A Breath of Fresh Air
Unless you are a member of the Bikini Icefishing team (yes, there is such a thing), chances are you, your clients and their end-users have been in a deep hibernation over the last few months. Everyone has been waiting for warmer weather, and springtime sunshine is at long last about to emerge from behind those cold dark clouds.
At first strike of the sun's warm rays, we humanoid creatures begin our exodus back to the great outdoors. Whether it be to sandy beaches, mountain trails or a BBQ right in the back yard, there are promotional opportunities galore that will put your client's brand outside for all the world to see.
WHAT'S HOT UNDER THE SUN
Today, no matter what the market is, portability reigns supreme. End-users like to take their stuff with them, and today's technology has enabled this trend to grow. "With the growth and popularity of portable digital electronics, outdoor products that cater to these products have become all the rage," said Sunny Mehta, sales B2B markets for 365 Wholesale, Deer Park, N.Y. "Portable speaker systems for iPod and audio jacks in food coolers are now the norm."
Bill Lines, director of marketing for RoadPro, Palmyra, Pa., explained the most enduring of trends are those that are time-tested. He noted, "Name brand products are popular in the leisure products and camp gear arena, like Stanley drinkware, Igloo coolers and Esbit stoves. The rugged reputation of these brands are what end-buyers are looking for in outdoor products."
For those who like to camp out at home, the hottest trend hitting the marketplace is BBQ products. Mehta explained why this trend is popular right now. "In the past few years we've seen a big surge in the overall interest of barbecue cooking. Because of food shows like Boy Meets Grill, Rachel Ray and Bobby Flay, more people than ever are trying barbecue throughout the year, but especially in the warmer months," he said. The universal appeal of cooking on the grill makes BBQ products an easy sell. "BBQ sets are a perfect fit on every count," Mehta continued. "They are hard-wearing, used by nearly every household and primarily used in social settings." There is simply no better way for you to get your client increased brand exposure than when a product is used in front of a crowd.
HOW TO GET 'ER DONE
While outdoor markets tend to hold up well in tight financial times—because they cater to within budget "staycation-type" leisure time activities—there is still skill required when it comes to making the sale. "[Distributors] need to make sure they know the products they are selling and the market they are selling to," said Bernie Trowbridge, vice president of Dallas-based Redline.
Lines noted the importance of seasonality. "Spring is the time to close sales. Sell to this market early in the year, while inventories are plentiful and opportunities abound," he said. But spring isn't the only time to seal the deal. "Late summer is the other popular time for these products, primarily in the picnic and tailgating arenas," Lines said.
Mehta agreed that spring is prime selling season for outdoor products, but urged distributors not to forget the biggest selling season of the year. "One shouldn't underestimate the holiday season as well. Someone who enjoys the outdoors will be excited about the right gift in any season it is given," he explained.
By far the most important educational point in selling outdoor promotional items is finding products that will stand up over the test of time. Distributors don't want to have an end-user in the middle woods have a product fail or fall apart on them, because sometimes a memory can last a lifetime. "For the maximum benefit to the gift-giver over the long term, it pays to pick quality products with durability, high potential for brand exposure and universal appeal," Mehta stated.
Regardless of economics, employment statistics and budgets, outdoor products are still in recovery mode. Lines explained, "The leisure/camping market has struggled along with the rest of the industry. However sales are rebounding this year, and we look for further gains into next year. This market niche is great because it gives the distributor an opportunity to think outside the box and stretch their product offering."
With a product offering that is for sure a feel good sell, who wouldn't want to be a part of helping friends and family make memories that last a lifetime? "Most outdoor products get used during the best leisure time a family experiences—summer days at the beach, picnics at the park, camping in the mountains. There is nothing better than having your brand associated with those memories," said Mehta.
But, as always there is the bottom line to consider, and outdoor products are sure to increase yours as a distributor. Trowbridge summed it up perfectly, saying, "If you take the time to get to know the products and the type of people that use them there is a lot of money to be made. Many areas in the outdoor sports and leisure markets are not afraid to spend money."