Marco Solar CEO of Angelurlaubtipps.de, an independent European website dedicated to the promotion of individual fishing trips for a German speaking audience, talks about business insights on the European recreational fishing industry. You will find first hand information of the biggest and most active companies but also real insider tips on dealing with the big amount of different local industries.
Imagine you have a good running fishing related business in the United States and you are planning on expanding to the European market. I am sure you will soon find yourself in a situation with a big collection of important steps and contact points, tons of business listings and thousands of contacts to reach out to. Until you will be totally lost without any idea on how and where to do the first important steps.
Europe can be stressful in terms of starting a business if you have no experiences on the continent at all. One good advice any financial advisor would give you is, focus first on the biggest markets. In fact even this task can be challenging as there is no central portal that gathers data from all countries if we talk about fishing. You can orientate yourself on the numbers of people that life in a country, or you look at their languages. Some countries speak the same language. For example you find german speaking clients in Germany of course, but also in Austria, Belgium and in Switzerland.
You could assume that x % of the people of each country are attracted to recreational fishing and make up a marketing plan out of this. I can tell you, even this planning will not be the best tactic. Some small countries are much more attracted to fishing and have much more money to spend on fishing trips plus some new tackle.
Have a look at Belgium and the Netherlands. Two relatively small countries in terms of size but two big markets in Europe to prioritise for your business. Fishing here is very popular and everybody has a decent salary which will be spend for some parts on sportfishing. Romania or Hungary is also popular with sportfishing and very big compared to Belgium and the Netherlands, but people there got less money to spend.
If you easily follow the expanding route of other big US companies you go first to Germany, France and the northern countries. Afterwards Italy, Spain and Poland are very big and good options to start with.
By the way, the Netherlands are just in this moment as I am writing getting their own Amazon marketplace. Until today they had to use the German or any other version of Amazon at their big neighbour countries. Just as a side note on how far or not we are globalised in Europe. Germany still has some parts of their country not covered with decent internet connections. To save money, the letter post in Belgium is only delivered twice per week now. Keep things like this in mind if you got big plans on Amazon Europe, on any streaming related service or maybe a 24 hour shipping of photo prints by letter post. Europe is different and challenging.
Another topic these days is the UK. A lot of European companies are leaving the country to settle down somewhere else within the EU. Trades with the United Kingdom are kept of and they will be more isolated again. It is an amazing point to discuss about, whether you should go to the UK or not now. I will leave the discussion at this point and come back on the main topic: How to start a business in the fishing industry.
How to start a business in the fishing industry in Europe?
After my global introduction on the steps you have to take to get your business to Europe, I am giving you some interesting first hand insights on concrete points plus the most important contacts you will need.
Have you ever heard of the ASA? The American Sportfishing Association, or maybe the so called AFFTA – American Fly Fishing Trade Association? There is also the EFTTA, our European Fishing Tackle Trade Association. The EU dependant to the US versions was established in London in the year of 1981. Like the other associations too, the EFTTA’s goal is to promote the broad variety of interests of the European fishing tackle trade and other regarding businesses on the worldwide market.
Following the EFTTA you will see that there is a very interesting expo by them every year. This is a great opportunity to get in contact with the most important partners you can have in Europe. If you chose to be a member of the EFTTA you will be also able to exhibit at the fishing expo in Europe as foreign company. The best news is, if you are already a member of the ASA, AFFTA or any other national fishing association you can also exhibit at the the expo without becoming a member.
What is the best planning then, if you have managed to get into the big EU fishing expo? You will bring your flyers, your samples and a lot of sales knowledge for sure. But is it not also a good idea to bring at least some locals onto your boat? To get your promotion material translated into some of the main EU languages?
Check out possible issues before and not while attending the expo. For example, a lot of EU countries do not allow you to fish with live-bait. It would be a shame then if you try to sell them a, let us say live-bait tank or a new trolling system.
Let me advise you to translate your content to some European local languages. You will need a local native speaker that assist you with preparations and at the expo itself. Calculate your sales prices in Euro. A B2B client in Europe will not be amused if he has to recalculate your USD prices. The last step would be to make sure you have a fast delivery chain. Often it is much faster and more productive to rent a warehouse at some of the top European distribution points. We have a lot of big distributors that can process all your EU orders faster then by shipping them one by one over the big ocean.
Not every company has the size and the possibilities to follow my points above. Do not be disappointed, there are some other ways to get grip on the EU fishing market as US company. As mentioned earlier, we have Amazon too. And even some more big marketplaces that only sell to some of the local EU countries. These online marketplaces are a great chance for all smaller business to get sales without big investments.
Anyways you will need translations of your product text etc. and at some point also a VAT ID and things like this. But you could make sales from day one without having any big marketing or expo expenses. You have one shipment to an Amazon fulfillment center in Europe and from there your orders will be distributed often within 24 hours to your clients.
My last tip on doing business at the EU recreational fishing sector is, get your product in at an existing EU distribution company. My first strategy here was to do the full job. Build a complete business in Europe including a webshop, maybe even real shopping stores and local client service. The second way is try it via the marketplaces. That is a full and a light option. The third one I will give you is somewhere between.
If you get your product sold by your EU partners, they will most likely do the translations. Also they will do the marketing and the client service. You can consider yourself in the happy position of an international B2B trading company. The downside is, you will make less money than you would do with method number one – by direct sales. The positive side is that you are only in contact with business partners and you do not have to deal with the B2C part at all.
Doing business in Europe compared to your local market
I am sure every reader knows that doing business in Europe is different to what you are doing at home on your local market. But people tend to see it less challenging then it can be. Even an european senior e-commerce owner finds it difficult to deal with each new law and regulation that pops up. How can you be sure to do everything right and not forgetting some very important things like: regulations that makes your product unsellable, fees you have to pay for certain things at certain administrations or offices. At this point we are not even talking about taxes.
In my eyes the best thing is not to compare the european market with your local one. You should see it as a new terrain. A new challenge that needs new ways of communication, distribution, advertising, marketing and after sales services. The recreational fishing sector in the US is very big and very well established. Here in Europe there are a few old companies of course, but there is also a big part of startups that change our markets in terms of prices, product availability and advertising.
Compared to the United States you can start any business easily on a much smaller scale. If you have for example 50 prototypes of your product and you drive 200 Miles in total to get your samples to every fishing tackle store in your area, you cover already a big piece of your possible outreach. The fisherman will notice your product and they will talk about it, at least if it is a good one. You can say that about 50 – 75% of all fishermen are aware of your release.
Let us take this example to Florida. If you drive 200 Miles around you face a nearly uncountable number of fishing related stores and personal services where you possibly could place your items to promote them. The questions is: ‘How to get the same impact on 50 – 75% with my promotion if you think about my words above?’. You could give your samples to every 10th store, or you could give every contact point within just 20 Miles a sample product. Now you get the idea and the differences of promoting your business on a local basis, compared between Europe and the US.
The recreational fishing market in Europe is less deep than the US market. But it is way more broad from what I can say of my personal experiences. I went to the United States some times. I have seen the Florida fishermen and mega stores but also have meet the flyfishing friends of Maine. I travelled Europe a lot, and I am following closely the problems with fishing shops that had not gotten a grip on the online market. I see possibilities coming up and maybe even new very big stores like you had with eg. Sports Authorities etc. Yet we do not have a real network of supermarket or mega shop style fishing stores.
My biggest advice to you if you want to do business in Europe is, get the right local partners that can do the best promotion. Do your research well and always keep in mind that you need to figure out all key points for every country again and again. There are not two countries out of all European Union members that have similar regulations. No matter if you got questions on fishing or trading, you will be amazed on all these little different laws per EU country. Only a smart native speaking local with enough experiences around your business idea can assist you well.
Conclusion Fishing Business insights Europe
Yes you are one step further and you already got some hot and helpful tips and how to do deal with the european fishing industry as US company. Here you find a short conclusion and some links to the mentioned EU contact points, officials and fishing influencer you could start outreaching at.
- Follow other big US companies in Europe and focus first on the biggest markets.
- Get a contact at the EFTTA – European Fishing Tackle Trade Association. Use your advantages if you already a member of the ASA or AFFTA. Attend at least one expo.
- Translate your marketing and promotion content to some of the european main languages (spanish, german, french, italian, polish…) in addition to your english material. Get local partners that will give you all needed local connections.
- Calculate your USD $ sales prices in € Euro. Get knowledge of trade and selling taxes. Know your shipping costs for all EU countries, in € Euro.
- EU online marketplaces are a great chance for any kind of smaller business to get sales without big investments. There is for example Amazon in Germany, the UK, France, Italy… We have Ebay, BOL, CDiscount, Rakuten, Hood and many others.
- Promote your product at existing EU fishing related distribution companies. Make it a B2B strategy and try to get into the supply chain somehow. They will do the big B2C part.
To close my article and to leave you with another set of ideas in your mind I tell you the following. If you are scared and do not see yourself doing a great business in Europe because of the high numbers of to-do tasks. If you think this is to big and this is to much for me because I do not have the capacities to work out 10 – 20x marketing plans / researches. Then you should maybe begin collecting data from Japan! It is one big country with some wealthy fisherman that loves to buy high end tackle. To start your journey you can connect here at the Japanese Fishing Tackle Manufacturers Association (JAFTMA).
With all the best regards to you at the United States from the belgian coastline where I am at while writing this text. If you got any feedback on doing business in Europe related to fishing I am more than happy to hear from you. Please leave a comment, maybe we can even start a productive discussion here. Please share all your thoughts and ideas.
Yours Marco Solar.