More Than ‘White Dudes Up In the Mountains’ — This Is How Outdoor Brands Plan to Promote Diversity

Following the first-ever Outdoor Retailer Winter Market showcase in Denver in late last month, FN asked leaders at five of today’s top brands the same question: How can the outdoor industry reach a more diverse customer base? Here’s how they responded.

Golden Harper
Founder, Altra

“The obvious thing is to make things more approachable. A lot of that falls on cities and communities to develop trail systems and activities that are close to home. Outdoor brands could work with communities to develop trail systems, climbing opportunities, mountain biking opportunities and things like that. And almost all outdoor marketing is white dudes up in the mountains. Changing the marketing to be more diverse lets people see themselves in that position.”

A hiker on a trail. Rex Shutterstock

Brandy McCarty
Chief marketing officer, Eastman Group

“It’s about breaking out of the old mold of who the outdoor customer is and realizing everybody is a potential customer. There are ‘outdoor individuals’ of all ages, all genders — and they could be in a city urban area. We need to build product for them. We also have to market to them and show why our products work for everybody, and not the select few we’ve marketed to in the past.”

Paul Habicht
VP, Pajar USA

“We need to advertise a lot more about the social aspect of the outdoors and that these outdoor places are year-round destinations. It’s about creating destinations within the U.S. because we’re not going away as much overseas — Americans are staying here. New England is on fire, and so is the West. It’s about creating a wonderful, happening social atmosphere outdoors, developing bigger destinations and creating a lifestyle.”

A group of hikers. Rex Shutterstock

Simon Bonham
President, Hi-Tec North America

“Social media is a great opportunity to reach a vaster audience. And more brands are offering fantastic product at great prices, which makes it accessible to more people. It’s important as well that the park councils keep things looking good and in shape so our kids and families can take walks on trails that are clean, tidy and safe. We have a joint responsibility to help clean up trails.”

Peter Sachs
GM, Lowa

“The answer is in how you get kids of all colors, persuasions and backgrounds outside doing outdoor activities. How do you get kids for two weeks in the summer to go to camp and do outdoor activities? How do you get kids in a city like New York to ride bikes or go to rock climbing gyms? It’s working with Boys & Girls Clubs and YMCAs and local community organizations, and getting campership programs going.”

Kids on a rock climbing wall. Rex Shutterstock

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