Sunday, July 22, 2007

New Tech for the Outdoors

The Outdoor Industry is working hard to adapt to a new century and the needs of the Millennials. In a summer 06 edition of Outdoor Gear Trends (no Summer 07 available yet), the question is asked "How are the ipod and other electronic technologies affecting product design?

The winners will be companies that develop technologies in partnership with electronic manufacturers to create better outdoor experiences. Why no a trail runner with an integrated MP 3 player and wireless in-ear headset? In short the industry needs to stop reacting to technology and figure ways to use it to create something new and exciting” __Len Cercone, CerconeBrownCurtis, a PR Firm.

Ipod Friendly gloves from Marmot.

We must all adapt to the society being built by the Millennials, but there are questions that this former outdoor gear buyer has:

I wonder if this new gear will be a significant influence to getting people outside? The Outdoor Industry folks say that sales of entry level goods are flat, while high end gear continues to do well. Are kids buying the hight end gear? Sometimes yes, but I wonder if this situation, where entry level is not growing is sustainable?

What can the industry do to get kids involved? The profile of a millenial does offer excellent opportunities for engagement. But we have to get them outside.

The Washington Post had a story Friday about a new man made whitewater park in western Maryland.

When the pumps are going full-bore, the rapids can reach Class IV, which is defined as having "highly irregular waves, a steep gradient . . . difficult eddies and whirlpools" -- in other words, the kind of challenges craved by serious kayakers and rafters.

While not a natural river environment, this is a neat way to engage millennials and get them outside. I'll be doing some onsite research.