Only 1% of German women prefer to undertake a sports activity with men. It is one of the most stunning results of a recent survey of 3,200 women who engage with sports in Germany. It was conducted online and in cooperation with Intersport Germany in early 2014. This and other results of the survey are summarized in a new study of women's attitudes toward sports and the purchase of sporting goods in Germany, due to be released by SGI Europe and its Outdoor Industry Compass shortly.

The report on “Women & Sports in Germany” has been compiled by Ulrike Luckmann and Karen Laubach, who have also interviewed many key executives about the strategies that they are using to reach out to the female customer. Luckmann is a German journalist and fashion designer who has worked for over 20 years on the theme of women and sports. Laubach is a marketing expert who has had experience with major American sports brands and knows the structure for the market well.What women want and what men think they want, are worlds apart. In the last ten, fifteen years, women have forced they way into typically male sporting activities such as mountaineering, climbing, football and cycling. So more and more sports brands are trying to get to grips with the differences between women and men.

The differences have not only to do with the anatomy of the woman, but also with her whole physical and psychological set-up. Women think differently, undertake sports differently, have different priorities for sporting equipment, and shop differently from men.

Sports products designed for women have improved in recent years, but the thinking process and the market structures are still extremely male-dominated and male-oriented. Sports marketing is still primarily aimed at a male audience. Still missing is an all-round understanding of what makes women tick and what they value most during sporting activities and when purchasing sports products.The new “Women & Sports” study examines the German sports market from a female perspective. The authors have grouped sporting women into six categories to make it easier for the sports industry to choose their target customers and find the right approach to them. The types are: Naturessa (Nature Lover), Trendista (Trend Follower), Socialina (Social), Dietessa (Figure-Conscious), Adrenalina (Adrenalin Junky) and Vitalia (Health-Conscious).

The study looks at their sporting behavior and their attitudes toward sports clothing and sports equipment. The authors give insights into the ways in which women shop in general and in particular for sporting products, and how they make their buying decisions. The study is intended to support sports brands and sports retailers in marketing and merchandising to women. It gives valuable suggestions and examples of how to reach women who are active in sports and how to build their loyalty to a brand.

The results of the survey show how important it is to understand the specific aspects of the women's market, starting with the German one, which is the biggest one in Europe. For example, the survey showed that, when asked about their favorite sports shop, 82.8 percent of the women interviewed said they did not have one. Women purchase 82 percent of the products in the sporting stores, but only when they need something and when their sports equipment or clothing needs to be replaced. Sports products are only shopped for when required. Purchasing them is not part of the enjoyable activity of leisure shopping. Those who want to win athletic women as customers must think afresh. Different standards apply to sporting goods from those used to judge fashion or everyday products. “Shrink it and Pink it” no longer works, even if some companies still follow that idea, albeit with more subtlety than ten years ago. Gender marketing requires a fundamental change of thinking, especially when talking directly to the female customer, and in brand communication and product development.

So far this is practiced by very few brands. As long as the decision-making process - from a product idea to the final hand-over to the user - continues to be 80 percent shaped by men who do not take into account differences in attitudes between men and women, there can be little successful marketing to women. The study gives recommendations for targeted, women-specific marketing and shows how brands can optimize their messages to women.

The authors also present successful examples from industry and retail, and shed light on the much-debated topic of “women-only shops.” Here the survey revealed a surprising result!

Industry officials can order the study, the raw data of the survey and registration for a dedicated workshop about the study by sending an e-mail to us at info@edmpublications.com. Subscribers to SGI Europe and The Outdoor Industry Compass get major discounts.