Back to Nature
The days of cuddling up in a five-star hotel, sipping champagne and nibbling delicacies brought long after midnight by room service may not be gone forever, but there certainly has been a shift in the way people are vacationing. Recent months have seen the presidential suites, a la carte dining and four-poster beds morph into a canoe rental with a cooler, a few sleeping bags and some insect repellent. Today, "getting out of town" places a strong emphasis on "out."
This past February, the Associated Press reported, "More than 285 million people visited national parks and other units of the National Park Service during 2009, up from nearly 275 million in 2008." This increase mirrors a reciprocal rise in more traditional outdoor vacations, as well as vacations spent doing more local activities. Paul Cernohous, director of sales, special markets for Coleman, Wichita, Kan., noted, "'Stay-cations' and 'done-a-day' activities have increased dramatically within the past two years. This is driving the increase of sales in camping equipment, [and] fishing, tailgating [and] portable cooking items."
These stay-cations are also changing the way end-buyers purchase outdoor promotional products. Daniel Berkowitz, president of West Chester, Pennsylvania-based Picnic Plus by Spectrum noted, "In the past, products may have been targeted for a single consumer, [but] now due to the economy, more people are participating with their entire families in outdoor activities."
Just because people are looking for less-expensive vacations doesn't mean they aren't spending money. Cabela's Incorporated, the world's largest direct marketer of hunting, fishing and camping merchandise, realized revenue gains throughout 2009; even during a recession, consumers are still electing to pay for a recognized brand with a high perceived value. "Brand names are an important factor in the outdoor market," explained Cernohous. "They offer quality product and the ability to co-brand with another company."
In addition to the higher quality and durability associated with camping gear, an important aspect to illustrate to end-buyers is logo longevity. "Many of these products have a higher perceived value than the actual net costs," said Berkowitz. "Explain to your clients about the long-term value of the item and ... that their logo will be seen by the end-user for years, rather than days."
In a time where sales opportunities for other products are more difficult to come by, Berkowitz described outdoor accessories as being "An underdeveloped market, serviced by niche suppliers that offer a full line of products geared toward outdoor living." Like Cabela's Incorporated, distributors of camping gear can look forward to increasing sales as the popularity of outdoor adventures and vacations grows. With the chilly first quarter behind us and sunnier skies ahead, Berkowitz explained that distributors should start going after these accounts now. "The winter weather has finally broken and people are ready to get back outdoors."