Outdoor Marketing Trends

Consumers of outdoor gear come from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and the marketing around outdoor gear has started to shift as well to appease traditional customers and connect with new ones.

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The outdoor category houses so many different activities – backpacking, climbing, skiing, water sports, and many more. The outdoor category also caters to a more leisurely crowd; someone who wants to stroll by a lake, barbecue, or extravagantly car camp and bring the comforts of the indoors to their tent. There are many types of outdoor enthusiasts to cater to in messaging, and the consumer market has broadened in the last 15 years.

“Shrink it and pink it” was the broadly used term describing how outdoor retailers approached women’s clothing, and plus-sizing was not even a consideration. Thankfully, retailers have now moved beyond the idea that one-type-fits-all with outdoor gear. Now, consumers of outdoor gear are coming from diverse backgrounds and perspectives, and the marketing around outdoor gear has started to shift as well. Many people newer to outdoor goods are perhaps not even planning to use their gear outside, but for dynamic activity indoors, such as rock climbing or Crossfit gyms.

Connecting with the newer consumers of outdoor goods while also appeasing its traditional customer has been a challenge for the outdoor industry, and the messaging continues to evolve.

Outdoor Promotion & Email Activity

Mailcharts Outdoor Data From 2019

Most promotional week

Nov. 24-30, 2019

The week of Thanksgiving in 2019 was the most promotional for Outdoor brands. During that week, they sent the most emails that included a promotion.

Most active week

Nov. 24-30, 2019

Outdoor brands sent the most emails in the week following Thanksgiving in 2019 as shoppers started checking gifts off their list.

Strategies for Outdoor Messaging in Emails

Create a Community

Review your gear and enter to win!

Sent by Smartwool

Let your customers speak for themselves – utilize user-generated images and customer reviews. No one tells the story of your product better than your customers. Customers should be getting emails to leave a review, like this example from Smartwool, and talk about their product on social media.

Use the Data

Your Personalized Recommendations.

Sent by Timberland

Segmentation: target customers who have bought certain categories (ski, rock climbing) and market new lines to that audience, like this example from Timberland. Encourage top tier spenders an exclusive look at a sale. Recapture customers who haven’t opened emails. Send hiking or camping recommendations to local users, along with product suggestions. Going to rain this week? Highlight wet-weather gear.

Harness the Power of FOMO

Comfort in a nutshell

Sent by Patagonia

Sweeping visuals, inclusive models – brands like Patagonia make emails that bring your user into the wild. An aspirational email should also tell your user how they can make this happen, either by joining an existing group or excursion, or by showing the products that make the look possible. Don’t be afraid to sweat the details, like giving a recipe for the best camping breakfast or pointing out the product details that makes the activity more accessible or exciting.