- Posted February 13, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Ask the iReport community
What's Better? Marketing Outdoor Gear to the Core or to the Lifestyle?
Let's face it, the reason we have an Outdoor Industry in the first place is because passionate individuals needed a solution to improve their outdoor adventures. This Core Market is where many companies root themselves, and they rely on their authenticity to build their brand presence. There is something special about the serious athlete and true competitor that can bring great meaning to how a brand should be defined. However, along with the core market is a growing market for the “lifestyle” consumer. Many outdoor brands realize the consumer who falls into the “lifestyle” category is more concerned about how they look vs. understanding the functionality of the gear. This is a much larger market for brands to target their message and increase their appeal. So, we have to ask why are so many brands concentrating their marketing on just the core athlete when there is a lifestyle audience waiting to engage? My partner in blog, Ishak Kang and I, visited Outdoor Retailer and talked with brands that are looking to engage in conversation and Social Media in a meaningful way.
Market Leaders in Living Color
The big apparel brands like The North Face and Marmot showcased their new lines and technology with many colorful options. The name of the game is innovation in insulation and improved materials that cut a more flattering line. Even big sporting brands like Adidas and Puma are crossing over into the outdoor/lifestyle space with serious options that utilize their global brand equity. It was very interesting to see smaller brands like Loki Gear position apparel products with multiple features we all think about; however Loki has put those features right into the product. Even a smaller brand like Loki can see the huge opportunity in the lifestyle market.
Quantify Your Self
“Quantified Self” is a growing trend which allows people to “self-track” and continually measure every move they make while climbing, riding, hiking, etc. As much as quantified self is driven by technology it is also building a strong connection directly in the outdoor space. Perhaps technology companies and outdoor brands need to date? We were glad to see some examples of technological innovation around wearable video cameras and networkable sensors. We spoke with Suunto, PivotHead, and legacy watch brand, Timex about the trends around Personal Area Networks. Long dominated by proprietary standards, we are happy to report that Bluetooth Low Energy seems to be gaining acceptance. Now, if these companies can educate the consumer on how to integrate these cameras and sensors into one set-it-and-forget-it package....
Keep Your Feet on the Ground, But Keep Reaching for the Stars
The minimalist footwear trend is still going strong, but we're seeing a bit of hybridization from companies like Sazzi Sandals and Topo Athletic… Interestingly, both companies have founders that have extensive experience in athletic sandals, Teva and Vibram. We think they will fill out this minimal/technical niche quite well. From new to older brands Birkis brings their own technology(Dynamic Footbed) brings great comfort to anyone who wears shoes. Who ever thought so much innovation would go directly into the shoes we wear? While are feet are firmly planted in cool shoes there are many people who place those same feet in the bindings of a snowboard. The popularity of snowboarding continues to grow giving brands like Jones Snowboards the opportunity to make your ride more adaptive given any kind of winter weather. Whether we slip on a pair of shoes or latch onto a snowboard there are a number of companies paying attention to comfort and the consumer’s experience.
Getting Millennials in the Sport
Yes, the millennial segment of the population is alive and well with 1.8 Billion people being born between 1980 and 1995. But who are these people and how do they shop?? They are the first group to be born with technology in the house and have quickly made it integral to how they live…..behave……and ultimately survive. In fact, millennials are the key to the omni-channel shopping cycle. They are just as compelled to give feedback on their shopping experience as they are about the product in hand. Are companies doing what they can to listen? All brands are trying to figure out better ways to cement a relationship that sustains over time so we hope that they adopt an omni-channel, real-time approach to their marketing efforts soon.
For any outdoor brand, bringing them “in the sport” relies on the authenticity of the experience. That is what will get them hooked. Their passion to make great products and profits that benefit people and the planet will serve them well. We hope you enjoy the many brands we showcased on our video at the 2013 Winter Outdoor Retailer tradeshow based in Salt Lake City, Utah.
For more information about any of these products featured, visit us at popr.co and sign up for our newsletter to keep up with the best brands in the Outdoor Industry.
By Bradley D Weisman & Ishak Kang