Home Blog 2019 Outdoor Retailer 2019 and the Rise of Everyday Outdoor
Jul 15, 2019

Outdoor Retailer 2019 and the Rise of Everyday Outdoor

Subscribe to our blog

As we closed out the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market this year, a good friend who works for a large camping products manufacturer asked if I’d noticed any differences during this year’s event from those held in years past. At that time, I had no obvious answers. However, after a week of reflection, I can say that while no big innovations or marketing tactics specifically jumped out at me, there were two primary themes that seemed to weave throughout this year’s show.  

First, I was struck by number of drinkware companies vying for the attention of buyers. I counted no less than 20 drinkware companies on the floor. This is indicative of a larger outdoor trend with parallels to the athleisure movement in apparel. “Everyday Outdoor” captures the idea of consumers seeking outdoor products with pragmatic, everyday use, as well as those that bring the 'creature comforts' of home - like coffee that stays hot - to the outdoors. The most competitive categories at OR Summer Market were those that had value for everyone, not just athletes or committed outdoor enthusiasts. Categories such as outdoor furniture, grills, and apparel all seemed to have a much larger presence at this year’s show. Perhaps not all too surprisingly, these are the same categories in which The NPD Group is tracking growth at retail.

Of course, the challenge for product managers within these categories is determining how to stand out. I observed very few tradeshow floor booths that were differentiated from those of their competitors at the product level. I was taken aback by the number of manufacturers using cause marketing as a strategy at the show. And that was my second observation.

While the majority of causes were environmental, there were certainly a number of other social issues used to differentiate brands on the floor. The support for a huge range of causes was in full effect during the hosted happy hours held at tradeshow booths.

I actually think these two trends are related. Many brands now rely on a consumer’s connection to a social cause to help them stand out from the others. In an industry where it can be hard to differentiate one product from another, manufacturers have started to understand the value of the advocacy angle.

However, for outdoor brands planning to use their association with causes as an ongoing marketing tactic, they may not want to put all their eggs in the social cause basket. While this strategy is working for many brands, CivicScience research shows that cause marketing is slightly less important to consumers than a year ago. While consumers are looking for brands to take a stand on social issues and want to support those that align with their social values, brands should be careful to watch for other preferences that may eventually impact purchase choices. We know that there are many influences that can take the lead in a consumer’s decision to buy depending on any number of factors.

Consumers are constantly shifting their assessments of brands and products. If the consumer isn’t already product- or brand-loyal and the products they seek don’t stand out as unique, they will continue to seek alternatives.

After seeing so much uniformity in product and trade messaging at this year’s OR Summer Market, I expect to see new business models, pricing, support for rental programs, and exclusive ways to purchase all emerge in upcoming shows as ways to complement the existing product and cause-based stories being told by sports manufacturers at future shows.  

See you at the next show.

Upcoming Event

The Running Event

Presentation Title: Running Market Trend Presentation
Presenter: Dirk Sorenson – Director, Client Development and Industry Analyst - U.S. Sports
Date: Wednesday, December 4 at 7:45 a.m. 
Location: Austin Convention Center | Room #: 18D
Description: Join The NPD Group for an overview of year-to-date market performance of the U.S. running industry. Don't miss this opportunity to hear expert insights on retail sales trends shaping the U.S. running footwear and apparel markets. Gain a deeper understanding of how the run specialty channel is performing and the key categories and price points worth watching closely as you look ahead to 2020 and beyond.

Learn More

Stay current in your industry

Related Blog Posts

Tagged: Sports

Sneakernomics: What Does the NBA-China News Mean for Sports Brands?
Sneakernomics: What Does the NBA-China News Mean for Sports Brands?

NPD’s Matt Powell offers his analysis of the NBA-China dilemma and what the potential implications are for sports brands.

Sneakernomics: Checking in on the Run Specialty Market
Sneakernomics: Checking in on the Run Specialty Market

According to NPD’s Matt Powell, Hoka One One and On Running are two brands within the run specialty channel that are showing strong growth and boosting results within that market. Another brand the market should keep an eye on is Oofos; they are trending nicely in run specialty, and in his opinion could be the next big comfort brand.

Make Way for the Anglers
Make Way for the Anglers

Fishing has established itself as a growth driver for the U.S. paddlesports market, but is also emerging as a focus of growth for the broader specialty outdoor market. Dirk explains how, and why, fishing apparel and equipment are making their way into more stores that once avoided the category.

Sneakernomics: Back-to-School 2019 Athletic Footwear Trends
Sneakernomics: Back-to-School 2019 Athletic Footwear Trends

NPD’s sports industry advisor Matt Powell offers up his perspective on how the back-to-school season of today differs from years past, and what athletic footwear brands and products are trending this year.


Subscribe and get key market trends and insights relevant to your industry each month.

We will not sell your information. View privacy notice.

Follow Us

© The NPD Group, Inc.