Each August and January the vast majority of human-powered outdoor industry companies converge in Salt Lake City for the Outdoor Retailer Summer and Winter Market trade shows. The largest and most comprehensive outdoor show of it’s kind, Outdoor Retailer is THE PLACE for retail buyers to view and place orders for upcoming outdoor gear and apparel from industry manufacturers.
Over 1,600 brands spanning product for backpacking and hiking, camping, adventure travel, mountaineering and rock climbing, trail running, mountain biking, paddlesports, fly fishing, fitness, tactical and lifestyle showcase the latest trends and product innovations on the Salt Palace show floor and the Open Air Demo day. In addition to brands, conservation organizations and outdoor media outlets are also present at the show. Beyond the retail buying focus, Outdoor Retailer incorporates educational sessions pertinent to the industry ranging in topics from content marketing strategy to leveraging influencers and product trend innovations to supply chain management. This past Summer Market, held August 3 through August 6, saw nearly 30,000 attendees, making it the largest Outdoor Retailer show to date.
Some of the trends and highlights we noticed coming out of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2016 include:
- Established brands expanding product offerings beyond legacy product lines. At the last few Outdoor Retailers we've noticed an increasing number of long time players in the outdoor space jumping into new product categories. Two examples: Thermarest releasing tents and Arc'Teryx releasing a shoe and boot line.
- Lifestyle/urban-outdoor brands are continuing to influence the market, and crossover products are on the rise. Outdoor brands are zeroing in on how best to connect with millennials. The general consensus is this demographic prefers crossover products that are toned down on the technical side and toned up on the style side. Brands like Poler and Topo launched with this mentality (take a stroll through Venture Out at any Outdoor Retailer show to see the trend setters). Legacy outdoor brands are following suit.
- Trail running is a hot market. Both apparel and footwear focused brands are making a push to roll out product lines that cater to trail runners. Trail running is recognized as a rapidly growing market in the outdoor industry, and many are going after it.
- A growing number of brands are integrating product marketing into thoughtful native storytelling and adventure-based editorial. Patagonia pioneered this art, and it's catching on across the industry.
- Partnerships between brands and conservation/environtmental non-profits are on the rise. Outdoor industry businesses are increasingly putting their money where their mouth is to help protect access to public lands and to heed the call to take a stand on critical environmental issues, such as anthropogenic-caused climate change, that directly impact outdoor recreation. Whether it's supporting Conservation Alliance fundraising or fighting alongside Protect Our Winters, outdoor brands are doing more good and creating meaningful change.
- Tents are getting more colorful. Poler and Alite were on the forefront of this trend; now it's gone mainstream.
The next Outdoor Retailer is the Winter Market show, and it takes place in Salt Lake City from January 9 through January 12.