurion. "We’ve seen a big increase in the number of people going off to do adventurous trips."

    By far the most popular is Kilimanjaro. "It’s amazing – Kili has become what the Otter Trail was 10 years ago," says Leni. "People see it as very accessible...and the cost doesn’t seem to be an issue at all."

    Indeed, a stronger rand is allowing South Africans to travel once again, and for many this is an opportunity to explore the more rugged corners of the globe. "We’ve had groups going off to climb in the Karakoram and South America. And Everest Base Camp is also incredibly popular."

    Interestingly, most of these people have little or no hiking experience. Where has all this interest in climbing mountains suddenly come from?

    "The public media has definitely helped fuel it," suggests Leni. It’s not uncommon to open an outdoor magazine these days and find an article on trekking in the Himalayas or hiking the Inca Trail.

    There has also been an increase in the number of climbing-related programmes on television and in film, and while many of these still paint a picture of mountaineering being a daredevil pursuit, some have started to present it as an exciting holiday alternative, something you and your wife can enjoy on your annual summer vacation, instead of going to Mauritius (Carte Blanche even aired a piece a while ago about a disabled man who attempted Kilimanjaro in his wheelchair!).

    It has also just become hugely trendy to climb mountains. A few years ago yuppies were impressing their friends with their latest mountain biking and adventure racing exploits. Now it’s not unusual for Sandton dinner party conversations to include talk of Kili, and possibly even Everest.

    Whatever the reasons for this growing interest in climbing mountains, there’s no doubt that this new trend offers a huge opportunity for outdoor retailers.

    Gauteng outdoor specialists like Hikers Paradise and Drifters regularly get a lot of aspiring Kilimanjaro summiteers asking to be kitted out from head to toe. "Many of these people are complete novices — they get a kit list from their tour operator, but they don’t have any of the gear," agree Leni and Richard Turkington of Drifters.

    So they pop down to their nearest outdoor store with wallet in hand. And people don’t seem to be shy about spending!

    Even just buying the basic kit for a Kili trip can set you back R5000, and it is not uncommon for one person to spend between R8000 to R12 000.

    With literally hundreds of South Africans heading up Kilimanjaro each year, and many others jetting off to the Himalayas and South America, clearly this can be a very lucrative business to be in.

    But, this growth in trekking and mountain climbing is just a small part of a much bigger picture, one which shows a global interest in outdoor products and clothing.

    "What we’re seeing in SA now, is exactly what happened in the overseas market a few years ago," says Ken Lazarus, Marketing Director at Cape Union Mart. "Outdoor clothing suddenly became fashionable."

    Trendy Europeans, who previously liked to be seen in leather jackets and Levis, started wearing North Face soft shells and convertible trekking trousers. South Africans, it seems, are starting to follow suit and, let’s face it, this is where the real money is to be made.

    This shift has created a potential boom for the outdoor retail industry, but it has also resulted in a number of challenges. Perhaps the biggest has been the entry of the large fashion chains who, eager to get a piece of the pie, have begun offering their own soft shells and convertible trekking trousers, usually with price tags much lower than those found in the independent stores.

    Many are concerned that this competition from major chains spells disaster for the smaller specialists.

    Andy Baxter of Capestorm disagrees. "There’s no doubt that the specialist stores are being put under pressure, but if you look at what happened in Europe, you’ll see they do ultimately recover."

    Why? "It’s the big companies who have the budget to advertise and promote the outdoor lifestyle, so what the chain stores ultimately do is create awareness, which in turn grows the market and benefits the smaller guys."

    Of course, the independent stores will never be able to compete directly with the big companies, but, says Baxter, they shouldn’t try anyway. "Independents need to focus on carving their own niche, creating something that the larger stores can’t."

    And there are a number of things the smaller stores can offer: value adding (such as custom made products and repairs), product differentiation (in other words, a greater variety of specialist brands) and – very importantly – good, informed service.

    Indeed, it is the latter that many people believe set the independents apart from the larger retailers, who always have a high turnover of staff and struggle to offer the same level of service and expertise that one finds in smaller retailers.

    A word of warning

    Although South Africans are conquering Kili en masse, retailers will do their customers a favour if they warn them that not all tour operators tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth when signing them up for a trip.

    Groups of healthy, fit thirty somethings have suffered horribly from altitude sickness because they were rushed to complete the trip in the shortest possible time — and found that they had no option but to continue up the mountain, even when feeling sick or disorientated.

    A fit, healthy cyclist recently died whilst attempting to summit the mountain. And apparently deaths are not a rare occurence on Kilimanjaro.

    The only problem, though: not all tour operators warn their clients how tough the experience could be, leaving them to believe it is nothing more than a tough hiking trip.

    We are sure that there are many scrupulous tour operators who warn their customers about the dangers of the trip — and prepare them well for the ascent by allowing sufficient time to acclimatise.

    But, there are also those who do not warn clients that they will have to climb cliffs in thin altitudes if they choose the limited budget option and have to walk for close to 18 hours on the day of the summit.

    August 2005

    The cost of trading

    Everybody knows that a mall store draws the feet — at a price. How much do you have to sell in order to compensate for the higher rental? CARIN DU TOIT investigated

    When considering where to have your store, there are three key words to remember: location, location, location!

    Some retailers do well despite having their stores in secluded, out-of-the-way locations, but for the majority it bodes well to have your store where potential customers can see it.

    However, with this comes the age-long-question: where is the best location for my store? For some, a shopping centre environment is the best place to reel in customers, but with the nice location comes a really nice price-tag. Not everyone can afford to have a store inside a shopping centre.

    The other option is having a street-front store outside a shopping centre environment, where the price-tag is not as high, but customers might not be as captured as in a shopping centre.

    How do these two options weigh up? Does the shopping centre lessee have to sell more stock to make the same profit as the street-front lessee? Does the higher customer-traffic in shopping centres compensate for the higher rent? The Mall of Rosebank, for instance, boasts 10.5-m people pass through the centre’s doors annually and Canal Walk says 19-m people visit the centre annually.

    A mall is a mall is a mall

    Before going into the costs involved in renting different types of stores, let’s take a closer look at the different types of shopping centres.

    Shopping centres are classified according to their size and the type of stores they are likely to have. There are seven different shopping centres, ranging from big super regional shopping centres, for example Sandton City, to small value centres.

    The Rode’s Retail Report of Q3 2004, a quarterly SA retail report, defines shopping centres as follows:

  • A super regional shopping centre, the largest type, has more than a 100 000 rentable m2 of store space and more than 250 stores. This type of centre provides substantial comparison shopping and its principal tenants are three or more major department stores. To rent a 150m2 store in a super regional shopping centre, for example Canal Walk in Cape Town, would cost between R390 and R400 p/m2.

  • A regional shopping centre has between 30 000 and 100 000 m2 of rentable store space with 40 to 250 stores. Its principal tenants are one or more major department stores.

  • A community shopping centre has between 10 000 and 30 000 m2 of rentable store space with 30 to 60 stores. Its principal tenant is usually a variety store, for example Clicks, or a discount department store, for example Game.

  • A neighbourhood shopping centre has between 5 000 to 10 000 m2 of rentable store space with 15 to 40 stores and its principal tenant is a supermarket.

  • A convenience shopping centre is 300 to 1 200 m2 of rentable store space with 5 to 15 stores. Its principal tenant is a café or grocer.

  • A retail warehouse is a stand-alone centre with a single tenant. It is under 10 000 m2, air-conditioned, has no ceiling and has warehouse finishes.

  • A value centre is under 10 000 m2 and is a multi-tenanted strip centre (see below). It has warehouse-type finishes in order to deliver lower prices to customers.

  • A mall is typically enclosed with a common walkway between two facing strips of stores. A strip centre is a row of stores or service outlets that are connected to each other and managed as a retail entity. Store-fronts may be connected by open canopies, but there are no enclosed walkways linking the stores.

    Another important criterion to keep in mind when selecting retail space, is whether customers will be able to access your store. Is there parking next to or close to your prospective store? This is very important, because if the customer is unnecessarily inconvenienced by having to walk far to reach your store, he might not return again.

    On the other hand, can your prospective customers access your store by making use of public transport? Is there a railway station close by, or is the store on or near a bus route?

    The type of access, will also determine the type of stores in a shopping area: you will not get very far when selling heavy equipment that people cannot carry far in a shopping area like Long Street in Cape Town, where people expect to walk far and almost treat the street like a shopping mall.


    The growth in the number of shopping centres that started in 2003, is continuing today. Even though SA is seen to be over-shopped and there seems to be no real need for more shopping centres, the attractive returns offered by retail property goes a long way in encouraging investors and developers to continue pouring money into new shopping centres, say the Rode’s Retail Report.

    According to the report, there had been enormous growth in shopping centre refurbishments and extensions during the 3rd quarter of 2004.

    However, rentals of regional, community and neighbourhood shopping centres, as well as of most of the street-front stores, stayed the same over the second quarter of 2004. Street-front rentals did not increase much in the period stretching from the second quarter of 2003 to the 3rd quarter of 2004. Durban’s decentralised areas showed the biggest increase (4.0%) with Bloemfontein’s CBD2 following with a 2.3% rise. This growth in retail space is expected to continue. The Rode’s Retail Report predicts that about 421 500m2 of major developments and extensions will be added to existing retail spaces in the next two years. It also says that this should have a subdued effect on rental prices.

    With all the new shopping centres being built and renovated, there is healthy competition amongst shopping centres for tenants and the public’s attention. For instance, when the Gateway Mall opened in Durban and La Lucia lost key tenants, the latter rebranded itself to attract more sophisticated tenants and shoppers.

    Clothing retailers have been one of the driving forces behind the growing demand for more retail space in centres. "Analysts say that there’s been increased competition in this category, with fashion retailers such as Dunns and Hang Ten opening new outlets in shopping centres", wrote Joan Muller in a Finance Week article Malls’ highest returns in a decade.

    It looks like established local fashion retailers are rising to the challenge set by certain retail property owners. Hyprop, who owns Canal Walk in Cape Town, is adding brands such as Lacoste and MetroSexual to its existing retailers. Earlier this year a Nike Concept Store was opened in Canal Walk. The established retailers are responding by increasing their floor space, which leaves property owners smiling ear to ear.

    Foschini, Truworths and Ackerman’s in the N1 Value City, Cape Town, doubled their floor space in response to international competition. Other retailers, for example Legit, Topic and Markham’s, are also increasing their floor space in N1 Value City.

    What do the customers say?

    It is no wonder that there is such a demand for shopping centre space from apparel retailers. In the Sports Trader Teen Brand Survey, 44.9% of the rural and 50.8% of the urban respondents indicated that they shop at malls and 48% said that they usually buy shoes or clothing because they saw it while browsing in a mall.

    Interestingly, malls definitely rank the highest (as a shopping destination) under the rural and urban teens, but not amongst the township teens. Amongst the township teens, malls rank fourth below department stores (40.7%), sports stores (26%) and fashion chains (21%).

    Independent shoe or clothing specialists did not rank high amongst either of the groups – only 8.9% of the respondents in rural areas, 1.2% in townships and 11.6% in urban areas say they prefer to shop at these stores.

    If you look at the individual provinces, malls are the most popular shopping destinations in six of the provinces (Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Mpumulanga, North West and Western Cape), 2nd in the Northern Cape and 4th in the Eastern Cape.

    Independent stores do not rank very high as a shopping destination in any province — although KwaZulu-Natal respondents would shop there if they do not shop in malls.

    But how much is it?

    Finally we get to the juicy bit – what is the price difference between a shopping centre store and a street-front store?

    This depends on which province and in which part of the city or town you trade – and that is before taking into account the size store you need.

    "Price Comparison (R/m2) in the greater Cape Town area" shows a comparison of the different shopping centre and street-front rental costs in the greater Cape Town area. The street-front retail rental prices have been split into those in the CBD and those that are decentralised, because CBD rental prices are on the whole more expensive. This shows that rent in a super regional shopping centre (R400 p/m2) like Canal Walk, for instance, is more than double the rent in a regional centre.

    Store owners in a super regional mall therefore have to make more than double the profit of a retailer renting space in a regional centre, and eight times more than a street-front store owner in a decentralised area, before they can start comparing profits.

    "Regional Shopping Centre Comparison (R/m2)" is a comparison of regional shopping centre rental prices p/m2 in Johannesburg, Bloemfontein and Cape Town. There is a big difference in the asking price of the centres in the different areas. You will expect Bloemfontein to have the lowest asking price of the three; however, there is also about R40 p/m2 difference between the rental in Cape Town and Johannesburg.

    "Shopping Centre vs. Street Front" is a comparison of the street-front and shopping centre prices for a 50m2 store in the CBD and decentralised areas of different cities. This indicates that position is as important as location in a mall, as the rent of a street-front store in the Cape Town CBD is more expensive than shopping centres in the decentralised areas. Cape Town and Johannesburg is also more expensive than the rest of the country.


  • Muller, J. 13 April 2005. Malls’ highest returns in a decade. Finance Week

  • Rode. Third quarter 2004. Rode’s Retail Report.

  • JH Isaacs Real Estate Limited. Fourth Quarter 2003. JHI Property Report 2004.

  • De Kock, S. regional manager for JH Isaacs Real Estate Ltd. 1 July 2005. Email correspondence.

  • June/ July 2009

    The light revolution continues

    During the past decade, lighting products for outdoor and sport have become drawcards for customers curious to see what new features the developers have added, reports TRUDI DU TOIT

    Industry standard ratings

    The following ratings will become industry standards from next year:

  • Lumens: total light output, powered by recommended batteries.

  • Battery life will change from a low-light measurement to a percentage of original output.

  • Beam Distance: no change and distance will still be calculated based on the 0.25 lux cutoff (units used to define the amount of light projected onto a surface).

  • Drop testing: unaltered performance over standardised minimum drop height.

  • Waterproof: defined in three levels, water resistant, waterproof or submersible.

  • Beam Intensity: a candela rating (used to calculate the distance) as well as meters (distance) will be presented on the package.

  • Source: Black Diamond

    Think back to what your lighting section looked like a mere decade ago: a few models of incandescent torches, a few gas lamps or lanterns, but not exactly anything that would stop browsers in their tracks. And then came the LEDs, the compact headlamps, the mini torches… and suddenly sport and outdoor lighting became a section that draws customers to look, touch, read about and discuss all the options available.

    Choices abound with the vast array of headlamps, handheld torches and lanterns offering expected and unexpected new features.

    Ever since Petzl revolutionised sport and outdoor lighting with the Tikka headlamp in 2000, the designers of new lighting products have been surpassing computer software developers in introducing something new and better each year.

    “The size and weight of the latest Petzl headlamps are kept to a strict minimum, while the performance had been improved by new LED developments,” says John Fontyn of local distributor Eiger Equipment. Functionality improved with easier switching between different lighting modes and better access to the batteries.

    The multiple options for wearing headlamps offered by some models - for example, on the wrist, on a backpack strap, or solid surface – make the headlamps so much more versatile, he adds, while close attention had been paid to the design details with attractive new colours, transparent features, clean lines, etc.

    “One of the most interesting recent developments is the way manufacturers manage to achieve greater output from the same LED,” says Simon Larsen of Ram Mountaineering, distributor of Black Diamond and Princeton Tec. “Better quality LEDs and the use of different currents, have achieved much better results.

    “This has, unfortunately, resulted in some confusion about the rating system to be 20used when reporting light output.”

    Some of the leading LED manufacturers — Black Diamond, Petzl and Princeton Tec — therefore began working together to devise a unified system for reporting light output.

    “The latest thrust is to talk about lumens,” says Larsen. “But the problem is that there are different ways of measuring light output: you can measure the lumens coming out of the headlamp, or those reflected off an object. Lumens measure the perceived power of light and are often confused with how bright a light product will be.

    “For example, a flood light with a very wide beam can have the same lumen rating as a focused spotlight. Lumens cannot be used to define beam intensity, because a lumen rating includes all of the scattered, useless light,” he explains

    The lumen rating on a light product’s package could be the LED manufacturer’s or the lamp manufacturers rating, but it frequently does NOT include the inefficiencies associated with the collection of the light and the projection of the light through a lens or other device, continues Larsen.

    Once the industry standardisation is established towards the end of the year, the measurement will be taken by using the complete lighting device, as powered by the batteries which come with the product. The major manufacturers are also calibrating test equipment”.

    Hand torches evolve

    While the popularity of headlamps surpassed expectations, there is still a solid demand for handheld torches for use in the home, in the glove compartment, in a pocket or handbag , in a handyman’s or artisan’s toolbox, and especially in the security industry.

    Many more traditional consumers, who do not participate in a sport where a headlamp offers an advantage, prefer a handheld torch – it can, after all, light nooks and crannies that a head can not fit in. Handheld torches are also less expensive than headlamps and improved battery life make it possible to store them unused for a relatively long time.

    Diving is one of the few sports where handheld torches still rule. Princeton Tec has a wide range of diving handhelds — from back up lights to main units diving, says Larsen. “A lot of work has gone into their 3 watt LED dive lights, with the Tec 400 the most popular amongst scuba divers.

    But, Princeton Tec also offer an extensive and impressive range of handheld torches for a wide variety of other uses — from the Amp 1 mini torch, weighing 57g that can easily be attached to a backpack with a carabineer loop, to the Shockwave 11 that switches between 7.5 watt and 15 watt power to offer a magnificent 205 lumens beam, there are many models for any activity.

    Their torches are encased in durable, robust Xylex and a soft circuit push button switches effortlessly between high intensity ultrabright beams and a regulated circuitry that provides long burn times.

    Maglite goes LED

    One of the most popular torch brands, Maglite, now also offer a new range with more sophisticated LED technology that produces a brighter, more concentrated beam, yet preserves battery life.

    “The original Maglite with the incandescent bulb, which you could upgrade to a high-intensity Magnum Star bulb filled with krypton gas, was considered to be one of the best torches on the market at the time,” says Stan Gordon of Cutlery Distributing Group.

    “Maglite introduced their first LED torches about two years ago, which included the option to upgrade your existing torch to a LED model. At that stage there was something like 200-m Maglite torches in the market and all these customers were offered the opportunity to upgrade their torches to enjoy the benefits of LED.”

    Maglite has now taken this technology to the next level by introducing more sophisticated and brighter LED bulbs and redesigning the reflector on their D-cell torches to ensure a more focused beam, says Gordon. These LEDs can, however, no longer be used in old incandescent torches.

    “Apart from increasing the brightness and sharpening the focus of the beam, another advantage of LED is that it draws little energy from the battery and you therefore have an extended battery life. In the past you could get about 20 – 30 hours from a set of batteries, now you get almost 10-20 000 hours. The initial cost of the torch is rapidly paid off by what you save on batteries,” he says.

    All the Maglite torches come with O-ring seals, which makes them splash proof for use in the rain, while fishing or yachting, and by law enforcement officers, military or security personnel. These rugged torches, made from aircraft grade aluminium, are anodised to prevent corrosion and are also shock resistant.

    A headlamp for all sports & activities

    Once introduced to the general sport and outdoor communities, headlamps did not take long to establish themselves as standard equipment in most gear bags. Although the mountaineering and caving fraternities had been using headlamps since the 1970’s, it was only after the introduction of the Petzl Tikka in 2000 that headlamps became so diverse that few athletes or outdoor enthusiasts do not have a headlamp as part of their kit.

    While a single lighting level and relatively short battery life is fine for domestic use, sport and outdoor activities require considerably more sophisticated features. Several headlamps have even been developed with a specific activity in mind.

    Adventure racing & trail running

    The growth in the popularity of sports like adventure racing and night time trail running are closely linked to developments in headlamps.

    The versatility of multi-disciplinary adventure racing, for example, places high demands on headlamps as they need to cater for different lighting conditions and sport disciplines, but the wearer does not exactly want to stop mid-race to adjust his light.

    Petzl, for example, introduced a programmable and regulated headlamp (MYO RXP) that allows the user to pre-select the order of lighting levels and level of light required.

    “The throw is also very important, especially when you cycle at night,” says Simon Larsen of Ram Mountaineering.“You also need something quite robust and waterproof.”

    The light must also remain stable on the head during running – the last thing you need when racing at night is a light that droops down and shines on your feet instead of lighting the way ahead. “It comes down to the way the lamp is secured to your head and the bracket used – a too soft bracket will not work,” says Larsen.

    Examples of headlamps: Black Diamond Icon, Spot. Petzl Tikka, Tikka Plus & XP, MYO XP & RXP. Princeton Tec EOS (with bike mount, helmet attachment & head strap), Apex, Remix (from Q4).


    A cyclist requires a serious light source, because when you travel at speed, you need a broad beam light with a throw of at least 100m, says Larsen. Especially mountain bikers must be able to see the track clearly.

    Some of the headlamps on the market have such a strong beam that a motorist signalled him to dim his light when he cycled with the Ultra Belt, recounts Petzl’s export sales manager Arnaud Tisserant.

    Cyclists using a headlamp (as opposed to a mounted bike light) have different options for attaching the light — for example, a detachable fitting mounted on the handlebars, clipped to a helmet, or with a head strap.

    Examples of headlamps: Black Diamond Icon. Petzl ADAPT system for the TIKKA2-ZIPKA2 family of headlamps, Ultra & Ultra Belt. Princeton Tec Apex, Eos Bike, Switchback 1,2,3.


    When fishing, a hands-free light source allows you to see you what you’re doing while juggling between your fishing rod and other gear — and is helpful when baiting hooks, suggests John Fontyn of Eiger Equipment.

    When trying to land a big one before sun rise, you’ll need a discreet light that will preserve night vision and will not be too bright — coloured filters and wide angle lenses will therefore be ideal.

    Anglers also need a headlamp with a good throw and a long battery life, and some form of water-resistance so that it does not get damaged if it gets wet accidentally, explains Larsen.

    Examples of headlamps: Black Diamond Icon, Spot. Petzl Tactikka XP and XP ADAPT. Princeton Tec Apex, Tactical Eos, Tactical Quad, Yukon.


    When walking a trail over several days and staying in camp sites overnight, one will have many different lighting needs, says Fontyn. In low lighting conditions you’ll need maximum light to pick up trail markers, a little less light to walk around the camp at night, and a discreet light if you don’t want to disturb the rest of the camp when you wake during the night. You will also need batteries that last long.

    The Princeton Tec Quad, for example, weighs 96gm, but has a battery life of 100-150 hours, which will safely last you a week on a trail. “Even if you are in the mountains for a week, it is unlikely that you’ll use more than 2-3 hours a day,” says Larsen.

    A hiker is forever seeking ways to reduce pack load. Petzl, for example, introduced the ZIP system.

    “When hiking in the dark, one also wants something with a bit of a throw — 35–60m — to aid navigation,” says Larsen.

    Examples of headlamps: Black Diamond Cosmo, Spot. Petzl Tikka Plus; Tikkina, Zipka. Princeton Tec Eos, Fuel, Quad, Remix (from Q4).


    When setting off or returning, you’ll want a headlamp that can light the way… but once you found a good spot or have got to your blind, you’ll need discreet lighting, for example with a red filter, to ready your gear, which will not spoil your night vision, says Fontyn.

    You’ll therefore want a versatile light that switches easily and quickly from discreet proximity lighting to a long-range focused spot beam to see the terrain.

    A black or camouflage casing will also blend in with the surroundings, says Fontyn.

    Examples of headlamps: Petzl Tactikka®, XP ADAPT & Plus. Princeton Tec Quad Tactical, EOS Tactical.

    Sailing and yachting

    A headlamp allows the light to be directed where needed, while keeping your hands free to steer, read charts etc., says Fontyn.

    On the water you’ll need versatile lighting, for example, a flood light for preparing to hoist the main sail or reading charts, etc; while long range lighting will help to locate buoys, see the far end of the boat, or illuminate the masthead.

    Headlamps will have to be water-resistant and corrosion-free as they will constantly get wet in the spray. Waterproof headlamps that can be used up to 5m under water, could be useful when inspecting the hull, or facing high waves, etc.

    Examples of headlamps: Petzl MYO XP, Tactikka XP. Princeton Tec Apex, Eos.

    April 2007

    Trail running is gaining on the road running market

    Road or trail? Which is currently more popular amongst runners, and why? Carin du Toit investigates

    As stress levels and working hours rise, so too does the urge for people to get out of doors — and into nature. The easiest way to do this is to take your shoes and go for a run. Both road and trail running are excellent ways of getting outside and exercising.

    Miles O’Brien of Olympic believes road running is still more popular, partly because in urban areas club members meet to run in a group, or make use of facilities offered by a club, while they often do not have easy access to trails in a city environment.

    John Andrews of New Balance agrees that road running is the most popular of the two, but adds that trail running is definitely growing in popularity — even amongst road runners.

    Trail is growing in popularity, that one can see by looking at, for example, how many runners frequent the trails on Table Mountain.

    O’Brien believes this is due to people looking for interesting and unusual running routes, which road running does not offer.

    Bennie Botes of Salomon Sport, agrees. He believes that "general stressful living plays a big role. Over weekends people just want to get out of the city. They buy footwear according to where they will be spending most of their free time … [and] in South Africa, this will be outdoors. Hence the reason for the upward curl in sales of top quality off - road footwear."

    An added benefit of trail running is that there is less wear-and-tear on legs due to a generally softer running surface than road runners find on tarmac.

    Martin Dugard, writer for Runner’s World, credits the rise in trail running participation to what is called biophilia — a longing to be one with nature. "Biophilia is why sitting on a park bench for 15 minutes can produce such contentment and stress release … Bounding along a woodsy trail induces calmness while improving leg strength, coordination and body awareness."

    So that must be it! Trail runners are looking for that feel good kick! during their work-out — they do not wait for the endorphins to kick in at the end.

    Which is more popular?

    In SA, road running remains the most popular of the two, but recently there has been an increase in trail running participation.

    While it is rather difficult to find a club that specialises in trail running, there are endless clubs that offer road running.

    One club that specialises in trail is CRAG (Cape Runners Against Gravity). They organise social trail running outings, where anyone who is interested can join them on their runs.

    Running is one of the easiest sports to do — that is, with regards to facilities and equipment needed. All you need, for both trail and road running, is a place to run and the correct footwear.

    "When running on tar the most you need to look out for are … drivers, lamp posts, [and] walkers … But avoid those and you can get into a rhythm and move along at a constant pace. Trail running involves running on different, mostly uneven terrains, walking up steep mountains, running on beaches, traversing cliffs faces, scrambling up rocks and nerve racking, knee jarring descents".

    Barry Sickle, of the retailing outlet Footgear, says that in his experience trail footwear makes for a very low percentage of sales. He has found that more people rather buy road running footwear, because its functionality is not restricted to running — you can also wear the footwear, for example to the mall for a two-hour shopping spree, and appreciate the cushioning qualities. Sickle adds that even the most technical of running footwear has started to incorporate fashionable designs, which draw consumers to buy.

    Gordon Howie of The Runner Group says after having dropped trail completely out of his stores two years ago, he is busy bringing them back — but only the technical footwear. His stores specialize in running, and his target market — active participants in running — are not going to buy footwear designed for fashion.

    What happens at events?

    While road runners have come to expect helpers along the way — crowds cheering, people with water, etc. — trail runners have no such luxuries, having to cater for themselves. They carry their survival kit — warm clothing, water, food, a first aid kit and what ever else you think you might need during the race — in a back pack on their backs. There is no-one to turn to when the need strikes, except your fellow runners.

    Perhaps this is another draw card to trail: the lack of the maddening crowd.

    It is difficult to compare road and trail running numbers, since the medium they run in (nature vs urban settings) dictate how many can participate at any one given opportunity. Organisers of trail running events try to minimise the impact of too many people running through nature by limiting entry numbers to the race.

    For example, the 80km Peninsula Ultra Fun Run (Puffer) and (even longer!) Tuffer Puffer are limited to only 125 trail runners. This is because Table Mountain cannot cope with more runners at one time The Three Peaks Challenge had 96 participants in 2004, 105 in 2005, and 84 in 2006.

    The Comrades, on the other hand, can accommodate thousands of entrants due to the fact that the race is run on vast stretches of tarmac.

    Leigh van den Berg, footwear buyer for Totalsports, believes the introduction of extended finishing times and fun-runs of shorter distances have had an influence on the increasing numbers in road running participation.

    The Old Mutual Two Oceans Marathon — started in 1970 and originally intended as a training event for the Comrades Marathon — has seen a decline in entries over the last three years.

    In 2004 (when Chapman’s Peak re-opened) there were 18 066 participants, 2005 had a steep decline with 15 479 participants, and 2006 saw a rise again to 17 544 participants. Of the 17 544 participants in 2006, almost 10 000 participated in the half marathon (7 770 ultra marathon and 9 837 half marathon entrants), which means there were more participants in the half than in the ultra marathon. However, to be fair and put this into perspective, the ultra and half marathon entries were very close in the previous two years — 2004: 9 767 ultra and 8 363 half; 2005: 7 751 ultra and 7 868 half.

    The Comrades Marathon on the other hand had participation figures of 11 364 in 2004, 13 898 in 2005, and 12 066 in 2006.

    It is interesting to note that there are more participants in the Two Oceans than in the Comrades.

    One thing one might deduce from this is that there is a decline in interest among road runners in ultra marathons — the longer, tougher road races, but those that also hold the bigger glory for finishers — with runners opting for the shorter half marathons and other shorter runs.

    Road running races targeted primarily on women, for example the Spar 10km Women’s Challenge Series, have helped to grow the sport in niche markets.

    "Because the [Spar 10km Women’s] Challenge Series is specifically for women, it has encouraged women from all corners of society to take part, without fear of being swamped by men in highly competitive races," says Ian Laxton, consultant to the Spar 10km Women’s Challenge Series3.

    In addition to the 10km run, there is also a 5km fun run as part of the series. Shorter fun-runs make it possible for families with younger children to enter. Both road and trail running races have the shorter track option.

    Both trail and road runners have their fare share of competitions to enter. The Western Cape alone boasts with the Two Oceans Marathon, the Cape Town Gun Run, Community Chest Twighlight Run, the 56km Easter Challenge, and the "Voet" of Africa race, to name the first road running events that come to mind.

    For the trail runner there are the Three Peaks Challenge, the Peninsula Ultra Fun Run (aka Puffer), and the Knysna Forest Marathon.

    Across the country there are 967 road and trail races of varying lengths and difficulty, ranging from ultra marathons to 5km fun runs.


    According to the US Active Outdoor Recreation Economy Report, compiled by the Outdoor Industry Foundation in 2006, there are around 56-m American trail runners — there were 40-m in 2005 with 41% of respondents indicating they participate 11 or more times p/year. Currently trail runners make up 18% of American outdoor participants, and is the third highest group after bicycling (19%) and wildlife viewing (21%). For the full report visit resources.research.recreation.html.

    Performance Sports Retailer reports there has been a remarkable increase in American women participation in road running events — especially the 5km runs. They speculate that because the 5km is less daunting, beginners are more likely to enter.


    While road runners need a feather-light shoe that provides cushioning and motion control, trail runners need the stability and grip of a hiking shoe with the lightness of a running shoe.

    Trail shoes have stiffer soles that are more rigid and offers more protection than ordinary running shoes. The footwear aim to keep feet dry in wet conditions and comfortable on slick terrain, while designed to grip on smooth surfaces and stabilize the feet.

    Trail shoes are especially designed to provide stability, so that you do not sprain your ankle — the chief cause of injury in trail running.

    The industry standard for the lifespan of a running shoe is between 560 and 790kms, with many factors contributing to the lifespan (runner’s weight, style, how often they run, surfaces run on, etc.).

    Trail shoes have to be sturdier than running shoes, because of the greater wear and tear involved in trail running.

    The SA footwear market

    While the road running market is pretty much covered by existing brands, Howie says there is still plenty of room for brands that are new to SA — provided they already have an international name on which to build a marketing campaign and help themget into stores.

    Howie adds that nothing stays the same — the leading brand today might not be the same as the one tomorrow — and that the market is becoming more open to entry by smaller brands due to former top dogs losing interest in running and allowing that part of their range to decline. This gives the newcomers a chance to stake their claimin the market.

    Nor does running or races stay the same: in the US, a new concept of musical marathons have been introduced where runners can set their pace with the help of rock ‘n’ roll bands. New Balance is the official footwear sponsor of this Elite Racing’s series that will be held in 2009.

    The five races are the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego, the Country Music Marathon and Half Marathon in Nashville, the P. F. Chang’s Rock ‘n’ Roll Arizona Marathon and Half Marathon in Phoenix, and the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathons in Virginia Beach and San Jose.


  • Dugard, M. Trail Running for Dummies. October 2005.

  • Trail Running.

  • Bramley, J. Women take the lead in Challenge Series. 7 June 2006.

  • Dzierzak, L. Managing the Human Race: Race Directors and Event Marketing. March 2007.

  • Trail running shoes. December 2006.

  • Cape Town & Western Cape: Running.




  • Feb/ Mar 2009

    The year ahead: 3 Ways to trade better

    A global survey on productivity shows that staff shortages, internal communication problems and a shortage of good supervisors are the main barriers to productivity across the globe.

    (1) Improve productivity

    Worldwide, companies consider training to be integral to improving productivity and are set to invest heavily in training and development.

    The above were some of the key findings in the 8th Global Productivity survey by Proudfoot Consulting, which included more than 1 250 comprehensive interviews with senior officials in companies with annual turnover exceeding $100-m in twelve countries and six industries.

    It found that in the retail sector:

  • Managers think their companies could potentially increase productivity by 11.9% over the next two years;

  • Retail managers surveyed cited high staff turnover (25%) and low employee motivation and morale (24%) as the top two barriers to improved productivity;

  • Technology is seen as a key to improved productivity in the retail sector. 64% of retail managers surveyed reported their companies plan to drive productivity improvements over the next 12 months by increasing capital expenditures on IT and communications technology;

  • Workers and managers in the retail sector receive less training days than the global norm and almost half (46%) see this level as insufficient;

  • Managers currently spend 46.5% of their time on administrative tasks, the highest level of any sector studied and equivalent to 2.3 days per work week.

  • The survey found that productivity is increasing in SA: 23% of the SA managers surveyed reported that their companies experienced productivity increases of more than 15% in 2007, classifying them as “High Performers.” This is 4th highest of all countries surveyed.

    Yet, SA managers surveyed think their companies could improve their productivity by an average of 16.1% over the next two years, over two points above the global norm. The same managers, however, believe the actual productivity gains realised will only be 10.5%, leaving almost 35% of the potential productivity gains untapped.

    Main barriers to productivity identified by SA respondents are:

  • Staff shortages and insufficient labour pools (37%)

  • Legislative issues (33%)

  • Quality of supervisors (31%)

  • General work force unable (23%) and unmotivated (20%) to adopt change programmes

  • Internal communication (20%)

  • High staff turnover and low employee morale

  • SA compared to the rest of world:

  • #1 world: SA managers planning to embrace a performance methodology (75%)

  • #1 world: SA quality of supervisors is key barrier to productivity

  • #1 world (10 points above norm): SA companies plan to invest in work force training (91%)

  • #1 world: SA workers receive most days of training (16 days on average)

  • #2 world: SA companies plan to invest in programs to boost staff morale (71%)

  • #4th world: 23% SA managers increase productivity more 15%

  • 2 points above norm: SA managers believe can improve productivity by 16%

  • Lowest (10 points below norm): SA managers saying it is easy to communicate to the work force (67%)

  • Lowest (17 points below norm): Companies formally and regularly assess the effectiveness of staff training (46%).

  • (2) Know your customers

    A major US study on consumer behaviour showed that as few as 2.5% of shoppers are responsible for 80% of sales — not the 20% of shoppers that marketers previously targeted

    Retailers wanting to improve sales need to identify and find ways to attract those 2.5% pivotal point consumers responsible for 80% of sales to their stores.

    The US study, Discovering the Pivotal Point Consumer, by the Pointer Media Network for the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) Council tracked the purchasing behaviour of nearly 54-m American shoppers over a 12-month period.

    They found that only 25 out of the more than 1 300 product brands analysed relied on more than 10% of shoppers to drive 80% of sales and that increased brand fragmentation, including line extensions from existing flagship brand names, has reduced customer concentrations, rather than bolster brand affinity.

    The data shows that you do not necessarily have to win over a large consumer base to launch a new product — the trick is to find the key customers, and direct your marketing at them.

    Maybe they are amongst the emerging consumer markets.

  • Consumers are staying healthier and active for much longer — 60-65 year olds might be old enough to retire, but they are still young enough to run, cycle, climb, row, play squash, go to the gym etc. Plus, they have the time and money to engage in these activities. According to the Unilever Institute of Strategic Marketing SA consumers aged 40 and more account for 20% consumer spend (R300-bn disposable income). These consumers do not enjoy being bombarded by loud music, want good lighting to see what they buy and expect shop assistants to be able to answer questions about products. Their shopping needs are quite different to those of the teenage mall crawlers;

  • Worldwide studies show that consumers want to shop with a conscience (see p60) because they care if the retailer or brand they support has eco- and human-friendly values. According to the international trend research company NPD the number of people interested in buying environmentally sound goods have grown by 300% over the past five years;

  • Women are growing in importance as consumers in the sporting goods market and women-specific stores is a trend of the future. Research has shown that especially when buying sports clothes, women do not like being assisted by male shop assistants and they often feel intimidated shopping in stores where “male sport” products like rugby dominate;

  • The black middle class is growing rapidly — whether they are called Black Diamonds (Unilever Institute study) or Onyx Market (TGI SA database), their number grew to 3.7-m in 2008 (from 2-m in 2004) and according to the Unilever Institute, their annual spending power is R185-bn. A market study by TGI shows that there are many reasons why this consumer group is one of the most important consumer markets: at an average age of 32, they are eight years younger than the average white consumer, they outnumber whites in alcohol consumption, Internet usage, and owning a generator. Motor vehicle ownership, sport participation and recreational activities, however, are still far below that of whites.

  • (3) Cater for your top 2.5% shoppers

    Retail survival now depends on meeting each consumer’s unique demands. Chain stores can now, just like the independent retailers, get to know their customers as individuals by analysing sales data, Alexi Sarnevitz, senior director retail strategy at SAS Global Retail Practice* said during a presentation in Cape Town, titled Embracing Customer-Centric Retailing to Deliver Top Line Growth

    In the first half of the 21st century retailing was customer-centred: a retailer knew the names of his customers and he stocked what they needed, says Sarnewitz. There was a personal relationship between retailer and customer, the retailer recognised the customer and his preferences, and because he understood his customer’s needs, he could offer relevant value (still the core strengths of most of the SA industry’s thousands of independent stores).

    With the growth of chain store merchandising, the owners and merchandisers of large retail chains no longer get to meet their customers, and can therefore no longer provide products to cater for their specific tastes — instead, a single product assortment at one price point is selected for every store in the chain, with only a few deviations allowed. The salesperson, who might, or might not, get to know the customers and their demands, has very little influence on purchasing decisions.

    But, worldwide, consumers are indicating that they no longer want the sameness offered by the mass market, says Sarnewitz. They yearn for the customer-centred product offering and service of the small store… which chains can offer them through the use of the latest data collection technology. For example, it can help the mass retailer to:

  • Understand his customers: What do they buy? How do they like to buy? Who buys what? Instead of classifying a store per sales volume and the demographics of the area, stores should be “clustered” according to individual purchasing patterns based on accurate basket analysis — and items preferred by the locals allocated more shelf space, suggests Sarnewitz;

  • Offer relevant value: tailor the product assortments in the store to satisfy local customer demand by analysing individual baskets, and have localised pricing. For example, analysis of sales in a US store indicated that they should discontinue a certain kind of bread that was a very mediocre seller — but when individual customer baskets were analysed, it was found that the bread was bought by the store’s most regular and most profitable customers … and they all bought this particular bread every time they visited the store. Only through basket analysis did the store owner realise that the particular bread was a destinational item for his most valued customers;

  • Personalize marketing: interact with the consumer via the internet — alert them to specials on items they like to buy, or the arrival of new ranges from a brand they bought in the past;

  • Interact with customers in real-time — for example, via mobile phone, or offer customers computer access in-store to view additional product information, or promotional information;

  • Maintain accurate data and information about products and customers — for example, that John Smith is the same customer as JP Smith, and also keep track of store supplies so that you don’t miss out on potential sales when you run out of stock of an item that unexpectedly sells well.

  • Customer data analysis have been used by successful retailers to obtain:

  • Analytics to analyse the key performance indicators of your stores as well as competitors in order to retain customers. The Tesco retail chain was one of the pioneers to tailor their product assortment to their customers’ needs. Even an independent retailer, who conducts thousands of transactions per month, will benefit from automated data collection to record and analyse sales, which will help him when making stock purchases or want to change store displays, he says.

  • Kohl, the US department store group with more than 900 stores and an annual turnover of $16-bn, for example, use technology to understand the needs of each of their individual stores, says Sarnevitz. This not only enables them to forecast and plan merchandise accurately, based on changing sales profiles per store, but they can also plan markdowns appropriate for the product levels in each individual store.

  • Kroger, the massive US grocery chain with 2 400 stores and annual turnover of $70-bn, use an analysis of customers’ baskets to plan specific product promotions in each store.

  • *SAS is an international company, also represented in SA, that supplies business analytics software and services like the SAS Intelligent Clustering for Retail or SAS Demand-Driven Forecasting.

    April 2006

    What inflatable mattresses can do for sales

    Inflatable mattresses offer the retailer, as well as his customers, many benefits. There are plenty of reasons to stock them, recommends MARK JOHNSTON

    There’s nothing wrong with the good ol’ closed cell pad (or thermal roll as many of us like to call them). They’re warm, weigh practically nothing and are remarkably robust, making them the perfect companions for a cross country stomp or camping holiday. Best of all they’re cheap. There’s a catch, of course: they’re also darn uncomfortable. Whether you’re lying on your back, your front, your side or curled up in a little ball, there is simply no way you can get one centimetre of blue foam to feel like your beloved Sealy Posturpedic.

    Enter the inflatable mattress.

    Forming what is effectively a cushion of air between you and the ground, inflatables offer a vastly more comfortable night’s sleep. They’re also far more forgiving on bumpy, uneven surfaces, since the top layer remains pretty much flat even if the bottom is molded over a small scale model of the Alps.

    King of comfort

    Caveats? Like balloons, bicycle tyres and inflatable pool toys, blow-up mattresses are prone to going "pop!" if not looked after correctly (read: dragged through prickly fynbos or laid down on sharp rocks).

    Inflatable mats tend to be heavier than thermal rolls. They’re also much more pricey than their plain foam brethren, with some top-end inflatables costing over R1000.

    But despite all of these potential drawbacks, inflatable mattresses are still king when it comes to comfort.

    Are hikers and campers catching on? You bet!

    "The demand for inflatable mattresses seems to be growing all the time," says John Fontyn of Eiger Equipment, importer of the popular Thermal Comfort range.

    According to Fontyn, who started importing Thermal Comfort in 2002, sales were good right from the start, but in the last two years the increase has been "crazy" (Eiger moved a whopping 2200 units in the last financial year, making Thermal Comfort by far the best-selling inflatable mat in South Africa).

    What has precipitated this amazing growth?

    "We’ve got the balance right," says Fontyn. "Thermal Comfort offers a product that is both lightweight and affordable".

    When inflatable mattresses first arrived in the country many people were put off by the increased weight and hefty price tags. But improvements in technology coupled with a stronger rand have seen a reduction in weight and cost, making inflatable mats a far more attractive option.

    While the most noticeable growth has been at the more affordable end of the market, it’s also pleasing to note that premium brands have also experienced an increase in sales.

    Geoff Ward of Outward Ventures, who imports well-known inflatable range, Therm-a-Rest, says he’s also noticed a growing demand for his mattresses. And not just the cheaper ones. Top-of-the-range models like the Therm-a-Rest Prolite 4 (which costs around R1000) are selling well, and there have even been some sales of the R2000 Dreamtime mattress. It seems the market simply can’t get enough of inflatable mats.

    Clearly any outdoor and camping shop worth their salt needs to stock inflatable mattresses. But what are the implications for retailers?

    The biggest plus is naturally increased turnover. Inflatables sell for considerably more than foam mats, which means that without even adjusting your mark-up you can rake in more dosh.

    And what about margins? In theory you could get away with upping your mark-up on an inflatable since it’s an expensive item, so a slight increase in price will often go unnoticed. That said, it’s a fiercely competitive market out there, and customers are getting increasingly savvy about where they spend their shekels, so hiking prices might not be to your advantage.

    Another benefit of inflatable mats is that they actually take up less store space than closed cell pads. When deflated and packed in their stuff sack, many are no larger than a rugby ball, so they stack neatly and easily onto shelves.

    Display stock

    The real challenge comes with displaying your inflatable stock. Rolled up in a bag an inflatable mattress means very little to the customer, and if you want to convert people to the joys of inflatables, you’re going to need some blown-up samples on standby. The most popular method of doing this is to hang said mattresses with the display sleeping bags (i.e. with coat hangers on a rail).

    This has its pros and cons. On the upside, this approach saves on space. The downside is that it’s not so easy to compare models while they’re hanging, and taking each sample out can become tedious.

    Simon Larsen of RAM Mountaineering offers a clever solution for his Insul Mat series — a special mattress stand that allows you to stack up to five samples in a neat, easy-to-use manner.

    Another key area that needs attention is staff training. Cheap items like closed cell pads are easy to move off the shelves, as the people buying them usually base their decision on price.

    However, when you start selling more specialist items like inflatable mats, it pays to have staff who know the products well and are able to punt the benefits to a potential customer. In this respect some of the importers are doing a sterling job, offering dedicated staff training as part of the deal when retailers buy their stock.

    Insul Mat have also come up with a novel way of helping staff — and customers — to get their heads around inflatable mattresses’ many advantages: a sample mat with key points and features actually printed onto it.

    Finally, retailers also need to think carefully about the selection of mattresses they want to carry.

    There is a big choice: from inflatable camping mattresses such as Bestway, to the more specialist self-inflating hiking mats from guys like Thermal Comfort. And it gets even more complicated: some of the brands like Therm-a-Rest and Insul Mat offer a wide choice of options within their ranges, from high tech mountaineering or adventure racing mats, and even women-specific designs.

    Clearly it would be a tad ambitious to try and stock the whole bang shoot.

    But the opposite also applies: offering only one or two models is really doing a disservice to your customer, since the options you carry, may not be the best choice for their specific needs.

    April/ May 2009

    Winning kids & youths as customers

    Selling shoes for “kids” means treading into a complex, sensitive, very age and gender specific market. Youth trend analysts explain the intricacies of selling and marketing to this hugely important market

    Youngsters are extremely sensitive about their ages: a ten-year-old is MUCH older than a seven-year-old, and fourteen-year-olds will be mortified to be lumped together with twelve-year-olds. To dare suggest that an eight-year-old is on par with a pre-school six-year-old would be unwise — and to treat a six-year-old the same as a BABY of four, would be met with disdain.

    Yet, when it comes to footwear, the label kids is supposed to cater for everyone from four to fourteen, depending on their shoe size.

    Big mistake, said Ingo Barlovic, Executive Director of Iconkids & Youth International Research, at the Kids Business Brunch lecture held during the recent GDS footwear & accessories trade show in Düsseldorf, Germany.

    Especially, since the kids market is huge.

    People will go without holidays and other luxuries, but they will spend money on their offspring. And since young feet are constantly growing, the shoe market is a regular recipient of this spending. “Children have money, children have incredible power when it comes to shopping, and shoe retailers still don’t appreciate them sufficiently,” warned Barlovic. According to him, the six-nineteen-year-olds in Germany spend about €4.42-bn on shoes and clothing per year.

    What is more, their lifelong shopping habits, and brand preferences, are formed between the ages of twelve-sixteen… lose them at that young stage, and you lose them for life.

    He cited several consumer studies showing how brand preferences formed in the teenage years stay with people for the rest of their lives. That is why the Baby Boomers, who were teens in the sixties, still wear denim jeans and get nostalgic when they hear Beatles songs… and will still be partial to them when they move into old age homes.

    Children aged eight-nine do not yet have entrenched brand preferences and will still hop and shop around, he says, but from age eleven-twelve their likes and dislikes become far more entrenched. A brand — or store — that does not appeal to fourteen-sixteen-year-olds has also lost tomorrow’s shoppers.

    Yet, says Barlovic, shoe retailers are still not doing enough to turn this important target group into more loyal shoppers.

    Most shoe stores have a children’s section, and the rest of the store is dedicated to adults. “But where does the twelve-year-old go? Where does the fifteen-year-old shop? If your store does not attract teenagers, they will not return to shop with you once they become adults. If teenagers can’t find the shoes they look for in your store, they’ll go to a store where they will find them — and keep on shopping in that store.”

    Why do they buy?

    “Chaotic shoe stores with a hotch-potch of departments should be a thing of the past,” says Barlovic.

    A store that wants to successfully cater for the kids market must take into account that the tastes, needs and shopping habits can vary tremendously. Children is by no means a homogeneous market sector that you can simply classify by shoe size.

    Age and gender play a major role in what children like, and to make it even more difficult to cater for this market, target age groups can be as short as a year or two.

    Also, pre-teen boys live in completely different worlds to pre-teen girls.

    Also, don’t make the mistake of believing that you have to sell to parents in order to clad their offspring’s feet. Even the young ones have opinions when it comes to choosing shoes, says Barlovic. For example, European studies show that about 70% of six-year-olds have their own way when shopping for shoes.

    “Young children determine what shoe design they want, as they get older they decide the brand — and all children have the power of refusal when they don’t want something,” he says.

    Even when mothers do make the choice, they do not only consider factors like price, durability, practicality etc. In one German survey 98% mothers said that their kids’ welfare is the most important factor when buying for them, says Barlovic.

    Nearly three-quarters of the mothers surveyed said they wanted to show off with their kids when they bought items for them, and 86% admitted that admiration for their children also reflected well on them… and buying clothes and shoes for their children presented the most visible way of showing off their kids.

    Kids (or rather, young people) of all ages buy shoes and clothes for the look and feel and design, the quality really makes no difference, especially since they must have something new all the time. They want diversity, not durability.

    They also want clear product information, an age-related approach when goods are displayed, variety in offering and an acknowledgement of their basic age and gender-specific needs… whether that is in-store or through advertising marketing.

    Themed worlds

    “Regularly offer all of the target groups something new, alternate your ranges and — above all — create experience realms in your stores to address the needs and tastes of your young clientele in a very personal manner,” recommends Barlovic.

    Years ago a study found that bookstores with kids’ corners filled with soft, cuddly toys failed — until they introduced themed designs incorporating characters from popular books, he continues. Introducing characters like Harry Potter or Asterix create a new world — not merely a nice and beautiful cuddly area, but a totally different world.

    It is important to remember that children only play along with you if you show that you take them seriously, Stefan Bollert, owner of management consulting firm Lizco, told a Kids Business Brunch held during the 2008 March GDS show.

    “Only those things that play a role in children’s worlds today and fulfil their current needs are accepted by them.”

    In other words, My Little Pony, so beloved by girls sixteen years ago, will mean nothing to modern youngsters.

    When using animated characters in presentation or advertising, make sure that they look age appropriate. Barlovic used a bear as an example: two-four-year-olds want a bear to look like a teddy bear, but as they grow older, children’s perception of what a bear looks like changes. To interest fourteen-sixteen-year-olds in a bear, it must look comical, but not gross.

    A TV-series like Takalani Sesame would appeal to the very young, but even pre-teens watch the decidedly more adult anime movies. And beware of sell by dates: Dragonball Z, for example, has passed its prime.

    Themed characters that will appeal to the different age groups, according to Barlovic:

  • Girls (in Germany): Sponge Bob, then Tokio Hotel, Heidi Klum and the cartoon character Lilly Fee (aged 6-9). Thereafter High School Musical, Hannah Montana, Idols and Heidi Klum.

  • Boys: all ages — sport stars. Under 10’s like Sponge Bob, then The Simpsons. At thirteen-fourteen-years they watch crime series like CSI. From seventeen-year-old sport stars share their affection with Angelina Jolie. Boys think Tokio Hotel lead singer Bill Kaulitz is a “daisy and a wimp”.

  • Linking a product or marketing campaign to a pop or sport star can work — but it can also backfire if there is a scandal or the star loses their appeal (e.g. Britney Spears). They must also fit the type of store and target market.

    Add a gift

    How do you convince kids to eat health foods? asks Barlovic. “You add a gift.” Therefore, if a kid buys a Hannah Montana watch, why not add a sticker book?”

    Stickers and sticker books are especially successful marketing tools, because girls would want to collect as many as possible to fill the book.

    But, if you advertise that you are giving a gift like a CD away with each purchase, make sure that you include that CD with every one. “There are many things you can do to attract these customers — as long as you do it well and properly, otherwise it will backfire,” warns Barlovic.

    The kids market is getting smaller, as kids nowadays behave like youths at a much earlier age. They act like the older age group at a younger-and-younger age, therefore rather err on treating them as part of an older, rather than younger, group.

    This is just an extension of the way society looks at young people, even babies. For example, years ago a good baby was round and soft and gurgling happily, says Barlovic, “now we want babies to go to crèche, to learn languages at an early age. Now we look at a baby and see a potential future CEO.”

    How to target the age groups

    Young kiddies

    1-5 years: The mother and child shop together for this age group, and should be addressed as a team, instead of implying that mother knows best.

    Barlovic recommends plenty of visual stimuli, signage and an environment where the child will feel comfortable and willing to interact with the sales person — for example, with the cartoon characters that are the flavour of the day. The sales pitch should be easy understandable (even for the child) and the sales person should be willing to repeat the message.

    These young kids have not yet formed brand preferences and their parents normally decide to buy shoes based on price and quality — or because they think it looks cute (see article above).

    Five-year-olds are crèche kids. They get to know the cartoon favourite of the day and feel comfortable among figures and posters of them.

    The favourite colours of girls aged 4-5 is shades of pink, while boys like blue, some green and brown.

    6-8 years: Six-year-olds already consider shoes a kind of status symbol and they would make their wishes known in no uncertain terms. They know the effect of “I want to have that!”

    Although mother and child shop together, they are two different target markets — but most mothers will let the kid make the final choice. “McDonald’s created a happy middle ground by giving kids the choice with a happy meal — but offer them the choice: do you want a Coke or a Fanta? They give power to the kid by giving him the final choice,” explains Barlovic.

    Girls of this age still play with dolls and still like pink, but the seven-year-olds already want things less pink and pretty. They no longer want to watch sweet Teletubbies cartoons, but like cartoon characters that are rude and often violent.

    They decorate the walls in their rooms with posters of horses and other animals and they care about planet earth and the creatures that inhabit it.

    In-betweeners (Tweenies)

    9-11 years: This age group, says Barlovic, are no longer babies and want to be treated like serious shoppers. But beware, they are never happy with anything. They think grown-ups, and everything they suggest, are stupid, says Barlovic.

    These girls want to be cool. They are guided by what their friends believe are in or out and they would rather go barefoot than wear something that is too childish or last year. It is extremely important to get the colours, motifs, and star association absolutely right, explains Bollert.

    Girls of nine no longer want pink and soft and cuddly sweet kids’ products. Music is important to them — for example, High School Musical images on clothes and shoes are still OK… when they get older, it becomes embarrassing.

    They read music magazines, and know everything about Hannah Montana.

    They want to listen to boy bands, not play with dolls. In Germany a band like Tokio Hotel is popular with this age group because the androgynous looks of Bill Kaulitz (the lead singer) is non-threatening as he is not in any way sexual. It is therefore safe to fantasize about him, says Barlovic.

    Girls of this age describe themselves as fashion-conscious, bitchy and romantic and they want to grow up to become veterinarians or doctors.

    Boys describe themselves as strong, loud and cheeky, and they want to grow up to become music or soccer stars. They think football is cool, but they also listen to Eminem. They are not yet fashion conscious; their main concern is basically just to cope with life.

    11-13 years: These are the true tweenies — not yet teens, but certainly no longer kids. They are cool — but you can’t sell this kind of cool to the sixteen-year-old, who has a different kind of cool.

    For thirteen-year-olds idols and symbols are decisive when making purchasing decisions — especially in sport, music, media or show business. “Trends originate in the virtual world of TV, young people’s magazines and the Internet,” says Bollert. “Anyone who pays attention to these trends can structure their product range accordingly and — coupled with a good sales strategy — increase their stock turnover.”

    Disney, in the form of High School Musical or Hannah Montana, can still touch this age group, but not all Disney characters or movies will be acceptable.

    “Girls looove shoes because, oh, there are sooo many styles to choose from, sooo many brands… and, oh, the colours!” mimics Barlovic.

    Girls want to try different styles because they are still trying to establish what they really want. They no longer want pink and soft colours, their favourite colours are stronger reds and yellows.

    But, boys of 11 still have other priorities and will spend hardly any money on fashion — for them shoes are ranked 4-5th in terms of importance… they are not so concerned with style, colour and design, but, wearing the right brands adds prestige.

    For boys life revolves around how to get him. While they are obsessed with sport, they now also start to like cool music. They still prefer colours like blue, brown and green, but in darker shades.

    Suddenly, when they turn 12 or 13, fashion is at the top of the list (for girls as well). Now they simply HAVE to have the fashions worn by the stars, says Barlovic.


    14-16 years: These mall crawlers need the scope and freedom to browse, comment, try on and compare at their leisure. For them, shopping is an outing and form of entertainment, which they often do in groups. The sales person should be discreet when offering assistance, without making them feel unwelcome.

    These kids are really cool, they want to be the first to wear a new style or brand. They want to set the pace, not imitate.

    They like stores where new products, or the latest designs and styles, are introduced frequently. Girls read fashion magazines and a real fashion sense starts to develop at age 14.

    For boys the big question is: how important is sex?

    They can’t care less about sustainability and creating waste, nor how and by whom shoes or clothes have been made — as long as it looks good.

    17-18 years: This age group already has grown-up tastes — boys’ rooms feature posters for beer alongside the sport stars. Girls wear grown-up styles.

    Barlovic’s research company asked seventeen-eighteen-year-old Germans about luxury brands — a few years ago most of them aspired to these brands, now they consider them uncool, just a disguise; not for me.

    “Except in communities from third world countries, where they still aspire to these brands.”

    Outsider is no longer a term used to describe a loser. Outsider is now the one outside the group, the one wearing Armani, because the ones inside the group feel “I can’t go up to a guy in Armani and just talk to him”.

    Based on this feedback and the research showing that brand preferences are imprinted by age 17, Barlovic predicts that in 10-20 years from now, luxury brands could be in trouble. “There will be an anti-luxury brand consumer attitude.”

    February 2008

    Winning teams sell replica
    How to plan stock without a crystal ball?

    Since the week of 13-20 October 2007 no South African can doubt the powerful influence of a team’s performance on the sale of replica jerseys. Cast your minds back: think about the number of customers asking for Springbok replica or supporter jerseys, how fast stock sold out, how demand far out-stripped expectations and how just about every South African showed their colours of support in the week before and after the Springboks’ World Cup win

    Think back two weeks earlier when the Springboks were playing their quarter-final match… even though our team was doing well, there was no indication of the replica-hysteria to follow. Supporter jersey sales were as expected: fair, but not extraordinay.

    Which proves that doing well does not necessarily sell replica. But that national/provincial/team pride swells in such tsunami-like waves when the prospect of We are the champions looms, that every new and old supporter are desperate to wear their team’s colours.

    Even now, four months later, supporters are still proudly wearing Springbok replica jerseys as casualwear and tourists ask for the World Champion jersey on a regular basis. The best news is that this enthusiasm even extends to the players’ replica jersey with many of the bells and whistles the players enjoyed, that retails for R800-R1 000.

    The snag is, of course, that it is impossible to predict which teams are going to emerge as champions and to plan stock accordingly.

    "If the Springboks were knocked out in the quarter final, we would have been left with about 50% of our stock," says Dave Linder, MD of Fifth Element, which now also own the SA rights to Canterbury.

    While there was hardly any legitimate Springbok jerseys left for sale in South Africa or France a day or two before the final … you could not give an All Black jersey away in Paris, says Linder. Yet, before the competition started, most French retailers would have felt comfortable stocking up on the favourites’ jerseys.

    Glory lingers

    By now, retailers should be used to the fact that winning sells and that everybody suffers with losers. Sometimes this demand for stock can last well past expectations.

    Eight months after the Blue Bulls became the 2007 Super 14 champions, there was still a huge demand for Blue Bulls supporter jerseys. "In December and January (a month or two before the start of the new Super 14-competition) we sold more than 300 Blue Bulls jerseys," says Lineze Wilson, manager of Sportoria, trading from the Blue Bulls headquarters at Loftus.

    This trend was, however, reversed when the Bulls were struggling during the Currie Cup competition and the shirt demand was low.

    Changes to shirts also contribute to sales, Wilson believes, because supporters want to wear the latest. The Bulls, for example, change their jerseys every two years and this also drives sales.

    This trend continues across sporting codes. "Performance of the team has a definite impact on the sale of replica’s — one could almost track it on a monthly basis," says Andrew Robinson, marketing manager of Diadora SA, suppliers of 2007 PSL league winners Mamelodi Sundowns team and supporters jerseys. "In the months that they perform well we do experience greater demand for product and increased sales."

    Towards the end of the season when it became apparent that Sundowns was going to end top of the PSL log, sales further increased as fans wanted to show the world that they are associated with a winning team.

    Although sales slowed down during the off-season, there was a high demand for the Diadora Sundowns shirts right from the start of the new season.

    But, while wins increase demand, "there is always a core of loyal supporters who will purchase and wear the replica irrespective of performance," says Robinson.

    Big game fever

    Another factor that influences sales, he says, are the so called big games i.e. against Chiefs and Pirates. "There is a definite increase in demand and sales before such games."

    It is not only really big wins — like a series or tournament — that translate into supporter item sales. According to Millé brand manager Roger Ragbar, sales of Golden Arrows replica increase whenever their team win a high-profile match, for example against Orlando Pirates or Sundowns recently.

    As can be expected, Golden Arrows’ sales peak in areas close to their home ground, Lamontville stadium, and are doing very well in the rest of KwaZulu Natal, but there is a demand for supporter jerseys all over the country.

    "Supporters move to other areas, there seem to be a lot of movement of people," says Ragbar. Therefore, although they move to another geographical area, supporters remain true to their team and show their colours wherever they are.

    Support other teams

    Reebok, however, found that fans of other teams would cross-support when, for example, Bloemfontein Celtic plays in a neutral match. "You won’t find a Pirates supporter ever wearing Chiefs’ colours, but he may support Celtic in a neutral match," says PR manager Deane Nothard.

    But, the impressive replica sales from their Bloem Celtic and AmaZulu teams are good examples of how a winning culture is important, he says.

    "Based on official home crowd attendance for all league games in 2007, Bloem Celtic (ending in the top eight) had the highest attendance rate of any of the PSL teams at an average of 15 786 per home game."

    AmaZulu are another very popular local team, currently sitting mid-table in the PSL. "True supporters seem to be backing Usuthu as they search for the consistent form their potential warrants. However, for both teams, winning a major trophy will certainly have a significant impact on sales."

    This cross-team support is also evident in rugby. The Western Force team in the Super 14 competition seem to be a honeymoon side that attracts support whether they win or lose, says Ian Wright, supplier of ISC supporter replica. "Supporters seem to like the fact that they are doing so much better now after ending bottom of the log in their first season."

    Or could it be that they are based in Perth, SAs 10th province?

    International appeal

    Interestingly, tourists from other countries create another market for replica jerseys as they are keen to take local football team jerseys home as souvenirs, says Ragbar.

    On the other hand, there is a definite local demand for foreign team jerseys amongst South Africans — as the requests for Italy jerseys showed after their 2006 World Cup win, says kit sponsor Puma SA’s marketing mananger, Brett Bellinger.

    Sales of official licensed or branded products are emotional, says Vivian Casaleti, ex-brand manager for Kaizer Chiefs FC and now MD of SLAM, SAFA Master Licensees, who also have the commercial rights to the Bafana Bafana brand. "They are driven by passion and loyalty, and the more your team wins, the more you want to show your association and be part of a winning team."

    But, forget about trying to sell a supporter a team jersey, cap, scarf, magazine or even insurance policy associated with the team the day after they loose or perform badly, she advises.

    After all, when the team performs well, people say: we played well, we won, she observes.

    "But when they loose, they played terrible or they have no strikers etc … this clearly demonstrates how we relate to sport. At the same time it shows the undeniable passion we have for our teams, especially our national teams."

    Losing losses

    While winning teams across the world show how everyone benefits from success, England’s national football team’s failure to qualify for Euro 2008 is costing Umbro, retailers and the UK economy dearly.

    The day after Croatia knocked England out of the competition, shares in one of the UKs biggest retailers, Sports Direct, fell 8.6%. Sports Direct at that stage owned 30% of Umbro shares and had an agreement to take 65% (or 1.8-m) of the national team shirts sold in England (see box: Nike buys Umbro).

    Kit supplier Umbro was, however, the hardest hit by the team’s failure, with some analysts predicting that it could cost them as much as £14-m in lost replica sales. Despite their agreement, Sports Direct drastically cut down on orders and Umbro on production. Instead of the annual 3-m England shirts, Umbro will only produce 1-m England shirts for the coming season, The Guardian reported.

    The England team’s (lack of) performance is, however, expected to have a knock-on effect that is expected to cost the UK Football Association (FA) and the country £2-bn, reports Jeff Thames in Sports Insight magazine. The FA will lose an estimated £15-m in sponsorship deals — many of them performance related — media payments, merchandise sales and prize money, while the economy will lose an estimated £2-bn from the drop in food and beverage, merchandise, magazine and newspaper sales.

    How to make sure you have stock

    From the above it is clear that the services of a Sangoma or a crystal ball will be about as much help as accurate planning to make sure that you always have the correct amount of stock to supply to team supporters. Their needs are clearly well-nigh as unpredictable as the result of a match.

    Therefore, how to plan?

    A good relationship with kit suppliers is an advantage as you would then be included in any contingency plans.

    While Springbok replica stocks were low a day or two before the final as the whole country donned green and gold, Canterbury really came to the party when the country wanted to celebrate our becoming world champions.

    They took a gamble and partly printed new batches of Springbok shirts, leaving space for the World Champion message and image of the trophy. As soon as the final whistle blew at 11 o’clock on the night of October 20th, Canterbury started printing the message.

    "The first trucks with stock left the next morning by 9am and by lunch time on the Sunday our key customers, with whom we made prior arrangements, could start selling the World Champion shirts," says Dave Linder, MD of Fifth Element.

    Everybody benefitted through this flexibility. But, had the Bokke lost, they would have had to work hard to off-load the stock over the next few years.

    During the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany adidas also had to make emergency arrangements to supplement the 800 000 supporters jerseys they had printed — a generous number, they thought, as they normally sell about 300 000 shirts in an average year. In the end they sold 1.2-m German team supporters shirts.

    Therefore, even though international team supporters jerseys are usually manufactured in Asian countries to supply to the whole world, brands could make prior arrangements with local manufacturers to supplement stock.

    "We are a just-in-time manaufacturer that can print, make and deliver a few thousands shirts or jerseys in a few days," says Gary Blakey, marketing manager of Paarl-based Genuine Connection Promotions. "We can supplement stock in a very fast turnaround time."

    There are many SA apparel and teamwear manufacturers that can make jerseys at short notice. See p93 as well as pp5-14 of the 2008 Sports Trader Activewear, Sport and Outdoor Directory.

    Getting stock to the team

    A major sports tournament not only generates sales of replicas, but the kit sponsor has to make sure that the players get what they need.

    During the World Cup, Canterbury had to deliver three sets of gear per game to a squad of rugby players of diverse sizes and positions travelling between countries — no mean feat considering that the final squads are only announced a few days before the match!

    During the World Cup competition the Springboks required 462 sets of clothing in total. Canterbury International supplied the kits for five of the teams in the World Cup: South Africa, Australia, Scotland, Ireland and Japan — and while not all teams played as many matches as the winning Bokke, the logistics are daunting.

    "Canterbury set up a warehouse from where the kits would be dispatched to the team hotels within 24 hours of team announcements, just like they would dispatch supplies to retailers from any other warehouse," explains Dave Linder, MD of Canterbury SA.

    Apart from having to get the correct number embroidered on the correct size jersey, Canterbury also supplied different design jerseys to players in different positions.

    Every ‘Bok used two sets of clothing, as they changed jerseys during half time, but also needed a third set in case a jersey or short were damaged. "It is a tribute to the quality of our garments that no jerseys or shorts were damaged," says Linder.

    August 2007

    World Cup? What World Cup?!

    BEVAN FRANK investigates whether the Twenty20 and Rugby World Cups will have an impact on the sale of replicas and memorabilia

    Next month two South African teams, each with a huge following, will be competing in World Cups. For retailers, World Cups usually mean good sales of teamwear replica, mascots and all kinds of memorabilia to remind the fans of the good times they had in the host country.

    Yet, maybe because we had the main Cricket World Cup earlier this year in the West Indies, or maybe because of what seems to be rather poor marketing, many people don’t even know that there is a Twenty20 World Cup taking place in September.

    Even though the Twenty20 World Cup will be played on home soil, it seems unlikely that more stock than usual will be created for the tournament.

    Home tournaments normally result in increased sales of merchandise and replica, but South Africa playing host to the cricket tournament will not be on a par at all with major tournaments held in other countries, such as the last Soccer World Cup held in Germany.

    "The last Soccer World Cup had maybe 10 teams’ replica shirts available from different brands, a whole bunch of caps and adidas made four or five different quality soccer ball replicas available," Mike Hermanson of Cricket Horizons explains.

    "Taking into account that we, as the official licensed merchandisers of the Cricket World Cup held in SA in 2003, began the design, sampling and manufacturing programme in June 2002 of twelve different cricket products including mini bats, sets, cabinets, key rings, poly-soft balls, sponge balls etc. for the event beginning nine months later. The process to produce memorabilia on a major scale for the Twenty20 World Cup would have had to begin at least in January this year.

    "To be frank, merchandise for the Twenty20 have not yet been offered to any of the major players in this market. We will obviously continue to support Hummel as the official suppliers of the Proteas and Nike as the official suppliers of the Indian team shirts.

    "But there will only be an increase in sales if SA wins the tournament," says Hermanson. "Like all things South African, we hang on to things we achieve in and forget immediately the things we don’t achieve in. Who remembers, or who has ever watched, a replay of us embarrassing ourselves against Australia in the 2007 CWC semi-final?"

    Another factor is that cricket memorabilia is just not as popular as rugby memorabilia. "For cricket, it’s just about one shirt," says Arnold de Villiers of Sportsmans Warehouse. "We don’t even stock merchandise for many of the provincial cricket teams. There is simply no demand. Even the national cricket shirt is not as popular as the rugby jersey."

    As has been the case in other major cricket tournaments, Hermanson expects the cricket shirts to be the main sellers in the forthcoming September tournament.

    This sentiment is shared by Jaap Engelbrecht of Somerset Sport who believes that the playing shirt will be a big seller for both the Twenty20 Cricket and Rugby World Cups, as they have been in previous sporting tournaments.

    Rugby World Cup

    In rugby generally, all memorabilia can result in big sales.

    "The fact that the Rugby World Cup is not being played in SA will obviously result in less sales than what would have been the case if we hosted the tournament," says De Villiers. "Not much can be done from here to ensure more sales other than having the tournament locally! People aren’t going to buy jerseys just to wear while sitting in front of the TV!"

    Sportsmans Warehouse is still going ahead and getting more stock for the tournament anyway. The recently launched players’ jersey by Canterbury is expected to be a best seller.

    Martin Ferreira, commercial director of Xco Sport, agrees. While the top seller will be the replica Springbok or RWC jerseys, he expects that smaller memorabilia like scarves, caps, flags and rugby balls will also do well. "There will definitely be an increase in Springbok and RWC replica’s and memorabilia sales as of August, when every avid supporter starts to gear up for the RWC in September," says Ferreira. "Some will buy their supporters memorabilia in South Africa and those fortunate few going to France will have a choice to buy locally at the various airport stores or at the specific RWC venues."

    According to Adrian Tuohy of Tri Merchandise SA, official supplier of RWC merchandise in SA, "huge consideration has been placed on pricing in order to make the supporter range accessible to all South Africans."

    He predicts that sales of this year’s RWC merchandise — especially jerseys and caps — will be much higher than for the 2003 World Cup in Australia. "Since we are in the same time zone, many more people will be watching the games in pubs or as part of organized events, where they will want to wear jerseys, caps and scarves. There is also a real belief that SA will reach the semi-final stages and possibly even win the tournament — and this self-belief generates sales."

    Paul Zacks of Canterbury International SA agrees with him. "Event driven products coupled with a spirit of belief in the country will always ensure a nice uptake in sales of replica merchandise," he says. Canterbury is expecting a big demand and have ordered a substantial number of jerseys over and above the normal inventory that they would carry during this period. In order to increase sales, Zacks believes it is vital that the product needs to be marketed effectively.

    According to Tuohy, unique event merchandise — like jerseys and caps featuring all 20 logos of the teams participating in the RWC — will become sought after items as they are only available for a short period and in limited numbers. "What will obviously ad to the collectable value and uniqueness is if SA were to go on and win the tournament," he says.

    Retailers and suppliers agree that team performance is highly correlated with replica merchandise sales. So, the ultimate fate of merchandise sales lies in the hands of the players themselves!

    Counterfeit challenge

    Zacks maintains that there also needs to be effective and adequate policing and control of counterfeit products if sales are to be successful.

    Indeed, sports goods has become a key growth area for black market goods, especially when sold in connection with major sporting events like last year’s Soccer World Cup, the Olympics and the upcoming Rugby World Cup.

    "If we can keep the fakes off the street corners and out of the game totally, then this will go a long way to help retailers sell more products," says Engelbrecht. "There are so many fly-by-nights getting involved in selling products which aren’t licensed. This needs to be more controlled from a suppliers point of view."

    The problem of fake goods needs to be addressed urgently, not only in light of the World Cups taking place this year, but also in light of major tournaments over the next few years, and more particularly, the hosting of the Soccer World Cup on home soil in 2010.

    "As we head towards 2010, the counterfeit goods situation needs to be regulated immediately," says De Villiers. "More counterfeit goods are currently being sold than the real stuff."

    According to the World Customs Organisation (WCO), which groups 170 customs administrations who collectively administer 98% of international trade, counterfeiting and piracy account for about 7% of global commerce.

    Counterfeit and pirated goods are now produced on an industrial scale. According to research by the European Commission, the trade in some counterfeit goods is more profitable than drug trafficking.

    In 2004, the WCO reported more than 4 000 seizures involving about 166-m goods that were either counterfeit or pirated. More than 2 500 seizures were made during the 2006 soccer World Cup alone.

    In 2006, SA Revenue Service (Sars) customs seized counterfeit goods bearing the 2010 Soccer World Cup logo, four years before the tournament gets under way!

    Ferreira agrees that counterfeit goods remain the biggest challenge. "Commitment from the consumer, suppliers, license holders and retailers is needed to fight this," he says. "It would not just have a direct influence on sales but would elevate and do justice to the brand. The Rugby World Cup is a wonderful and rare occasion that only comes round every four years and I would like to see a wave of green supporters at all the stadiums where the Boks will be playing, RWC memorabilia is special — let’s be REAL Bok supporters — wear authentic stuff!"

    So as we get in the grips of sporting fever that will make its way around the world in the next few months, we can definitely expect an increase in the sale of certain replicas and merchandise, but if SA emerge victorious in both the Twenty20 and Rugby World Cups, then sales could potentially soar.

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