A while back, I posted an article deriding the lack of creativity and “sameness” in the outdoor industry. After having spent the past week in the US and Europe visiting Outdoor Retailer and ISPO in Munich, I’m saddened to report that the Land of Lemings has not changed and even worse, there are more brands and excess product in Europe.
Most striking that how few global or pan European brands there are in the outdoor industry in Europe. Outside of The North Face, Patagonia and the emergence of Arc’Teryx, most popular brands remain small, regional players. There continues the belief that only product matters but we all know, from personal experience, it’s often hard to tell the difference between two items. That’s why you see many more BMW’s vs. Hyundai’s on the road throughout Europe. What these companies don’t truly comprehend is that success is not about features and benefits but rather creating an emotional connection to the consumer.
This dynamic is slowing starting to change as competition heats up from US brands and capital remains tight for these smaller brands to expand. Like many other consumer industries, consolidation is starting to occur in the outdoor industry as well. Once the floodgates open, there will likely be the decline of many of these brands. Hopefully, those that survive will learn that just being “me too” isn’t a long term recipe for success