Outdoor Brands and Marketing

Article first published

Written by Bob Sheard

Off the back of the ISPO Munich, ‘the world’s largest trade show for Sports and Outdoor goods’, Bob Sheard of agency FreshBritain identifies some of the weaknesses in the current performance goods market. Having worked with the likes of Nike, New Balance, Arc’teryx and UVU, Sheard offers an insider perspective on effective and intelligent brand communication, read his previous posts here.

ISPO Munich, The world’s largest trade show for Sports and Outdoor goods is over for another 12 months.

So where are the opportunities?

Picture a man stood atop a snowy peak conquering the mountain and you have covered about 90% of all outdoor brand communication.

We think there are still three major consumer opportunities that seem to be slipping off brand’s radars.

1) The Women’s Outdoor Performance Brand.

In culture we avidly consume the “Performance Woman”. From Run Lola Run to Tomb Raider, Kill Bill and Million Dollar Baby it seems we can’t get enough of the contemporary performance woman.

Why then are performance brands almost exclusively concentrating their communication on men?

Why isn’t there a “Women’s Outdoor Performance Brand” – By women, for women?

The character of the Huntress is evident in culture but as yet not in brands. This is the archetype of the heroic female. It can be traced back to Greek mythology as the Virgin huntress, Atalanta.

This archetype is winning acclaim for this year’s Oscars as the huntress, Maya in Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. When the brand, the owners and venture capitalists open their eyes to the opportunity, you know where we are.

2) The Outdoor Youth Brand.

Where the boardsport brands are aiming firmly at a target audience below 25 years the alternative approach is taken by the outdoor brands to pitch their products at 35 years and upwards. Aren’t they missing a trick? Whilst the majority of outdoor brands are rushing at the same 35+ door, one brand seems to be quietly positioning themselves at the less crowded but no less lucrative 18 – 24 sector.

The brand that appears to have acknowledged this is Black Yak, the Korean mountain brand, which has pitched itself beneath the conventional radar and is definitely one-to-watch for the emergence of a leading outdoor youth brand.

3) A Luxury Outdoor Brand.

Do outdoor enthusiasts desire luxury goods? For the answer you need look no further than Range Rover. A ubiquitous sight at country clubs and ski resorts around the world – there are few brands that confer status as obviously and instantaneously as the luxury 4×4. Of course there are luxury ski brands, which fulfil their niche well, but as yet none have staked their place as the super premium brand for the outdoors.

The question is therefore, when will outdoor performance brands occupy the Luxury Outdoor space that Range Rover has pioneered now for a quarter of a century.

So there you have it: Women, Youth and Luxury – but not together or at the same time.

Written by Lena Dystant

Article first published

Written by Bob Sheard