Outdoor Retailer Recap: the Top Stories from ORSM ’11
As a unit, the crew at Verde has about a jillion Outdoor Retailer shows under their collective belt; but to attend an Outdoor Retailer is to be routinely surprised, wowed, and, sometimes shocked at the technology, foresight, and ingenuity of what emerges from the folks in our industry.
It’s one part Mr. Wizard, one part van-down-by-the-river, and one part Pale Ale, and, we think this is how it should be.
So as we glanced around the show floor this August and saw thousands of PR and marketing folks, athlete ambassadors, and sales reps at their Hootsuite, Facebook, and WordPress command ships, we grabbed some broadband out of the Salt Palace’s tied-up pipes to bring you the macro level trends that emerged from this summer’s show.
Hey! Nice to see you, man!
Several people remarked about “what is the function of OR anymore?” due to the seemingly low number of buyers actually placing orders. Exhibiting brands staff A LOT of marketing/PR people in the booth to show/talk about product, make connections with media, athletes, etc.
All you need to do is watch the #ORShow hashtag take wings during the build up to OR to see how much our industry is becoming a giant #OIBiz tweet-up. Is the objective of OR simply to grow your brand’s awareness? Is it because brick and mortar retail isn’t the sole option anymore? Is the emphasis shifting towards Internet placements and interactions – with links back to your webstore – being the commanding objective?
Emerging industries within outdoor
Verde is becoming more heavily involved in the outdoor/active canine scene and we thought it was an interesting trend (and there was a story in the OR Daily) about how much the dog product exhibitors have grown in the past year. The pet industry is flourishing- and there is a lot of crossover in the outdoor market with a similar consumer.
Take it personally
Customization of gear in the sewn goods industry has been going on for years with companies like Nike, Timbuk2 and Puma offering custom design platforms to consumers. At the OR Show, Princeton Tec launched one of the first customization platforms in the non-sewn goods industry by introducing their new Spectrum – where you can design your own custom Fuel headlamp. They are the first in the outdoor lighting industry to have such a program. Brilliant! And cool.
Homegrown still matters
Made in the USA is still an eyebrow-raising story. Brands like Chums (100% MIUSA), Teko (100% MIUSA…and most of the material is sourced domestically, too), and Ibex (75% MIUSA) still matters to media…and consumers. We’re all more than a bit self-consciously aware that a huge percentage of our industry’s products are made overseas. A renaissance and shift of production would be of Ed Sullivan-presents-the-Beatles level excitement as far as we noticed this summer.
How much is too much? Keep pushin’
Just how light and breathable can a fabric be and still be completely waterproof? Who can push the limits on these fabrics? Outdoor Research is getting there with a new jacket, and the trend just keeps making new discoveries and pushing harder.
bluesign technologies was covered nearly everyday in the SNEWS OR Daily. The importance of their in-depth auditing and the value of their certification is definitely a hot topic right now, more so than ever before. The coverage on bluesign at the show was turning heads; not only manufacturers but suppliers and retailers, as well. (Teko is the ONLY sock manufacturer in the industry that is blueSign Certified and PrimaLoft is the only synthetic insulation that is also bluesign certified.)
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This has been happening for the last few seasons, but the line between trade and consumer is blurring with the advent of more and more bloggers/online editors in attendance at OR and reporting from the show, and the increase in the volume and push around social media. Things happening at the trade level are being reported to the consumer audience, simultaneously building anticipation of new products and creating confusion about when they are actually available.
Gotta have it
GOTS Certified is a growing trend as reported by SOS. GOTS is like organic textile certification as FDA has organic certification for foods and skin care products, etc. It is a really hard certification to achieve and goes into the farming, the soil, how the animals are treated, and how the wool is prepped. It stands for Global Organic Textile Standard and covers production, processing, manufacturing, packaging, labeling, exploration, importation and distribution of all natural fibers. The natural movement is taking hold and we can see more and more companies incorporating this into their ethos.
Who’s got Klout?
We’re noticing that manufacturer sales reps are embracing social media more now. Verde’s Rep University trainings with our clients are going strong, and we’re seeing companies like True Hero events act as on-the-ground promotional and social media “arms” for manufacturers and rep agencies.
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