Online shopping is now everywhere– including the sports fashion and outdoor industry. The majority of sports/outdoor brand manufacturers and sports/outdoor retailers now have their own e-commerce presence.

Customers face a choice: Should they shop online directly with the retailer who carries several specialty brands, or directly from the brand manufacturer? What drives online customers to choose one over the other?

Last year, we as Julius Geis – Brand Aesthete®, as experts in identity-based e-commerce positioning, conducted our own study, entitled: E-commerce: Sport/Outdoor Retailer versus  Sport/Outdoor Brand Manufacturer, with the goal of defining and analyzing the motivation behind online shopping behavior.

We surveyed about one hundred people, two-thirds of them male and one-third female, with 85% of them having purchased sports/outdoor equipment and -accessoires online in the past.



85% of our respondents stated that they bought sports/outdoor equipment online from a specialized retailer.

The vast majority of respondents cited greater variety of choice as the main driver for an online purchase, followed closely by better customer service. Only 23% quoted price as a major factor in their decision making. The survey showed consumers preferred the product and brand variety offered by specialty retailers over manufacturers’ online merchandise.



Among participants in this survey, 75% had previously shopped online at a e-commerce from a sports/outdoor manufacturer.  Almost all of them, 74%, stated they enjoyed being able to choose from the entire product range of a brand. 36% reported that establishing a close link to a brand (brand-lover) when shopping online was crucial to them, while fewer than 20% felt that price and service quality were important factors in their decision making.

Naturally, it makes sense for brand manufacturers to offer their entire product line for sale on the Web. Customers make conscious decisions in favor of a brand in order to be closely linked to what they view as their brand. This brand affinity presents a crucial opportunity for manufacturers who can build on it to strategically expand their marketing potential.  We were very encouraged to find that 36% of respondents stated they consciously sought to establish a close link to the brand (stated to be a brand-lover). An insight that offers a truly motivating impulse for sport/outdoor manufacturers to redefine their identity as a B2C brand!

Undecided customers look to the market place to help them choose between products. By creating a strong identity, retailers have an opportunity to distinguish their brand beyond just price point and product line. In doing so, they gain a key advantage in attracting brand-loyal consumers.

What defines a strong brand identity? Things like individual values, attitude and power of persuasion. These elements enable sport/ outdoor- brands and retailers to attract more potential customers by fostering greater connectivity between them and helping to form a close relationship with each other, every step of the way along the entire customer journey.

What they’ll achieve is a distinctive brand that stands out from the competition and will grant them the power to influence and guide customer choice.


In conclusion:

  • 100 people participated in our survey, 60% of whom identify as brand orientated
  • 85% purchase products online from specialty retailers, citing greater variety of choice
  • 74% purchase products online from specialty-brand manufacturers because their sites offer the entire brand-product line for sale. 36% report increased brand attachment
  • This insight provides the brand manufacturer with the opportunity to build brand attachment into a mutual relationship
  • Strengthening a brand’s internal attitude and core values creates a more distinctive brand that’s positioned to stand out from the competition
  • Long term customer-to-brand attachment leads to higher brand profitability

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Carmen Dehmel Neves is a renowned expert in identity-based brand positioning for retailers and manufacturers. Since April 2016, as Strategy & Marketing Consultant, Carmen is part of the JULIUS GEIS – BRAND AESTHETE® team. Carmen is also Brand Aesthtetes® European Service Client Director and contact person to all European clients.