While winter sports enthusiasts are musing over what might happen during the upcoming ski season, summer outdoor recreation suppliers and distributors are gathering this week online (July 21-23) for the first-ever remote Outdoor Retailer Trade Show and Educational Program. Hundreds of products are on display for outdoor retail specialists to purchase and webinar conversations are focusing, as they have in the past few years, on increasing diversity, combative climate change, who is buying what and, unique to this particular year, how recreational enthusiasts are going to vote in the fall.
Lively Conversations on Diversity, Climate Change and Voting in November
On that last topic, according to a Conservation Alliance survey, candidates’ positions on “protecting lands and water” and “combating climate change” will play a significant role on how outdoor enthusiasts vote and for whom they vote. It seems that this audience is motivated. In fact, 57% of those who answered the survey said that they are more likely to participate in the election process in 2020 than they did in 2016. Still outdoor enthusiasts lag behind the general population in their “likeliness to vote” according to the survey.
Products on display this week will not be available for sale to the public until next spring but a few details about what products are moving and what people are participating in are a key part of the conversation especially as the country deals with Covid-19. Bike sales are through the roof, sweatshirts are selling like hot cakes and, although it is not really part of the so-called “outdoor community” golf is on the rise. In general, the outdoor industry is pushing the “healthy lifestyle” message and enjoying life outdoors in spite of Covid-19.
Multiple workshops during OR have tackled the complexities of diversity. One, hosted by Angelou Ezeilo, CEO of the Greening Youth Foundation, and featured a video called “Systemic Racism Explained” and a provocative a provocative conversation among three young panelists who cited some of their experience as “people of color” in a predominantly white world. “The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is encouraging their member companies to sign a Diversity Pledge to help companies develop plans that encourage “people of color” and other diverse populations to participate in outdoor recreational activities. It’s a topic that is being addressed by the snow sports trade group, SnowSports Industries America (SIA).
OIA also has created something called the Climate Action Corp to deal with climate change and reducing carbon footprints. Its web site explains that “the outdoor industry is collaborating to lead on climate action through the Climate Action Corps. Companies that join commit to measure, plan and reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and share their progress annually.”