Retail Experiences

Crafting Authentic Experiences for Athletes and Everyday Enthusiasts


Sports brands face the unique challenge of serving two very different customer groups: professional athletes who deliver top performances and require the best products, and the mainstream market, which boosts sales volume. This duality necessitates a differentiated brand strategy that effectively addresses both target groups.

In recent years, many sports brands have chosen to approach successful textile brands and apply similar strategies in the retail sector to become more attractive to the fashionable everyday person. However, adapting to the mainstream without diluting the core values of the brand presents a complex task for many sports brands. While expanding the product range to include fashionable and everyday collections has facilitated access to the mass market, it has also weakened the connection to the original target group of top performers. This development threatens the authenticity and credibility of the brand, an effect that is intensified by too strong an adaptation to the mass market.


To reverse this trend, it’s essential to focus on the core essence of the brand, both in terms of product offerings and retail presentation. The challenge lies in maintaining technical superiority and brand values while simultaneously creating innovative and customer-oriented retail experiences. To stand out, brands must preserve their unique DNA while integrating modern retail concepts focused on technology, sustainability, and local communities. Beyond mere architecture and fittings, the product experience is crucial for engaging the target audience.

Especially in the realm of sports and performance products, which are designed to enhance performance and ultimately lead to better outcomes, there’s a unique advantage in retail: they need to be tested, tried out, and compared to make an informed decision. This is true whether it’s about climbing a mountain, staying healthy in extreme temperatures, covering long distances with joint care, or having maximum freedom of movement in sports. Examples include the French sports retailer Decathlon with its open architecture that invites trying out products, the American model Dick’s Sporting Goods House of Sports with its 2000 square meter grass field, track, climbing wall, batting cages, and golf simulators, or the American sports retailer Scheels, which offers a saltwater aquarium, mini ice hockey rink, and an archery range in its flagship store. The act of purchasing outdoor gear for extreme temperatures becomes a real experience with the provision of cold chambers, transforming it from a mere theoretical purchase decision. All these elements contribute to engaging both actual athletes and interested amateur sports enthusiasts who want to get involved.

In addition to the direct experience on-site, brands can ensure a professional and authentic brand presence by providing technical information and multimedia content. Ultimately, it’s about showing the consumer in a relatively simple way what they can achieve with the help of the product and offering them exactly the right product for their specific use. Links with digital channels, on-demand content, and an omnichannel integration make sense.


Addressing the original target group is crucial for the long-term success of a brand. By precisely understanding and meeting the needs of these users, brands can secure their leadership position in the long term. Following the motto “Where the pros shop, I want to shop too,” a demand-driven mass penetration becomes possible. The “brand we belong to” transforms into a “space we belong to” – making the store a place of unique brand staging.

Published in FashionUnited.

About the authorMicha KleinExecutive Director &Expert Brand Spaces

Any questions? Email us