New Normal Consulting | ORWM16 launches winter of change and hope
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ORWM16 launches winter of change and hope

ORWM16 launches winter of change and hope

We returned from Outdoor Retailer Winter Market 2016 renewed and enthused, which is really saying something. Our feelings about the new, earlier show dates ranged from “cautiously optimistic” to “downright salty.” It’s safe to say that once everyone arrived we all entered the show-warp. We got to work, and it didn’t really matter when the show started, or when it ended. For the most part, everyone we needed to see was there, and those who weren’t were not really missed. As a team, we attended from bell-to-bell and (for us) the show was definitely worth the time and expense.

As always, we were at the OIA Outdoor Industry Breakfast to hear this year’s keynote speaker, Terry Tempest Williams. Without a doubt, hers was one of the top two speeches ever given at the OIA Outdoor Industry Breakfast (and she gave the other one, too.) You could hear a pin drop as she spoke; all of us were in reverent silence. She urged us all to become activists for wild spaces, reminding all of us: “The land is the source, not a resource.”

At one point, she also asked everyone in the room who was under 40 to stand up. When over half the room rose to their feet, she said: “Good, that gives me hope.”

And it gives us hope, too. For a long time now, we’ve been concerned that the outdoor industry is too old, too male, and too white. Looking around the room, we saw young people of all types. Thanks to Terry Tempest Williams, when we look back on this event, this may be the point at which we as an industry finally saw them, too.

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There’s no question that this demographic (loosely referred to as “Millennials,” though this group includes some Gen-X and Gen-Y folks, too) is going to drive what we do going forward. In fact, there’s a lot that we need to do in order to get ready for them. Outdoor retailers have been following the Boomers for 40 years; the New Normal view is that we’re not well-positioned as an industry for when the Millennials take over as the driving market force.

(Which will be very soon now…)

So with Millennials in mind, today we begin to take a serious look at five game-changing, head-spinning things we brought out of #ORWM16. Over the next few months, we’ll write about each of these topics:

  1. “Omni-Channel” really means “Omni-Me”: We all talk about “omni-channel sales,” and most of us think we know what this means. But most of us are wrong. We need to turn this paradigm on its head in order to understand it better.
  2. “Big Data” doesn’t belong only to the “Big”: Almost everyone we talk with needs more information, and it’s there for the taking. Amazon has it, Google has it, why doesn’t everybody?
  3. “Virtual Inventory” will be key: Virtual inventory is already available in some form in many industries, so why doesn’t everybody in the outdoor industry have it?
  4. Mass customization is going to change the game: We saw things at this #ORWM16 that blew us away, and one of them was from a factory that can make custom gear, and deliver it FAST. Mass customization is already reality elsewhere, so how can we embrace this in outdoor retail?
  5. Big-time consumer financing is coming to small stores: Most large retail chains and online providers have a way to finance expensive consumer purchases. So when will it become more common at outdoor specialty retail, and why isn’t it already?

All of this and more we took away from OR Winter Market. It was a great show and we hope to see everyone at the next one. In the meantime, watch this space…

Brad Werntz

For over thirty years, Brad Werntz has been exclusively employed in the outdoor industry: As a guide and outfitter, a writer and speaker, as specialty retail staff and management, a marketer, and entrepreneur. For twenty-two years PEMBAserves – the sales agency that Brad founded – represented high-end brands to the outdoor industry’s most respected and influential retailers. Brad also founded Boulders Climbing Gym in Madison, Wisconsin and has been its managing member since 1996. Brad is an early-adopter and an innovator who has consistently asked and answered the question: “How is this going to end up?” To Brad, this question is as much about predicting an outcome as it is about influencing it. Brad is very active in the Outdoor Industry Association, and is currently on its Recreational Advisory Council. Brad has served on other environmental, and outdoor industry boards. Brad is the founder and board president of the Wisconsin Business Alliance.

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