Women in the Wild

Wellness has transformed into a multi-dimensional cultural moment in the pandemic era, and as a result, the outdoors has effectively re-emerged as a tried-and-true form of self-care. That’s why outdoor footwear company Merrell is on a mission to remind shoppers that nature is the ultimate healer – but with a decidedly female focus.

Outdoor industry statistics signal significant growth in the segment: The outdoor recreation economy accounted for $374 billion of the nation’s GDP for 2020, according to the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis. And 7.1 million more Americans participated in outdoor recreation in 2020 than in the year prior, as reported by the Outdoor Industry Association.

Albeit, in a separate report by McKinsey & Co., researchers estimated the global wellness market in 2021 at more than $1.5 billion, with an annual growth rate of 5 to 10 percent – and Merrell wants to re-emphasize that nature, in all its self-care splendor, is free.

More, More, More

For Merrell, the outdoor industry’s resurgence serves as inspiration for the brand to redefine self-care and motivate women to seek Mother Nature to alleviate stress and enhance wellbeing. Lindsey Lindemulder, Brand Marketing Director at Merrell, told FN that its approach to supporting female consumers in the outdoor segment is wholly unique.

“Women are a largely overlooked segment for outdoor brands, even though the OIA’s New Participation Report has found that since the pandemic began, new outdoor participants are more likely to be female. As the interest in self-care has risen – 2020 was an all-time high according to Google Trends – it only seems like it’s become more complicated, gimmicky, and expensive,” she noted.

Merrell’s Bravada 2 Thermo Demi WP

“This year, we’re on a mission to change that and reset for women that the best, most long-lasting, most trusted, most available form of self-care is just getting outside and moving your body in nature. We’ll do this through a global campaign we’re calling More Less – inviting women to give up the more, more, more of the self-care industry and get outside.”

Historically, Merrell has already driven female participation in the outdoor segment with intention. Lindemulder told FN, “At Merrell, we’re uniquely positioned here as we launched our first women’s specific fit in hike product 25 years ago and have expanded this over the years to other categories as well. Many people don’t know that women’s feet are shaped differently than men’s and we’re continuing to cater to her through the existing and new silhouettes in our women’s franchises.”

Lindemulder added that Merrell’s spring and fall footwear trends are focused on hiking and proffer a “get outside” mentality.

“We’re amplifying our women’s specific Antora (trail runner) and Siren (hiker) franchises and introducing the Bravada 2 sneaker in SS22 and launching a winter version of this core hiking shoe in FW22. Through these collections, you’ll continue to see our merge of lifestyle and performance that offers our female consumer a versatile option to wear throughout her day.”

Connecting Common Threads

There’s also a social and lifestyle dimension to the brand. Merrell is empowering women through footwear via its Merrell Women Collective, a platform that connects women who live and breathe the outdoor lifestyle. “The Merrell Women’s Collective is comprised of women from around the country, each with their own unique background, perspective, and lifestyle,” Lindemulder said.

“The common thread connecting them is their passion for the trail and the outdoors,” Lindemulder said. “Their experiences and viewpoints inspire us in many ways and bring us real insights on our women’s offerings to guide our approach to fit, styling, and differentiation.”

And there’s more to come. Lindemulder said this year, the brand will “continue to maintain existing and garner new consumers through our performance roots and sport leisure offerings.”

“You’ll see more from us on our sustainability efforts – and our focus on women will continue beyond 2022,” she said.

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