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Vicky Stickland, our German Managing Director, headed to Messe München for the public unveiling of the future vision and strategy of the OutDoor show. The show has now officially moved to Munich ahead of the new OutDoor by ISPO 2019 instalment. Here Vicky describes her key take outs from the new strategy and outlines a couple of key questions that emerged from the session.

I don’t want to use this blog to simply re-describe the new concept of OutDoor by ISPO. Since the launch, this has been outlined on the ISPO website so you can read all about this here:

Instead I will offer an opinion on where the concept seems to be really strong, based on what I picked up and discussed with several people after the event and where we felt there is still ambiguity surrounding the future concept.

“A unique European hub, with direct access to the Alps and a strong urban outdoor link”

It is hard for me not to be biased towards the city of Munich as the new ‘host city’ for OutDoor, but the key term here is ‘city’. It would appear that the OutDoor by ISPO team are very keen to bring the concept of the ‘city’ more to OutDoor, seamlessly merging the two. They will use the show ground as the key location for the trade to meet, the city as the new urban outdoor playground for consumers and an opportunity for brands to meet and engage with them over the course of the show, via some of the best sporting retailers in the world. With a number of festivals and events to be held throughout the city during the duration of OutDoor, the “Outdays” B2B2C event concept seems very strong and a great compromise between keeping tradeshows for trade but using this time wisely when brands have their key people and ambassadors present to really engage with their end-consumers.

“The future will be defined by the consumer”

I believe the approach of not mixing the two target audiences; B2B and B2C is definitely the right one for brands and it’s a clever move to involve the local retailers and use the city as the place for brands to physically interact with their consumers. This could be amazing. I think communication of what is happening in the city will be key and, with a number of events happening at the same time (over the working week for a typical consumer), brands will need to think of some really clever engagements and activations to gain cut-through in what will be a very crowded consumer-focused week in Munich!

“The lines between outdoor, lifestyle and fashion have become blurred”

OutDoor by ISPO is trying to capture and capitalise on this with their strategy to vastly increase the ‘pool’ of their target exhibitors. I wholeheartedly agree with this approach, bringing in OutDoor+; and X-Cross (Cross industry) partners. What I feel is slightly lacking from this approach is the more ‘lifestyle’ and fashion orientated brands. For me, this is where the real consumer cross-over is happening in the industry and I don’t feel that the OutDoor by ISPO strategic concept has yet addressed this cross-over.

OutDoor by ISPO are clear in their understanding that “the aim is to connect the industry and open it up to the new players”. I think this concept is absolutely crucial to the successful future of the OutDoor show. There are other key industries, such as lifestyle and fashion, which also have a bigger role to play here in the future.

“We must focus on younger generations”

I could not agree more. But as Caspar Coppetti, one of the founders of ON, asked, “Who is the youth?”. Does our industry as a whole have a genuine understanding of this target group, what age do we now define as ‘youth’? I believe not. Unfortunately, the event with all (10) speakers being middle-aged men or older, did very little to dispel this thought. For me to feel that this industry is connected to the diversity in the cities that they aim to inspire, it’s going to have to take a different and new approach.

A film by ISPO shown during the panel discussion of numerous ‘youths’ answering the question, “If we gave you €1000 today, what would you spend it on?”, absolutely goes in the right direction of trying to gain more of an understanding of who the ‘youth’ really are. The almost unanimous answer of said youths in the film was that ‘travel and experiences’ was positive for our industry, but not something that I think many brands fully understand the implications of yet. This was further highlighted by Christian Langer from GORE who asked the question during the round-table discussion: “What business are we in? Making, selling and marketing products? Or enabling experiences?”. In truth, the majority of industry is selling products when it should be selling experiences.

“We are all born explorers”

However, at the moment more of us are exploring the next best thing on Netflix, rather than the great outdoors. This was again picked up by Christian from Gore, who spoke of the need to become relevant for a younger audience. He mentioned that the industry needs to “provide an alternative to watching Netflix” and that imagery of explorers ice climbing is probably not the best way to go about this. Christian called on the industry to be more inclusive, open and inviting.

As an agency, we always try to question our clients’ briefs when necessary, and at Brandwave, we believe that pushing back on the identified target market and the intention of the brief is one way in which we will help to support this shift moving forwards. Our main job as an agency (and an industry) is to inspire people, and we want to do that on a wider level, rather than just our typical target market.

“There is only one consumer budget”

Replace ‘consumer’ with ‘brand’ and, as an agency, that is what we are working with. The brand budget has now become much more a B2B2C budget rather than split between B2B and B2C. In addition, with ever increasing B2C engagement opportunities, budgets are becoming progressively stretched.

The key question here, which of course ISPO will be less keen to address, is: Will brands and retailers look to make the journey to Munich twice in the year…with OutDoor being held just five months after ISPO in the same city? OutDoor by ISPO tried to premeditate this question by subtly stating that there will be “Benefit global packages for those attending both shows” available. Personally, I think this will be a big ask of brands for which “there is only one brand budget”.

“There is no such thing as the status quo”

Perhaps the most honest response of the day came from the stage and Casper Coppetti, one of the founders of ON, who stated quite blatantly that “I’m really bored by the outdoor industry! What I bought 5 years ago hasn’t really changed today”.

Casper encouraged brands at the event to “Be more bold” and I would second this stance. Be bolder with innovation, product and marketing. Be bolder and use this new OutDoor by ISPO platform as an opportunity for your brand to really think about who you are targeting, why and how? And be bolder in your choices to help your brand and the industry as a whole to remain relevant to different audiences moving forwards. Take note of what ON are doing; “At ON we don’t compromise, when we did compromise it didn’t work. When we were totally bold, it took off”. This position was backed up by Reiner from TQ, someone that is known for creating very successful outdoor brands, Reiner stated that “The Outdoor industry is not dreaming big enough, it’s not thinking forward enough”.

I hope that over the next year brands listen to both Casper and Reiner and start to dream bigger. I also hope that we, as an industry and as consumers, will see the fruits of this thinking at the show and in the city of Munich next year.

Watch this space…

Speak to us about how to engage with your target market and activate your brand. Email Vicky on [email protected].

Vicky Stickland