Finding Space on Retail Shelves, Both Brick & Mortar as Well as Digital
Like several other sporting accessories, backboards have successfully been able to find a place on retail shelf space, not only at modern trade outlets but also on digital retail platforms. A backboard is a basketball accessory that has gained special attention, from amateur to professional players, and from sporting goods retailers to backboard manufacturers. The global market for backboards houses over a thousand small and large manufacturers, of which, a majority operate locally, and a handful of backboard manufacturers have a global reach. Awareness about fitness among the masses has resulted in an amplified demand for sporting goods and equipment, and the sales volume of backboards over past three year substantiates the same. This can be further substantiated by increasing number of participants for basketball at local, regional, national, and international sporting platforms.
Over 50 million players play basketball at different levels, and the U.S. alone houses close to 27 million amateur and professional players. This huge number of participants equates to a significant customer group for basketball-related products and accessories, including backboards. Companies engaged in the design, manufacture, sales, and marketing of these products are successfully capitalizing on the opportunity.
Globalization of Sports Creating Value for All
Over the past decade, the sports as well as sports accessories industry has transformed, and like other industries, sports has become global in nature. Sports like basketball have long been consolidated in certain pockets of global geographic clusters, and have captivated a limited target audience. Nevertheless, least preferred sports such as basketball are being promoted by associations and investors across key countries, especially in countries with a large customer base, such as China, India, Indonesia, etc. This, in turn, has heightened the awareness level, and has also unfolded a plethora of opportunities for backboard market participants. With the formation and popularization of sporting leagues, amateur players foresee significant opportunity, and thus spend on buying goods and accessories in regions with limited sporting infrastructure availability.
Furthermore, institutions such as schools and colleges have also invested significantly in basketball sports infrastructure in the past few years, which has created an additional demand for backboards. Collectively, all these factors have contributed to the demand for backboards, and the global market for backboards is projected to remain in mid-single digits over the forecast period 2018 to 2028.
Tempered Glass is High-end but Polycarbonate is Most Preferred
The backboard market is segmented on the basis of backboard size, backboard material, backboard system type, buyer type, sales channel, and region. Backboard sizes vary from 48" in width to 72"; however, among all the sizes, backboards of 58" width have been reported to account for the leading share of sales. In terms of material type, acrylic, polycarbonate, plastic, and tempered glass are the key material types used for the manufacture of backboards. The preference for backboard material differs across regions and countries, but backboards with tempered glass have registered maximum sales as compared to backboards with other materials, and are also considered high-end backboards with maximum rigidity.
Polycarbonate and acrylic materials are predominantly grouped together, since both are preferably used on systems in the same price point, and render a similar experience while playing. Backboards with polycarbonate and acrylic materials offer higher rigidity as compared to plastic backboards, and thus, result in better rebound than other backboards, except tempered glass. Polycarbonate and acrylic material-based backboards are largely transparent, which enhances the aesthetics appeal of the system. In terms of price point, backboards with polycarbonate and acrylic materials are also economic in comparison to high-end tempered glass-based backboards, due to the ease and economic availability of raw material used to manufacture these types of backboards. Nevertheless, these backboards are priced higher than the plastic backboards available in the market.
Legacy Markets Continue to Dominate
In terms of regional demand, North America leads the sales charts for backboards, owing to the number of active and passive players in the region. The U.S. alone accounted for around 30 percent value contribution to the global backboard market in 2017. However, it is projected to lose share in the long term against new markets for backboards, due to an upsurge and penetration of basketball across key consumer markets. North America is followed by Europe and Latin America in terms of total demand, whereas, Asia Pacific leads in terms of growth.
Despite the concentration of players in North America, backboard manufacturers are largely concentrated in Asian countries, largely China. These backboard companies, over the past few years, have switched strategy from ‘look to America to cater the rest’. Some of the key market participants in the global backboard market are Decathlon, Russell Brands LLC., Gared Holding Company, Mondo S.p.A., Schelde Sports, and Sport System srl.
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