Trends from Outdoor Retailer 2018 Summer Market

Once again, members of Solomon Partners’ Global Retail team headed to Outdoor Retailer, the industry’s largest trade show, to scope out the latest brands, trends and leaders influencing the outdoor market. The Summer Show draws more than 30,000 attendees from around the globe and featured more than 1,400 brands. The continued excitement for enthusiast-based brands has attracted an ever-broadening ecosystem of manufacturers and retailers seeking validation from the outdoor consumer.

New products and technologies are often first unveiled at Outdoor Retailer, offering attendees a glimpse into emerging trends and categories. Here are three key trends we saw:

1. Evolution of Work Wear: Technical, modern work wear continues to represent an attractive growth categoryMany brands are extending from traditional recreational active wear to leverage their product strengths of durability, flexibility and function given strong macro trends in employment as well as consumer affinity for heritage canvas and denim work wear designs.

2. Changing Consumer Tastes: Change seems to be the one constant at Outdoor Retailer, with once ubiquitous categories like stand-up paddle boards, health/nutrition brands, rope climbing and yoga noticeably replaced by a growing array of coolers, rooftop tent manufacturers, vacuum sealed water bottles, H2O backpacks, knife manufacturers, sunglasses and water-proof electronics.

3. “Purpose over Profit” Initiatives: “Purpose-led” innovation was a major theme at the Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. VF Corporation’s CEO Steven Rendle highlighted VF’s efforts to elevate an inclusive, environmental and integrity based purpose to the same level of importance as the brands’ performance and profits.Rendle further highlighted VF’s goals of increasing diversity in leadership, expanding employee empowerment and growing transparency in the business. The North Face also launched its “Move Mountains” campaign in the Spring of 2018, aimed at highlighting women in the outdoor industry.

The Global Retail Group at Solomon Partners continues to evaluate this market and provide strategic advice to leading companies in the Outdoor Recreation Industry.

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