Warmer Weather, Interest in Outdoors Spurs Growth in Camping Equipment Sales

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The fall and winter months are more commonly associated with warm coats than camping tents, but with 2015 being the second warmest year on record in the U.S. (behind 2012), annual outerwear sales were flat and camping-related equipment helped to grow the outdoor industry in 2015, according to global information company The NPD Group.

Outerwear performance is dependent on the weather. A record warm 2012 and one of the coldest winters in 2013-2014 drove annual 2013 outerwear sales up 9 percent, but in 2015 sales suffered as a result of a record warm fourth quarter. Though outerwear sales peak in November and December, the category experienced a 6 percent decline during the fourth quarter of 2015. Camping, which usually generates the highest sales during the warmer months of May and June, saw strong growth continue through the fourth quarter, with a 13 percent increase in sales during this time. This was a result of the warmer weather combined with heightened interest in the activity.

Did you realize 15% of Americans enjoy camping? AudienceSCAN found they do, and 23% of Campers are aged 25 to 34.

“Despite the atypical weather, there is still a shift taking place when it comes to consumer preference for outerwear, which is altering the category landscape. Driven by the Millennials, consumers are choosing light weight puffy jackets and multiple layers that incorporate new technologies as opposed to traditional, heavy winter coats. Consumers are doing more with less; rather than purchasing specific products for every season or activity, they are buying adaptable and multipurpose items,” said Matt Powell, vice president and sports industry analyst, The NPD Group.

Appeal to the light-weight needs of millennials with ads targeting Campers in sponsored search results (like on Google, Yahoo or Bing). AudienceSCAN found Campers are 25% more likely than average consumers to take action based on these types of ads.

“In the same vain, following the new Millennial pattern, the camping industry is doing a solid job at promoting the unconventional; driven and embraced by consumers, the industry has responded to the less-traditional, modernized, and urbanized side of camping. Brands and retailers in this space are waking up to the fact that they need to market products differently,” added Powell.

Looking at both annual and fourth quarter 2015 sales results, camping categories driving the growth included camp hammocks, backpacking tents, tent poles, tarps, and other tent accessories, which all grew double-digits, or up to 36 percent.

Feature the above items in newspaper (print, online, mobile or tablet) ads for a winning strategy. AudienceSCAN reported 54% of Campers took action after seeing print ads in the past year.

“Consumers are propelling new trends within the outdoor industry, and the seasonal lines which brands and retailers have drawn are becoming more of a stereotype as consumers evolve their definition of ‘the outdoors.’ While camping may be a two-week backpacking trip, it may also be a regular activity in a backyard or apartment rooftop. This urban spin is opening more doors for the industry,” said Powell. “As equipment products continue to cross style, function, and fashion, the industry will continue to gain appeal from more walks of consumers, and keep its current following coming back in both fresh and familiar ways.”

AudienceSCAN data is available as part of a subscription to AdMall for Agencies, or with the SalesFuel API. Media companies can access AudienceSCAN data through the AudienceSCAN Reports in AdMall.

Courtney Huckabay
Courtney is the Editor for SalesFuel Today. She analyzes secondary customer research and our primary AudienceSCAN research. Courtney is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University.