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Fashion March, 4 2013

Bob Sheard of FreshBritain Agency on Outdoor brands and Marketing

Off the back of the ISPO Munich, ‘the world’s largest trade show for Sports and Outdoor goods’, Bob Sheard of agency FreshBritain identifies some of the weaknesses in the current performance goods market. Having worked with the likes of Nike, New Balance, Arc’teryx and UVU, Sheard offers an insider perspective on effective and intelligent brand communication, read his previous posts here.

ISPO Munich, The world’s largest trade show for Sports and Outdoor goods is
over for another 12 months.

So where are the opportunities?

Picture a man stood atop a snowy peak conquering the mountain and you have
covered about 90% of all outdoor brand communication.

We think there are still three major consumer opportunities that seem to be
slipping off brand’s radars.

1) The Women’s Outdoor Performance Brand.

In culture we avidly consume the “Performance Woman”. From Run Lola Run to
Tomb Raider, Kill Bill and Million Dollar Baby it seems we can’t get enough of the
contemporary performance woman.

Why then are performance brands almost exclusively concentrating their
communication on men?

Why isn’t there a “Women’s Outdoor Performance Brand” – By women, for
women?

The character of the Huntress is evident in culture but as yet not in brands.
This is the archetype of the heroic female. It can be traced back to Greek
mythology as the Virgin huntress, Atalanta.

This archetype is winning acclaim for this year’s Oscars as the huntress, Maya in
Kathryn Bigelow’s Zero Dark Thirty. When the brand, the owners and venture
capitalists open their eyes to the opportunity, you know where we are.

2) The Outdoor Youth Brand.

Where the boardsport brands are aiming firmly at a target audience below 25
years the alternative approach is taken by the outdoor brands to pitch their
products at 35 years and upwards. Aren’t they missing a trick? Whilst the
majority of outdoor brands are rushing at the same 35+ door, one brand seems
to be quietly positioning themselves at the less crowded but no less lucrative 18
– 24 sector.
The brand that appears to have acknowledged this is Black Yak, the Korean
mountain brand, which has pitched itself beneath the conventional radar and is
definitely one-to-watch for the emergence of a leading outdoor youth brand.

3) A Luxury Outdoor Brand.

Do outdoor enthusiasts desire luxury goods? For the answer you need look no

further than Range Rover. A ubiquitous sight at country clubs and ski resorts around the world – there are few brands that confer status as obviously and instantaneously as the luxury 4×4. Of course there are luxury ski brands, which fulfil their niche well, but as yet none have staked their place as the super premium brand for the outdoors.

The question is therefore, when will outdoor performance brands occupy the
Luxury Outdoor space that Range Rover has pioneered now for a quarter of a
century.

So there you have it: Women, Youth and Luxury – but not together or at the same
time.

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