U.S. Climbing Industry Reaches New Heights: Sales Rise from Inside

BY Courtney Huckabay
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The urbanized and less-​traditional camping phenomenon has made its way into the U.S. climbing market. Beyond the mountains, increasing popularity of indoor climbing has sparked new interest in the activity, helping the industry to grow by 13 percent in the 12 months ending January 2017, according to global information company The NPD Group. The industry has grown its sales by $52.9 million since 2014, reaching a four-​year high of $175.5 million.

Climbing, a traditionally outdoor experience, is exploding indoors via climbing clubs and gyms around the country, and is even popping up in sporting goods stores and on university campuses. Once reserved for capable enthusiasts seeking a ‘man versus nature’ challenge, climbing has become an outlet for social activity and a new form of working out,” said Matt Powell, vice president and sports industry analyst, The NPD Group. “With climbing now officially part of the 2020 Olympic Games, I expect that this trend will continue gaining in popularity and participation.”

Climbing retailers and gyms with walls can promote their best offerings through social media. The latest AudienceSCAN study found 43.6% of Rock Climbers took action after seeing ads on social networks in the past month.

Climbing gear, the largest category making up 81 percent of total dollar sales, grew by 13 percent, with climbing shoes (+28 percent), quickdraws (+26 percent), and cams (+24 percent) among the growth drivers. Sales of climbing ropes and helmets grew by 8 percent and 6 percent, respectively.

SEM should prove fruitful to climbing marketers too. The AudienceSCAN survey reported 68% of Rock Climbers took action based on sponsored search results (like on Google, Yahoo or Bing) in the past year.

While the core outdoor enthusiast will always exist, a new consumer base of families and friends seeking unique ways to have fun are exploring outdoor markets like climbing. As the number of participants continues to increase and grow more diverse, retailers and manufacturers will need to develop and market product differently than ever before,” said Powell.

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.