The German outdoor market is an interesting opportunity for UK brands.

While it is the largest market in Europe with 26% overall share and boasts Europe’s highest spend per head on outdoor products, the sector is quite unlike the UK. It is dominated by large groups of independent retailers and generalist players, and consumers have a different set of priorities.

Participation in outdoor activities in Germany has increased recently, driven by a growing trend towards healthy lifestyles. The trend towards dressing in sporty, casual and practical styles has led to the rise of athleisure apparel in Germany, as it has done in the UK and US. This provides brands with an opportunity to expand their range into more everyday, fashion-led outdoor products, with waterproof jackets particularly popular in Germany.   With greater polarisation and a number of value-led retailers such as McTrek operating in the market, consumers also have more accessibility to outdoor brands at the value end.

The German consumer is very ecologically and sustainably-minded. Voted Germany’s most sustainable brand in 2015, Vaude is committed to environmentally friendly production and sustainable innovation. UK brands looking to serve the German customer base require sustainability and authenticity credentials to position themselves positively within the market. Failure to maintain sustainability standards can be detrimental to demand, as seen in 2013 when harmful toxins were found in Jack Wolfskin jackets, causing a reduction in sales in the brand’s native Germany.

Store experience and the concept of retail theatre is key to success in the German context. Globetrotter offers a range of diverse attractions across its various subsidiaries, and integrates brands effectively throughout the store. Its Munich store boasts a pressure chamber which mountaineers can use to determine the degree to which altitude affects them, whilst the Cologne store (seen above) houses a 220,000 litre diving and canoeing pool. Brand-led displays are widespread in Germany, providing brands with a unique opportunity to collaborate with retailers to create an authentic and differentiated experience, in a way that the product focus of most UK retailers currently doesn’t allow.

Entering any new market can be tricky, and requires an understanding of local consumers as well as how to adapt your brand positioning, which local partners to work with and how to adapt your marcomms. The journey is best started by visiting the country and spending time on the ground getting to know it.

Holly Jackson