Who Says Retail is Dead?

My trip to Salt Lake City last week confirmed my anecdotal knowledge – that is, retail is not dead, at least not in this market segment. Besides the buzz among the vendors and buyers, a few pieces of key data provided by Leisure Trend Group boosted my confidence. Outdoor retail sales have outpaced the general retail market for the last two years, up until December 2010.

The main demographic for this segment is what LTG calls the ‘Active American’ and some of their most recent trends are listed below. And check out the quote in the photo:

  • Equipment for shorter hiking and camping trips, within 50 miles
  • They will pay more for gear that will last longer and be of higher quality
  • They are motivated by gaining higher levels of performance in their activity
  • Using a smartphone to post before, during and after an activity is important
  • They find it extremely important to do activities with family and friends

Of course, there’s a ton of gear and apparel to see. Here are a few of the new ideas, at completely opposite ends of the spectrum. On the ‘Low Tech,’ but highly useful end, were a couple of simple products. One was an easy to install, disposable membrane called the Phone Dome that encapsulates your iPhone for complete waterproof enclosure and even underwater use.

Another was an easy-to-use multi-function eyeglass/sunglass holder that works as a protector, case and neckstrap. http://www.hides.com/

One the high tech end, was an argon filled insulating vest. Lighter and more flexible than down filled vests. http://www.klymit.com/index.php/products/kinetic-vests.html

I also found THE BEST energy bar I have ever tasted in my life. Olympic Granola Bars are all non-processed, all natural and very tasty. The thing that struck me was that they are already approaching non-profits for fundraising opportunities. Look out Trails End popcorn… 

As far as booth design goes, there were lots of good ones. On opposite ends of the spectrum were Keen and The North Face. Keen was very tactile, warm and inviting. The North Face looked like it was from another world. Both were striking.

On Wednesday night, the Wolf moon (full moon in January) peeked over the clouds and presented itself in such an awesome way I had to get a photo. Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses, or check out the moon.

One ‘fun’ thing was a marketing tool Chico Bags called the Bag Monster. It represents the number of plastic shopping bags an average family might consume in a year if they did not use reusable bags.

All in all, a great trip. I even got one solid day of skiing in. 10″ of fresh snow, and no lift lines. And while the skiing was good, the best part of the trip is hanging out with 15-20,000 up beat, active, positive people. It does not get much better than that.