Outdoor Musings: Industry Expert Discusses Shoppers’ Return to Nature

Here, Greg Thomsen, an outdoor industry veteran and the chief outdoor officer at Adidas Outdoor, Agron, shares some of the latest trends he sees emerging in the sector:

• Utilitarianism: It’s escapism that manifests itself in the outdoor industry. Consumers can wear one thing that serves 10 different purposes. It’s the trend of simplicity and less clutter.

• Outside is safer: The sovereignty of individual choice is key. Consumers want to have control over what they do. People don’t want to be inside.

• Backcountry trends: It’s really interesting how many people were heading into the backcountry this year. With parks, campgrounds, and public spaces filled up, a lot of people put in the effort to backpack, bikepack, or just do longer, out-of-the-way adventures. I think we’ve seen that reflected in gear sales.

• Riding bikes: Of course, it was great to see the bike industry surge this year, perhaps more than any other space in our outdoor world. It’s not so unique, but it’s a good story. What would be unique is if it continues into next year.

• Working together: While it feels like there have been more announcements lately in the industry, it seems to really be focused on partnerships, advocacy efforts, collaborations, virtual engagement, and less about a new product. So that’s not really a unique trend, but it also seems to be where brands have shifted their efforts in these times. Maybe it’s budget-related, or an outcome of our changing social climate, or because this reset has allowed companies to refocus their mission/priorities. Who knows!

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• Advocacy efforts: Brands have used this time to step up advocacy programs and partnerships, even when budgets are tight; and sustainability efforts, both brands and stores, have been announcing reductions in plastic packaging, B-Corp and carbon neutral certifications, etc.

• Inclusivity: Partnerships, programs and campaigns have launched to build a more inclusive industry, support diversity in the outdoors, highlight BIPOC advocacy efforts and creators, and increase representation.

• Accessibility: Products are being offered at price points that support the growth of outdoor participation, especially this year, to keep new and budget-conscious consumers engaged. And there’s gear for local adventures vs. expeditions.

• Undyed: Adidas, Salomon, Merrell, etc., have launched footwear in recent years free of dyes that reduce water, chemical, and energy use.

• Heritage/Classic: [Classic] styles with enhanced features, tech and sustainability [through the use of] new materials.

For more Business news from WWD, see:

Outdoor Brands Talk Coronavirus Impacts

Brick-and-Mortar, Digital Retailers Adjust Strategies in Wake of Coronavirus

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