Hunt or Be Hunted in the Outdoors…Industry (pt. 2)

When it comes to Millennials and marketing, the secret is out. For industry drivers looking to realize green profit margins for decades to come, it is now necessary to leave behind the antiquated methods of catchy jingles and subconscious implications that more is synonymous with better. Like it or not, the impending “internet of things” and the generation at the forefront of integrating ever-evolving technology into daily life will perpetually become more vital to consumerism for the foreseeable future. What’s the difficulty with that? Well, Millennials are proving to be a demographic wholly different from preceding generations.

In order to better understand who Millennials are and gain insight to marketing opportunities, reviewing the circumstances and events that shaped their lives is an excellent place look. Recession, divorce, internet, education, diversity and Wal-Mart are just a few buzzwords that come to mind. These factors have confected a consumer who does buy, but buys deliberately. Born into a world of planetary conscientiousness and dwindling Social Security benefits, Millennials tend to seek relevant products with minimal waste and are not averse to research their options prior to making a decision. This is a telling peek into effective twenty-first century marketing.

With staggering commercial activity taking place on Amazon.com and a Facebook population larger than that of most nations, the question is not whether online advertising is effective. The question is: “What is most effective?” The answer may not be simply one way or the other. The differences in opinions on the answer to this question may be partly responsible for some of the surprising M&A activity markets have recently undergone. Arguably most noticeable among tech giants, buying big seems to be all the rage right now. Might this be a defensive measure taken by companies lacking the innovation to effectively reach out to that younger and hard-to-reach market? Without a proper answer to that question, shareholders demanding explanations for questionable purchases often find themselves disappointed as they’re left waiting for next quarter’s EPS.

As outdoors merchants continue to grapple for market totalitarianism, perhaps making acquisitions isn’t a bad path to follow. Given the right circumstance, a company with deep pockets such as Dick’s could completely restructure the way they interact with their target audience. Take the startup Gearmunk as an example. With a little-to-no product offering of its own, Gearmunk is a mobile app akin to a travel guide for outdoor adventurists. Before embarking on a trip up a mountain or enjoying a day of intense bicycling, all a smartphone user needs to do is consult Gearmunk to find the best testimonials of products and “must-have” guides for their journey. It’s not hard to imagine the implications of such an app for advertisement opportunities. A prospective customer is more apt to believe what they read from other users online because the anonymous person reviewing the product has nothing to gain by selling the product. Once the customer has determined which supplies they need, a simple tap can show them the price, the nearest Dick’s location and give them the option to purchase online.

An attractive feature of buying a startup is low cost in relativity to growth potential. A company such as Gearmunk could likely be picked up within a small player’s budget, but could provide ground for much firmer footing within the space. Today’s industry giants need to keep that in mind as they seek a competitive advantage. If there is one thing certain for the outdoors industry, it is a need for innovation and acquisition before a kingpin can be identified.

Thanks for reading and feel free to leave comments below!

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