A frequently-cited marketing maxim holds that women drive 80 percent of consumer purchases at retail. While finding the original source of that figure has proven to be elusive, most will agree that women are responsible for a significant level of spending in the sports and outdoor lifestyle market.
At Finish Line, for example, sales of mens footwear represent more than half of the purchases at the flagship chain, but women influence a significant amount of these purchases. “Not only is the female consumer weighing in on the purchases of the males in her life, she is often the final decision-maker of teen and kids footwear purchases,” says Sam Sato, EVP and chief merchandise officer.
MOMS DRIVING TEAM SALES AT FULL-LINE SPORTING GOODS
“Theyre the ones who are responsible for running the house and the budget, particularly for single-income households,” says Bob McArthur, president at Johnny Macs, the team dealer and retailer.
However, womens purchases at full-line sporting goods chains overall appear to lag well below the 80 percent rate cited across other retail categories.
One reason, according to observers, is that although womens participation is increasing across sports, most continue to be dominated by males, including hunting, golf and most team sports. Many men also like to make technical purchases themselves including not only equipment, but frequently technical apparel and footwear as well.
Ken Meehan, EVP of merchandise at Dunham Sports, concurs, “I dont think a husband is going to have the wife pick up a driver or a baseball or a football item, especially the serious athlete. You might see the casual person let his wife buy him a set of golf clubs or a baseball glove, but for the mid- to high-level guy, its kind of a personal purchase.”
“You also have areas such as hunting, a big business that she often doesnt want to do any buying in,” he continued.
But the biggest reason full-line sporting goods stores are lagging behind the 80 percent womens purchasing standard is because theyre not fully capturing what women buy for themselves. Its generously estimated that about a third of apparel and footwear buys in full-line sporting goods stores come from women for personal use. With equipment buys making up a much smaller amount, womens personal buys are believed to account for less than 20 percent of sales at full-line sporting goods chains.
SPECIALTY CAPTURING WOMENS DOLLAR
“Women, particularly those who are 30+, understand that her fitness, health and well being are critical elements to invest in herself. Running and walking are inexpensive ways to do that,” says Rogers.
Although full-line sporting goods chains may face distinct challenges targeting women versus specialty stores, Matt Powell, senior retail analyst for The SportsOneSource Group believes the opportunity is too big to ignore. Attributing the failure to maximize the womens business on a lingering “male bias” across the industry, Powell says many specialty stores are showing full-line sporting goods chains the way to reach the active women.
“Women are only going to go to places that take care of her needs,” observes Powell. “Its about really understanding what she wants and then filling those needs. I just dont think anybody in the sporting goods industry has really made a terrific attempt at getting to the active women. Lots of stores successfully sell to both men and women. A sporting goods store doesnt only have to be a guys store.”