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The experiential movement ushers in new consumer groups seeking Instagram-worthy outdoor adventures.

BY A N N LOY N D

The Outdoor Types

Getting one with nature à la Astral.

ORE AND MORE, Americans are choosing to eschew material things in favor of adventurous experiences. From Millennials looking to bolster their Instagram feeds to Boomer-aged retirees checking off their bucket lists, hashtag-wanderlust is a viral epidemic of a healthy kind. This experiential movement plays nicely into the hands of the outdoor industry because if you’re going to Snapchat from the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, you better have the proper footwear to make it there. Out of this shift, several key consumer target demographic groups—outdoor types, if you will—have emerged: the Millennial experiential traveler, the Boomer weekend warrior, the hard-core adventurer of all ages, the stand-up-paddle yogi and the urban jungle dweller. For many of these consumers, status is earned not by what you possess but by what you do. “It’s really about the experience. That’s a part of this larger shift to modern outdoors,” says Erika Gabrielli, director of marketing for Teva. “Now, it’s not about what’s in your garage but about what you did in the outside world.” Secondly, today’s outdoor lifestyle consumers are looking for versatility to get from trail head to boat launch (or from

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museum to trendy restaurant). “The common thread is approachability. They’re looking for footwear that’s performance-oriented but stylish,” says Colin Butts, director of marketing for Chaco. Another notable takeaway from the experiential movement is that such performance-oriented footwear goes hand-in-hand with brick-andmortar retailing. “Smaller, in-market shops are the cornerstone of the community and have established themselves not only as a place to buy gear but a place to learn about their surroundings,” explains Joe Peters, director of marketing at Vasque. “You’ve got that travel knowledge that exists in specialty retail that’s hard to find in other places.” And since specialty footwear is typically a bigger investment, the ability to present and explain these technical benefits face to face is another in-store advantage. “Our consumers are constantly planning their next trip,” says Kelly Ballou, director of global marketing at Merrell. “They’re investing in footwear, and it can be an expensive purchase. They want pieces that are really versatile.” Now let’s meet our outdoor types. We asked the experts to hone in on whom these shoppers are (their likes, dislikes, M.O.s, etc.) and how best to reach each one.

Footwear Plus | August 2016  

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