The team at nParallel has been attending Outdoor Retailer both Summer and Winter for decades. The show features over 1,400 brands exhibiting across every floor of the Colorado Convention Center, in Denver — all showcasing the latest outdoor gear and trends. If you are anywhere close to being interested in the outdoors, this IS candyland. Over the show’s three days, the schedule is full of education sessions, industry events, happy hours, and many opportunities to network, learn, and if you’re an exhibitor sell your product to buyers in the masses.
We noticed three themes at OR that made brand experiences stand out: new industry technology, sustainability, and captivating engagements.
New Industry Technology
Products, brands, and trends of this year’s show seem to be focused around new and innovative technologies, rather than quirky / crazy product designs. Brands that showed the adaption of technology with construction and materials into the final apparel piece caught buyer’s attention. This was done through weaving in logos, thermal materials, and seamless construction to get buyers excited about more than the look of the product but the innovation behind them. This helped to communicate the “why” behind the “what” which is important in differentiating your brand experience.
Sustainability is a fad that will never go away, thank goodness! We loved seeing Patagonia showcase their pre-paid package service to send in old t-shirts. They use it with other recycle materials and produce a new shirt with 52% of old t-shirts and the rest with recycled materials from fishing nets, water bottles etc. They started this program one year ago and have collected up to 100,000 t-shirts so far. Great job, Patagonia showcasing real results and global impact!
Another company does something similar by collecting old wine corks turning into soles on shoes. What we love about sustainability is that any industry can implement a sustainability program and have it drive impact and customer affinity.
“Keenfest” was across the street with cartwheel rides, live music, sustainability exhibits, custom screen-printed t-shirts, and food trucks that serve beyond fresh and fantastic street food was enough to keep you sustained and entertained between dashing around trying to make it to every exhibit. You could have sold tickets to the public to get in this place! Now that’s an excellent brand experience. Keenfest thought through the customer journey to draw people in, and make them want to stay engaged in the experience.
We met influencers on-site who were engaging with the public and meeting with their raving fans. Influencer marketing can be spendy, but it’s such a great way to build a following and communicate brand messages in an authentic way.
Tin Cup had a giveaway of a tin cup shot glass and a sample of whiskey. They crafted an awesome venue with the option to get a unique photo with a vintage 1800’s camera and developed it on-site for a takeaway sepia tone picture on your mug. Great job, Tin Cup!
Flexfit Hats nailed it with an ice cream parlor that was a visual pleasure and also great for the taste buds with real ice cream samples. Their set-up looked like a retro ice cream shop married an oasis of natural beauty. They did an excellent job drawing people in with intrigue and beauty.
Our team made new friends on-site and we’re already excited to book our tickets and begin designing exhibits for the next OR.
Are you wanting to make a bigger splash at OR? Reach out to me (firstname.lastname@example.org), I’d love to chat with you!