With their decided focus on retailers, Messe Friedrichshafen this week showed that they are ready to compete with ISPO Munich to host a second trade show for the outdoor industry next year. ISPO earlier this year won the most votes from the European Outdoor Group (EOG) to become the new hosts of a more consumer-focused OutDoor trade show, which started 25 years ago in Friedrichshafen.

Which begs the question: with two such divergent shows, where is the outdoor industry heading? And what is happening in the South African outdoor industry?

With the traditional June/July spot booked by OutDoor by ISPO in Munich (June 30 to July 3, 2019), Friedrichshafen moved their show to September 17-19 next year. This coincides better with the retail buying season, they say.

Their new trade fair format “specifically shifts the focus onto the interests of specialist retailers and offers innovative opportunities for both brands and manufacturers to take part,” Messe Friedrichshafen CEO Klaus Wellmann said at the introduction of the new fair. “For more than 25 years, Friedrichshafen has been the home and driving force of the outdoor industry. Through our event OUTDOOR Friedrichshafen, we are now launching the next stage for a genuine and independent industry platform and adopting new approaches.”

This focus on gear for traditional outdoor pursuits bought through specialist outdoor retailers and their emphasis on promoting authentic outdoor brands, is a decidedly different approach to that adopted by ISPO.

What swayed the EOG members to change hosts, was ISPO’s emphasis on using digital platforms to reach the end consumer. These they identified as being young, techno-savvy and constantly in search of new experiences, like competing digitally via apps they download. Even consumers’ overwhelming support for travel expressed in a video when asked what they would do if they won a lot of money, was interpreted as searching for new experiences.  Some of the panel members at the introduction of the new ISPO show even suggested that travel experiences could be enjoyed digitally.

ISPO also made history this year at the Shanghai trade show when they introduced a strong digital B2C (Business to Consumer) focus by broadcasting the traditional trade fair fashion show on Alibaba’s Chinese technology platform, Tmail – where consumers could place direct orders.

The exhibitor names and visitor numbers at next year’s two European outdoor shows will therefore make very interesting reading – and will be a good indication of where the outdoor industry is heading.

We wondered what the outdoor industry in South Africa looks like – and would appreciate it if you could let us know by completing this short survey.