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The world’s largest sports industry trade show, ISPO Munich, celebrates its 50th year with the 2020 edition from January 26-29, 2020, and nearly 3,000 exhibitors and over 80,000 business delegates from around the world will be on hand for the occasion.

Since the creation of the flagship event in 1970, the Munich Trade Fair has launched two massive shows in China, in Beijing (February) and Shanghai (July).

“Our Beijing event next year will have a strong winter sports flavour with the Winter Olympics taking place there in 2022,” said Tobias Gröber, Director of ISPO Group,  who will be a featured speaker at THE SPOT 2020 in Lausanne next May, where he will no doubt share insights on the Chinese market, where ISPO launched in 2005.

More recently, the group added the OutDoor by ISPO (June) to its portfolio.

Tobias says that the shape of the OutDoor event (again, the biggest of its kind in the world) reflects a fundamental change that has taken place in the sports market over the past ten or 15 years.

“There was a time when sport was about either / or. You were either a snowboarder or a skier. You either played a competitive sport at a club or you were an action sports person out climbing. Nowadays consumers want to do everything. Their outlook is broader. They do all kinds of sport.”

He adds that this trend of broadening and overlapping is actually wider than sport. “The OutDoor show was originally only about presenting the latest products and gear innovation , so we had boots and headlamps and tents. Now, we are finding that other industries, from automobiles to energy production to fashion, and politicians too, want to be involved in a platform that embraces the outdoor industry and it´s a strong motivation to protect the environment more generally. Being part of the Munich Trade Fair, which is so connected to so many industries, enables us to make the most of this opportunity.”

The underlying theme of sustainability has shaped and pushed forward this change.

“As we have worked to make our own events sustainable, we have found that we have been opening up a purpose dialogue with our customers and our world. Sustainability must be part of everyone’s strategy. We think less like a trade show and more like a movement.”

The wider purpose of events also coincides with a change in the nature of how brands work as well as the nature of trade shows.

“Brands are less and less about selling products and more about the brand narrative and delivering a brand experience.”

“Likewise, the days of the trade show as a place companies come to in order to sell their products are over. ISPO is now a platform. We don’t take place for a few days but all year round with digital resources on offer and a full calendar of ancillary events.”

This year a new esports event at the fair drew over 900 visitors. ES_COM by ISPO Digitize 2019 featured the final of the Rocket League AMD Masters 2019, one of the largest offline FIFA tournaments in Germany, and a professional League of Legends exhibition match between SK Gaming and Schalke 04 eSports, as well as tournaments in other popular games.


By Jay Stuart