How the Outdoor Industry is Leveraging Relationships to Gain More Customers

Updated: Dec 2, 2019


According to the Federal Bureau of Economic Analysis, the outdoor industry is a booming economic powerhouse. In fact, the 2018 report shows that the outdoor industry made up 2% or $370 billion of the entire 2016 U.S. Gross Domestic Product.

Although the outdoor industry is known for thriving, there are additional ways the industry can grow to meet the evolving needs of the digitally savvy shopper. These consumers consider much more than just products or services when making a purchasing decision.

According to a recent study by Walker Group, by the year 2020 customer experience will overtake price and product as the key brand differentiator.

Social responsibility and brand engagement have moved to the top of consumer’s minds. The most effective way to keep your brand on top and reach new consumers is to listen to their feedback. By utilizing customer feedback and analytics, your brand will be able to reach consumers in their shopping journey in a personalized manner.

The Top Ways Brands Can Leverage their Relationships With Customers:

Create Unique Shopping Experiences

Consumer spending has undergone a significant shift within the past 10 to 15 years, instead of purchasing durable goods, consumers are spending more on tangible items that show an interest or effect on the outdoor experience.

According to a recent study, travel gear, outerwear tops, woven shirts, active bottoms and accessories are being snatched up by the experientially driven consumer. According to a 2017 NPD data report, fanny pack sales grew by more than 10% in a year and brought in revenue of more than $100 million.

Creating this experience is not a threat to retailers, but rather an invitation to make outdoor adventures more accessible for Millennials and Gen Zs. The way to achieve retail success among this generation, is to create a digital experience in a compelling manner.

Brands that are taking advantage in creating the best shopping experience are those that are adding a lifestyle component in their advertisements. This creates a unique connection between the shopper and the product. A great example of this is REI, the brand is promoting outdoor experiences in a unique way such as opting out of participating in Black Friday to encourage consumers to spend time outdoors.

The campaign was hugely successful for REI. Their #OptOutside hashtag earned 6.7 billion media impressions and inspired 1.4 million consumers to spend their day outside. The movement vastly increased customer loyalty and grew a general love for the retailer among outdoor enthusiasts across the globe.

Corporate Social Responsibility

Millenials and Gen Zs are highly invested in making the world a better place, which is why they heavily weigh their buying decisions on what a brand stands for.

A 2017 Cone Communications survey found that 87% of Americans will purchase a product because a company advocated for an issue they cared about.

Millenials, for example are likely to research the issues a company supports and the extent to which the company contributes. These shoppers want to know what kind of brand they’re supporting behind their purchasing decision.

A good example of this is North Face’s recent campaign #SheMovesMountains. This campaign focuses on advancing female roles in the outdoors by offering grant options for women explorers. North Face will also be working with more than 1,600 young women from urban environments and actively promoting the benefits of outdoor activity.

The North Face partnered with Camber Outdoors, a company committed to getting more women into leadership roles in the outdoor industry, displaying their investment in creating a more diverse world.

As the outdoor retail industry continues to expand, brands must adapt to leveraging their products with the lifestyle needs of shoppers. By leveraging your relationship with your consumers and responding to their needs, this will in turn enhance your brand to increase revenue and shopper loyalty.

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