Climbing at the Olympics: How Manufacturers and Retail Want to Benefit

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Climbing has finally made it almost 30 years after the demonstration competition at the 1992 Olympic Winter Games in Albertville: in 2021, the world's climbing elite will be competing for Olympic gold in Tokyo. A boost for the sport - but also for manufacturers and retailers?

Climbing is Olympic for the first time in 2020.
Climbing is Olympic for the first time in 2020.

Climbing will celebrate its Olympic premiere in Tokyo 2021. The ascent to the Olympic sport is a great opportunity, not only for climbers, but also for manufacturers and retailers. has asked the climbing and sports brands Edelrid, Millet and La Sportiva what they expect for the climbing sport in connection with Tokyo 2021.

Out of the Streaming Niche

Climbing has changed a lot in the last 30 years. Compared to the Albertville 1992 format at that time, the competitions became more structured, more professional and, above all, more interesting for the spectators. Route construction has changed completely, from resting points to spectacular jumps and athletic moves.

With the appearance of the best climbers in Tokyo, the industry hopes to attract even more attention to an even wider audience, who do not have to do sport themselves to understand and love the activities. The daring jumps and extraordinary movements, especially in lead climbing and bouldering, offer the potential to become the darling of the audience.

New Climbing Fans?

As a bonus, everyone can try bouldering and climbing for themselves. The halls are right on our doorstep, in the city. A clear advantage for the young Olympic discipline, which pushes all brands equally into the foreground. Sebastian Straub of Edelrid comments: "The Olympics represent a great opportunity for us as a manufacturer. Due to the increased media presence, climbing will increasingly slip into the focus of a broad public. This increased media presence must be used in the best possible way through intelligent measures." Through this new presence, sport could make it out of the streaming niche and conquer its place in big television stations.

La Sportiva is also hoping for an even larger target group: "We expect many newcomers, who will see climbing for the first time and a direct growth of indoor climbers in the many gyms we see all over the world. This is a very good chance for a brand like us."

Manufacturers are hoping that the Olympics will bring many climbing newcomers.
Manufacturers are hoping that the Olympics will bring many climbing newcomers.
Image credit:
T. shearer

Rental Equipment as a Problem for Retail

According to projections, there are already between 500,000 and 600,000 climbers in Germany. However, the industry, and especially the manufacturers of climbing clothing, could benefit even more from the boom. Also in the sport specialized retail not too much of the new popular sport has arrived so far.

The problem for retail: many newcomers use the rental equipment offered by the halls. Shoes, rope, safety devices. The former "athlete-brand hobby climber bond" has been lost in the course of the urbanisation of sport, but with the Olympic Games it could once again come more into focus.

Globetrotter is hoping that the Olympic climbing discipline will definitely give a boost to the trade and wants to push Tokyo 2021 in its climbing areas in the stores.

Halls: New Influencers with Broker Function?

For the official outfitter of the German national climbing team, Edelrid, climbing and bouldering halls are an important point to get in touch with the target group as a brand. "Understanding needs and filtering out changes in the climbing community are among the most important tasks," explains Sebastian Straub.

Millet is a partner of the world's largest climbing centre in Munich/Thalkirchen, which continues to be the case. Through this cooperation, the French company with a long tradition wants to generate a stronger brand awareness among climbers. The first contact about rental equipment and events sharpens the attention. Newcomers in particular appreciate this convenience, as they can use it to make targeted enquiries and buy from retailers.

For Tina Rolèn, Vice President Marketing EMEA, climbing halls are also an important link between consumer and brand, but: "It is also important not to neglect the role of influencers. They make sport more accessible by making it appear in a different light - beyond the elite level."