The entire gamut of sports relies on technology to evolve and stay relevant. This business fundamental is no different for those in the global market for sports protective equipment. This sector has gained impetus over the years, as fatal injuries prompt regulating bodies to find solutions to avert such situations in the future. And, in most cases, experts turn to technology for an answer.
A classic example to this was when Cricket Australia, in 2016, recommended neck guards for players, after thoroughly investigating the Phil Hughes incident. In November 2014, Hughes, a middle-order Australian Test cricket batsman, collapsed after a racing ball from Sean Abott struck his neck. Hughes suffered a hemorrhage, was induced into a coma, but succumbed to his injuries two days after the episode. Since then, not only Australian cricketers, but players across the world have fixed neck guard in their helmets.
As safety becomes imperative across all forms of sports, the demand for protective gear gains heat. With the growth rate bestowing promise within manufacturers, the need for a guiding resource to lay down a result-oriented strategic layout for the future becomes imminent. This unanswered need from companies prompts Transparency Market Research (TMR) to bring out a report that attempts to capture every relevant aspect of the budding sports protective equipment market, where succinct information is scarce.
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Sports Protective Equipment Market: Head Injuries the Biggest Concern
Across sporting arenas, it is head injury that the sports fraternity considers the most fatal. While Phil Hughes died to an unprecedented accident where the proven British style helmet exposed his neck, seven-time Formula-1 champion Michael Schumacher was induced into a coma after he injured himself while skiing in the French Alps in December 2013.
While these two instances are proof to the importance head gear holds in sports protective equipment, statistics cement the belief. A study published in March 2019 showed that, 21% of all traumatic brain injuries in American children were attributed to sports. Further, half of these head injuries are among children who indulge in bicycling, skate-boarding, and skiing.
The importance of head protection equipment resonates in the market revenues too. In 2018, 34.6% of the total revenue came from head gear sales. It is, however, important to read between the lines, for the players in the sports protective equipment market to find an opportunity. When it comes to share in terms of unit sales, protective gear for upper body stands a good 9% ahead of head gear sales. This implies that, head gear is more expensive than other protective gear. The price gap is moderately narrow (US$ 3-5) in North America and Europe, but is wider (US$ 7-10) in Asia Pacific. TMR’s report shows that, the head gear segment reaped US$ 2,968.7 Mn from the sales of 60.4 Mn units in 2018. On the other hand, 84.2 Mn units of upper body gear yielded US$ 2,754.7 Mn in the same year. Complexities in specifications for head gear invariably make them expensive. But, the key to sustenance in the coming years lies in working out models that cut down on the cost of head gear.
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Sports Protective Equipment Market: Trends that Players can Cash-in On
Technology is the Biggest Boon
It will be appropriate to state that, growth in the sports protective equipment market rests on technology. Be it big brands or start-ups making their way into the sports protective equipment market, everyone strongly believes that, innovation is the key to turn the tide in a market with faint discrimination in products.
As we speak, companies across the globe are developing products that will redefine the space of sports protective equipment in the future. Famous NFL player Shawn Springs is developing a next-generation helmet based on the cloud crash technology. This claims to save players from the impact of a fall or crash in football. What’s important is that, the product has been tested for different angles and speed.
Another product under R&D is a shock-absorbing gear, which will prevent players from suffering serious injuries in rugby. Then, there is a sensor that will monitor the health of race horses. This will help authorities understand if the horse is being overworked, and thus, warn the rider, asking him/her to slow down. This will prevent falls and collisions.
While we speak of sensors to monitor equine health, smart wearables have already their made way into the sports protective equipment market. Physiotherapists and coaches have started recognizing the importance of data that reflects players’ health on the field. Thus, they are able to custom-design training programs for each players working on specific areas of fitness.
E-Commerce is the Better Digital Channel
There is no doubt that digital is the new normal for both, marketing and sales. However, companies might feel that a self-created web portal might meet the needs, but consumer behavior reflects a different picture. With information conveniently at their disposal, consumers prefer shopping from unbiased third-party platforms. This gives e-Commerce platforms an upper hand, as they provide products from most of the players in the market. The advantage of comparing products coupled with customer reviews helps buyers refine their judgment based on facts. The TMR study shows that, out of the US$ 3,232.3 Mn sales through the online channel in 2018, US$ 2,211.6 Mn was accounted through e-Commerce platforms, which is roughly 70%. It is also important to note that, e-Commerce also carved 25% sales revenues in the global sports protective equipment market.
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