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Trend Sports in 2021 – An Active Year for Sports Enthusiasts and Retailers

New trend sports mean new opportunities. Here's what sports retailers need to know

4 minutes

Thanks to many different trends, the world of sports is now about far more than just running, swimming and football. This transformation is also presenting retailers with many opportunities to stand out from the crowd. Trend sports offer a welcome change in terms of both day-to-day training schedules and the shopping experience. They also have potential to become Olympic disciplines at some point in the future. But what exactly is a trend sport? And what should we expect in 2021?

As the term already suggests, a trend sport is simply a sporting activity that is currently in fashion. New sports equipment or forms of exercise keep appearing all the time. These are then promoted as trend sports in the media and also marketed as such. However, the term "trend" can be somewhat misleading here. Although it is used to describe a type of sport that clearly differs from traditional sports, often referred to as mainstream sports, it actually describes sports that are already being played regularly and is therefore in contrast with "sporting crazes". A trend sport is already well on the way to becoming an established sport. Yet this process can sometimes take longer than anticipated. For example, certain sports such as beach volleyball or snowboarding have already been considered trend sports for more than 20 years. Contrary to common presumptions, the term "trend" always includes a long-term component when used for sports. Trends are developments in society that are sustainably influenced by large numbers of people actively taking them up. As such, not everything that is new is also a trend. In fact, a certain number of people must first get involved for a certain amount of time. The effective period describes how long the trend endures. Clear differentiation is made here between short trends (for example just one season) and stable trends which continue for at least five years. The scope or "spectrum of action" is also relevant here. This can vary, depending on how many sections of society, such as consumption or technology, are affected or at least touched by the trend. For example, sporting crazes generally do not last long and also display only a small spectrum of action, while trend sports do precisely the opposite.

What actually leads to creation of a trend sport? Trend sports can come about in many ways. One way is simply to alter an existing sport – for example relocating volleyball to the seaside and thereby creating beach volleyball. These sports can emerge as part of a growing community that listens to certain music, meets up at a special location or lives a certain lifestyle. Skateboarding represents a good example of the latter. This has definitely made the transition to become an established sport – and is even being included in the next Olympic Games for the first time ever. New or altered sports repeatedly offer retailers the potential to extend their product ranges or stand out from the crowd and address new target groups. This not only applies to amateur sports enthusiasts, but also professionals. Retailers should make sure they have a clear picture of the payment solutions on offer here. Discover corresponding solutions for online shops and marketplaces, brick and mortar retailers, as well as major corporations.

A selection of potential trend sports for 2021

SUP yoga

Yoga, which originates from India, has become increasingly popular in the last few years and now definitely ranks among the established trend sports. It should therefore come as no surprise that various different versions have been created in an attempt to further develop classic yoga or combine it with other disciplines. One such trend sport involves performing yoga exercises on a stand up paddle board (SUP). This represents a particular challenge in terms of balance and includes the added dimension of water. Retailers can, for example, score points by offering SUPs in both their online and local shops.

HIIT yoga

HIIT yoga blends traditional yoga elements with high intensity interval training (HIIT) and is the perfect combination for those that may find yoga too monotonous and HIIT too demanding. While the idea with HIIT exercises is to approach the limit of what the body can take, yoga focuses more on improved mobility and flexibility.

Roundnet / Spikeball™

Roundnet proved a real hit in parks last year – and enthusiasts are also likely to get their equipment out or even buy new equipment once again this year. When playing roundnet, two teams of two players each stand around a small, round trampoline. This is the actual roundnet. Each point begins with a serve, which is usually struck by the team that won the previous point. Once the ball is hit and returned by the non-serving team and hits the net, the possession is flipped. During each possession, teams have three hits but do not have to use all of their hits. Only a maximum of 3 touches are permitted. If a team is unable to counter and the ball drops to the ground, the other team wins the point.


The HYROX competition is perfect for those who are fit and looking for a challenge. This sporting activity comprises a combination of running (stamina) and a functional workout, during which those taking part can measure their performance virtually against other participants. Each participant runs 1 kilometre, followed by 1 functional workout, and then repeats this 8 times. Those competing in HYROX definitely require wearables in order to measure their performance and then compare this with other participants. High-tech support for the training is also trending. Whether fitness trackers, heart rate monitors or nutritional protocols, digital products have clearly established themselves in day-to-day sporting life. Retailers can also secure themselves competitive advantages here with integrated omnichannel business models and a successful customer payment journey.

Mainstream sports: cycling is trending again

All of these trends have likely gained ground due to coronavirus-related issues, such as the various lockdowns, and offer the genuine advantage of facilitating outdoor sport and exercise beyond the traditional confines of the gym. It should therefore come as no surprise that cycling, which has long since enjoyed great popularity and is also well established as an Olympic sport, has been enjoying something of a renewed boom during the pandemic. Cycling is not only a great way to keep fit, but also to avoid public transport. Whereas bicycles used to be classified specifically based on their use, with models including racing bikes, hybrid bikes, touring bikes, mountain bikes, city bikes or cargo bikes, these types are now increasingly converging. After all, customers no longer wish to buy dedicated bicycles for specific uses and are instead looking for something that is flexible. So-called "gravel bikes" from the US cater to precisely this demand. Gravel bikes are crossovers that combine aspects of racing bikes, such as their handlebars, with off-road capability thanks to their use of rugged tyres. The general trend in consumer behaviour towards personalisation of products can also be seen here – with customers demanding bicycles that fit their needs and characteristics perfectly.

Getting onboard at the right time

Trend sports present retailers with many opportunities. With a payment partner like Unzer at their side, they can offer the right payment methods in a targeted way. These can be determined on the basis of a trend's lifecycle. First of all, the respective trend sport is played by just a small number of people. In the second phase, it is then taken up by small groups and the basic idea is refined or the sports equipment improved, insofar as this is even needed. However, trend sports have still not arrived in the world of "mainstream sport" at this point. In the third phase, the sport is then picked up by subgroups and perceived as exclusive or stylish. This represents the transition to the fourth phase, in which retailers can score points with corresponding product offers and payment options, assuming they have not already started catering to the respective sport earlier on. The process in which new sports become established is based on widespread demand and increased media attention. In phase five, saturation is achieved through across-the-board acceptance of and participation in the sport. The trend sport is then perceived as an established "mainstream sport".

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