Curious about how to help your outdoor brand stand out in a crowded and growing industry? We’re going to break down the top trends of 2020 to help your brand stand out. 

Let’s start with the numbers… 

The outdoor industry generated over 887 billion dollars a year in consumer spending. Knowing how to appeal to that audience, and defining your spot in the broader industry is crucial for success.

Inclusive campaigns

While those who enjoy the outdoors come from varied backgrounds, the marketing campaigns produced for outdoor brands have traditionally been dominated by white people. This is despite the fact that Black and Latinx people actually went on more outdoor excursions than White folks. Beyond race, outdoor participation is also fairly evenly split between women and men at 46% and 54% respectively. Another note? Age. 36% of participants were over the age of 45, while marketing for the outdoors tends to skew towards younger people.

As we move into 2020, thinking about globalization and inclusivity within outdoor advertising campaigns is becoming essential. Businesses like Hoka One One and REI are making strides with their more size, race, and LGBTQ inclusive campaigns, but there’s still work to be done to make sure that the outdoor industry’s marketing efforts are as diverse as those who participate in it. 

For brands looking for inspiration, check out Black Girls Trekkin, Melanin Base Camp, and the Outdoor Advocacy Project. They are all great groups diversifying what it means to be passionate about the outdoors. When you build out these campaigns, centering folks who haven’t been included is an important element to success. As you build out campaigns, think about how this plays into your messaging, ad creatives, persona development and channel strategy. 

Sustainable practices

Sustainability has been a growing trend in the outdoor industry. 75% of outdoor brands, regardless of company size, had at least one person who’s personally responsible for sustainability efforts.  Whether it’s plant-based fabrics, donations to environmental causes, or reusing materials, we’re seeing outdoor brands come up with innovative ways to improve the sustainability of the industry. With tools like the Higg Index gaining in popularity, especially among large brands where 73% reported using it, taking the next steps in your initiatives is crucial both for the planet and profit.

Some of our favorite campaigns? Patagonia’s Worn Wear, where they repair a product and sell it used, while giving credits back to the folks who donate it, as an effort to reduce the amount of clothing in landfills. We also love Burton’s ambitious 2020 goals, including 100% reusable, recyclable, or compostable packaging and they’re using 100% bluesign® for their softgoods. Plus, their snowboarding factory, which runs on 100% renewable energy using responsibly sourced materials, is just too cool. Cotopaxi is also killing it, reusing fabric to create one-of-a-kind products instead of filling the landfills. We’re proud to stand with these companies as a fellow B Corp. When you’re leveraging the commitment your brand makes to sustainability throughout your assets and across platforms, it can help you grow awareness and momentum around your initiatives. Spend time working with your marketing department or agency to ensure people know about the improvements you’re making in your business and your impact goals. 

Urban outdoor enthusiasts

As more and more people live in cities, finding ways to help them get outdoors will be crucial. After all, 82.5% of people will live in urban areas by the end of 2020. Whether it’s multi-purpose gear that can go from the office to a hike, or working to eliminate obstacles for those in cities to get into the great outdoors, brands will need to create easy ways for folks to pursue the adventures they’re passionate about. The rise of athleisure is just the beginning. With outdoor activities in cities, including the rise of rock climbing gyms, brands have an increasing opportunity to outfit office workers in gear that goes from cubicle to crux. 

As you create assets and campaigns, take the time to think about how you’re reaching these folks. How are your marketing materials appealing to them? You can do this through product, creative, or campaign initiatives. Showing the folks in cities how your product helps urban enthusiasts in their region will make all the difference. 

Story over performance

In the outdoor industry, performance used to be the name of the game. However, attitudes around the outdoors have shifted. While performance is important, cause is increasingly a reason for a customer’s purchasing decisions. 78% of Americans believe companies must do more than just make money; they must positively impact society as well. 86% of consumers believe that companies should take a stand for social issues

As outdoor brands move into the next decade, they need to be able to share their stories behind their products and their company’s vision for the future. Some rockstars in this area? Patagonia’s simple but poignant call-to-action, “We’re in business to save our home planet,” and Luna Bar’s “Luna Fest” highlighting films by and about women. We’re seeing work from the outdoor community on diversifying their storytelling by using animated videos to share how they’re making an impact. Go beyond simply telling your story with a product. Share using your social media channels, website, and collateral. 

As members of the outdoor community and digital marketers, we’re excited to help create the next big shift in the outdoor industry. From running and biking to hiking and climbing. Let’s get to work.