Mr. Roether, INTERSPORT is a brand with a young, active, sporty image. However, in Germany, as in many other European countries, demographic change is in full swing. Is INTERSPORT concerned with the development of an increasingly geriatric society? And if so, what are the results of its deliberations?
Awareness of healthier living is becoming increasingly important across every generation of our society. Of course, regular sporting activity plays an important part in a healthy and active lifestyle. We are committed to anchoring this link in the public awareness and to this end, we are carrying out specifically targeted campaigns in collaboration with some well-known industry brands. In this connection, a major element of our deliberations is, of course, the demographic development you mention and in particular, the “silver surfer” age group.
INTERSPORT organizes a series of different events connected with sports and games over the whole year. Some of these are programs specifically targeted at children and young people, such as “skate@school” and “Speed4”. Can you conceive of organizing such events for older people, or do you think a different approach is needed for older customers?
No, on the contrary, mature adults also really enjoy events like these and here, INTERSPORT offers activities such as the “Alpenglühen” ski trials in Obertauern, Austria, or the “Gipfeltreffen” outdoor event in Alpenwelt, Karwendel, in Bavaria. Both these events have enjoyed great popularity for the past decade, especially with the older target group, who are keen on rambling and skiing. In addition, many of our retailers organize numerous local sporting events of their own, such as “24 hour Nordic walking” tours, or they may support particular regional racing events.
To what degree is generation 50+ already represented in your customer base? Are you aware of any products which older people, in particular, buy from INTERSPORT?
It may interest you to know that more than a third of INTERSPORTcustomers are aged 50 years or older. According to a representative survey carried out in 2011, this also correlates with the proportion of generation 50+ out of the total number of people buying sports goods across the whole of Germany. The figures show that we are appealing to this age group with the products in our stores and have the ability to really shine with our core competency: expert technical advice. It is precisely the larger items of fitness equipment and sports equipment used for therapeutic exercise so popular with this target group for which individual advice is needed. Choosing and using the right equipment requires good advice, so that incorrect use which, in a worst case scenario, might even cause injury, can be prevented.
In your experience, is there a type of sport or sports which are ideal for all age groups?
The current enthusiasm for running has gripped people in every age group and here, I include Nordic walking. Many older people are switching to this sport, because compared to running, it is distinctly kinder to the joints. Besides this, in many cases, a family experience is an important aspect, and so outdoor sports such as rambling or cycling are also suitable for all age groups. However, as I have already mentioned, it is generally important to regularly engage in some kind of sporting activity.
Finally, just one more personal question: do you have a piece of sporting kit which you have had for a while now and which you will be keeping for the foreseeable future?
Yes, even I have an item of purely sentimental value. I’ve been riding a Müsing mountain bike for more than 15 years now, which a friend and former colleague built for me as a leaving present when I left my career in the bike industry. It has a prototype frame and all the latest cool features that were ‘in’ at the time. I’m sure there are better individual components these days, but the overall assembly would be hard to match. Even now, the bike, which is still a subtle steel grey, is a magnet for experts to come and ogle. That’s why my Müsing Thunder XTR remains unrivalled as far as I’m concerned. I shall continue to monitor the innovations coming onto the market with the greatest interest, but one thing is clear: my prized possession will stay forever young with me. My son may even inherit it at some stage.
Thank you for your time!