Atomic and Salomon, two brands that jointly claim a share of 35 percent in the difficult alpine ski equipment market, have decided not to exhibit at the next Ispo Munich show, scheduled for Jan. 28-31. Armada, a ski brand recently acquired by the same group, will not show there either, but Arc'teryx will.

In giving out the news, the parent company, of all these brands and others Amer Sports, added that it has agreed to a new form of collaboration with the world's leading sporting goods trade show by intensifying its participation in Ispo's digital platform as part of its own omni-channel strategy.

In the past few years, under the management of Tobi Gröber, who launched it in 2010, Ispo has been promoting its 365-day initiative, which is meant to establish connection all year ‘round for a variety of purposes at the B2B and B2C levels through its online platform, which is visited by about 250,000 users each month. The initiative is meant to give an extra service to the sporting goods industry beyond its presence at the fair, partly because of the changing behavior of consumers.

In the 12 months through last February, Ispo's online platform generated nine million page impressions and 35 million visits through the social media, with peaks during the Ispo shows.

Through a partnership with TMall, Ispo conducted rather successful product presentations and flash sales that reached out to up to 2.5 million visitors during its latest shows in Beijing and Shanghai, benefitting brands such as Fjällräven, Lafuma, Trespass and Sea to Summit in the outdoor sector. It is considering a similar program involving European retailers at Ispo Munich.

Messe München, the organizer of Ispo and many other shows, can place a growing database of more than five million contacts at the B2B and B2C levels. A majority of them are located outside Germany, although about 60 percent of the consumers it can reach out to in the sports and outdoor sector are from the German-speaking countries.

At the next Ispo Munich show in January, Ispo will take another step on the digital front by setting up a new area where retailers can check out alternative suppliers of digital software and technology to improve their multi-channel and omni-channel capabilities.

Atomic and Salomon are expected to reinvest part of the savings from their huge investment in the show in Ispo's digital Business Solutions, concentrating on its “Consumer Outreach” services. They include Ispo Open Innovation for consumer engagement and new product development, the Ispo Job Market for the recruitment of new talent, Ispo's database for consumer research and marketing, and the ispo.com website for information to the trade and to consumers.

For its part, Amer has been investing strongly in omni-channel operations to support its dealers based on their individual needs in terms of placing orders and activating the sell-out, partly by developing coordinated digital strategies.

Jean-Marc Pambet, president of Salomon, told us that the decision to stay out of the “physical” Ispo show was made in concert with Amer's European sales staff after looking at the effectiveness of its contacts with dealers during the sell-in process through other means including showrooms, visits to the stores, product testing clinics and the buying groups' own trade shows.

The management of Atomic and Salomon has concluded that the brands' participation at Ispo is not as effective as meeting the relevant partners at the right moment because about two-thirds of its European dealers do not attend the show. Very few come from the important Japanese market, for example.

The executive indicated that all the savings from the physical show will be reinvested in additional field testing and the activation of the sell-through process, including Ispo's consumer outreach programs. As field tests are essential in deciding which products they should purchase, retailers place no orders for ski hardware at Ispo, he noted, stating that the decision to pull out of Ispo had nothing to do with its dates. As for Salomon's apparel and footwear, orders for the autumn/winter season are mostly placed in December.

Pambet pointed out that Amer's individual brands make their decisions to participate in the various trade shows on a country-by-country basis. Thus, Salomon will continue to participate in the U.S. trade shows, including the new outdoor and ski show in Denver next Jan. 25-28, although it has not yet decided whether it will again exhibit at the European OutDoor fair in Friedrichshafen next June. On the other hand, Arc'teryx participated in the last OutDoor show and will continue to exhibit at Ispo Munich, but the brand did not show at the recent Outdoor Retailer Winter Market in Salt Lake City.

Another important group, Oberalp, has already pulled its Salewa and Dynafit brands out of Ispo and OutDoor. Observers are wondering whether Amer's pull-out from Ispo Munich will create a domino effect throughout the ski industry, which has been closely associated with the fair, replicating what happened in other segments of the industry after big players like Nike and Adidas pulled out.

Rossignol's top management said it will review its future participation in Ispo during the next few weeks, but confirmed that it will show at the next Ispo and SIA shows in Germany and the U.S. The surface of its stand at Ispo will grow by about 10 percent from 700 square meters at its last edition to integrate its new operations, including Rossignol bikes and e-bikes and the products of Raidlight-Vertical.

The Tecnica Group said it was confirming its participation in this and other fairs, including the new SIA show in Denver. In fact, Tecnica will use its recently redesigned 600-square-meter booth at Ispo to also present its new line of Tecnica outdoor boots and to bring back Rollerblade after many years of absence since the closure of the Ispo Summer show.

Noting that Tecnica, Nordica and Blizzard start taking orders from big accounts before Ispo, and from other retailers between February and May, the Italian company said its participation in the show is primarily intended to present the complete new collection and the related go-to-market plans, to structure new deals, to meet new customers or distributors, and to do public relations.

Ispo's management says it will have no problems in filling out the 1,200 square meters of prominent space taken by Atomic and Salomon, as the show continues to be booked out. It showed a tremendous resilience after the pull-out of Adidas, which it invited at a very interesting conference on the development of omni-channel along with Zalando and other companies at its last edition.

Messe München believes it has a chance to win back the outdoor industry for a European summer show, thanks to its consumer outreach strategy, its conferences, its more central location and Munich's numerous hotels.