mountain photography.jpg


Digital Business Articles for the Outdoors Industry

Conference Spotlight on Digital Disruption for Key Outdoors Industry Player

Mount Rainier National Park

I’m just back from delivering the keynote at the annual international conference for one of the longest-established and most influential outdoors companies. Don’t worry about who it is (we weren’t at the location pictured), as we have mutual NDAs in place - the interesting bit is that, having recognised that they need to adapt, they were keen to get their internal teams and their channel partners thinking about how they should respond to the current and near-horizon challenges of digital.

Given that the distributive model in the industry has been pretty stable for at least the last 20 years, it’s easy to understand why changes that are disrupting everything - from where consumers get their information, to where they buy, to the breakdown of territory boundaries and classical brand launch planning - are viewed largely as threats and problems.

However, as this company has recognised, these changes aren’t going away so, before they lose traction or have to make dramatic changes to their business model, they’re looking to adapt and to get ‘on the front foot’. After all, it’s much better to set the agenda and lead, than it is to follow.

They were also kind enough to ask me to stay on and engage in the (very professional and thorough) workshops delivered by the various brand and product teams. As ever, it’s here that sales teams and channel partners get into the heart of their opportunities and issues - and where the brand and product teams build clear insights into how they can better align their efforts with the trade and the consumer.

Not surprisingly, sustainability and its communication is a hot button topic for many channel partners, especially in Europe and, unlike many outdoors players, where the marcomms and packaging have a tendency towards some ‘greenwashing’, this business’ issue is that sustainability is pretty much hardwired into its ethos, but not that strongly marketed. I suspect there’ll be some change in this stance.

For me, it was intriguing to witness a well-established global outdoors business challenging itself, despite continued success (or maybe that’s why they’re successful!). I’ll certainly be benchmarking other players against the conversations I had, as their plans for 2020 and beyond start to emerge. It’ll certainly frame some of my discussions at Outdoors by ISPO.

Andrew Atkins