2008 Annual SNEWS® Specialty Outdoor Retail Survey: Top selling outdoor brands for camping and backpacking

Welcome to Part 2 of the 2008 SNEWS® Outdoor Retailer Survey summary, where outdoor specialty retailers get to speak their minds and offer industry observations and commentary on what is great, good, not so good and desperately needs improvement in the industry. As we announced last week in Part 1, the full survey results, complete with expanded and detailed analysis of each category’s results, will be presented in sections to our All Access SNEWS subscribers over the next three weeks, with this week focusing on best-selling outdoor brands in the camping and backpacking categories.
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Welcome to Part 2 of the 2008 SNEWS® Outdoor Retailer Survey summary, where outdoor specialty retailers get to speak their minds and offer industry observations and commentary on what is great, good, not so good and desperately needs improvement in the industry. As we announced last week in Part 1, the full survey results, complete with expanded and detailed analysis of each category’s results, will be presented in sections to our All Access SNEWS subscribers over the next three weeks, with this week focusing on best-selling outdoor brands in the camping and backpacking categories. If you missed last week, click here to read Part 1 of our annual survey, the "2008 Annual SNEWS® Specialty Outdoor Retail Survey: The best and worst."

Although SNEWS sends the survey to hundreds of outdoor specialty retailers all over the country, this survey is by no means scientific in its approach. We do believe the results are quite representative of the outdoor specialty retail market as a whole, and those surveyed are consistent from year-to-year, so comparing answers from past surveys presents a useful picture of trends, market conditions and retailer moods—one of the most useful features of this survey. It is very important to remember as you read the results for top-selling brands below that retailers are not predisposed to selecting a brand. They are each presented with a question and a blank. It is also important to note that just because a brand is not listed in this survey that it is not selling well. It just means that it was not a top seller in the stores which responded – either by perception or reality.

OK, enough blather. On with the results:


What are the top-selling accessory brands this year?

Cascade Designs – 8%

Sea to Summit – 6%

Adventure 16 – 3%

SIGG – 3%

CamelBak (bottles) – 3%

Peregrine – 3%

Kleen Kanteen – 2.5%

The North Face – 2%

Liberty Mountain – 1.5%

*Tied companies are listed randomly and all are considered statistically equal in terms of ranking. All answers have been rounded up to the nearest 0.5 percent, and since we don’t name every single company name or category with a percent, the percentages may not total 100 percent.

What are the top-selling pack brands this year?

Osprey – 37.5%

CamelBak – 3%

Gregory – 3%

Mountainsmith – 3%

Kelty – 2%

Deuter – 2%

Arc’Teryx – 1.5%

The North Face 1.5%

*Tied companies are listed randomly and all are considered statistically equal in terms of ranking. All answers have been rounded up to the nearest 0.5 percent, and since we don’t name every single company name or category with a percent, the percentages may not total 100 percent.

Osprey places a lock on this category, jumping up almost 10 percentage points over last year. The North Face, which made a strong showing in the survey last year, virtually disappeared from voter recognition this year for some reason. Otherwise, all remains pretty status quo.

What are the top-selling tent brands this year?

MSR – 14%

The North Face – 12%

Mountain Hardwear – 9%

Sierra Designs – 6.5%

Eureka – 5.5%

Kelty – 5.5%

Black Diamond – 3%

Big Agnes – 3%

Marmot – 2%

*Tied companies are listed randomly and all are considered statistically equal in terms of ranking. All answers have been rounded up to the nearest 0.5 percent, and since we don’t name every single company name or category with a percent, the percentages may not total 100 percent.

MSR remains atop the mountain in the tent category. Diversification in the category continues, with numerous brands being listed as top sellers as in the year before – this is a very competitive category to be sure. Mountain Hardwear garners a few more percentage points than last year, but for the most part, the category remains status quo.

What are the top-selling sleeping bag brands this year?

Mountain Hardwear -- 17%

The North Face -- 16%

Marmot – 6%

Western Mountaineering – 4%

Lafuma – 3%

Big Agnes – 3%

Montbell – 1.5%

*Tied companies are listed randomly and all are considered statistically equal in terms of ranking. All answers have been rounded up to the nearest 0.5 percent, and since we don’t name every single company name or category with a percent, the percentages may not total 100 percent.

Not much change from the 2007 survey, with Mountain Hardwear, The North Face and Marmot all occupying the top three spots. Big Agnes and Lafuma remain strong favorites of specialty retailers too.

What are the top-selling men's technical outerwear brands this year?

The North Face – 42%

Mountain Hardwear – 10.5%

Arc’Teryx – 8%

Marmot – 8%

Patagonia – 8%

Rab – 3%

What are the top-selling women's technical outerwear brands this year?

The North Face – 52.5%

Marmot – 13%

Mountain Hardwear – 10.5%

Patagonia – 8%

Isis – 2%

*Tied companies are listed randomly and all are considered statistically equal in terms of ranking. All answers have been rounded up to the nearest 0.5 percent, and since we don’t name every single company name or category with a percent, the percentages may not total 100 percent.

From these numbers, it is even clearer that name brands rule in a market where retailers are reducing SKUs and focusing on brands that will deliver product that consumer will buy with higher certainty. The North Face increases its stranglehold on retailer votes as the top brand in both women’s and men’s outerweaer with Arc’Teryx curiously disappearing other a few vote mentions in the women’s category. Cloudveil also all but vanished in the men’s category. One notable exception to retailers sticking with known brands is newcomer Rab, from the United Kingdom.

What are the top-selling men's sportswear brands this year

The North Face – 37.5%

Patagonia – 18.5%

Columbia – 9%

Kavu – 6.5%

ExOfficio – 3%

Life is Good – 3%

Mountain Hardwear – 3%

What are the top-selling women's sportswear brands this year?

Patagonia – 18%

The North Face – 18%

Prana – 15%

Horny Toad – 9%

ExOfficio – 6%

Kavu – 5%

Lole – 6%

Mountain Hardwear – 6%

Royal Robbins – 6%

*Tied companies are listed randomly and all are considered statistically equal in terms of ranking. All answers have been rounded up to the nearest 0.5 percent, and since we don’t name every single company name or category with a percent, the percentages may not total 100 percent.

In the men’s category, The North Face garnered more love from retailers, but Patagonia and Columbia remained very strong as they did in the year prior. What happened to Royal Robbins in the men’s category is anyone’s guess. Kavu leaps onto the list in both men’s and women’s, indicating the company had some compelling products to sell. Intriguing to us is the consistency of top brands, and the consistency from survey-to-survey of a smaller brand exiting – in this case, Isis on the women’s side and Mountain Khakis on the men’s – only to be replaced by yet another niche brand such as Lole in women’s. If there is one thing for certain in sportswear, if your fit, colors and styles are not spot on, they your sales will fall spot off.

What are the top-selling men's footwear brands this year?

Merrell – 27%

Keen – 16%

Chaco – 10.5%

Salomon – 8%

Vasque – 8%

Asolo – 5%

Montrail – 2.5%

Teva – 2.5%

Vibram – 2.5%

La Sportiva – 2.5%

Kayland – 2.5%

Lowa – 2.5%

What are the top-selling women's footwear brands this year?

Merrell – 24%

Keen – 13.5%

Chaco – 11%

Vasque – 8%

Ugg – 5.5%

Patagonia – 5.5%

Dansko – 5.5%

Reef – 5%

Asolo – 3%

Salomon – 2%

Vibram – 2%

Montrail – 2%

*Tied companies are listed randomly and all are considered statistically equal in terms of ranking. All answers have been rounded up to the nearest 0.5 percent, and since we don’t name every single company name or category with a percent, the percentages may not total 100 percent.

Newcomer to the men’s and women’s list a year ago is now gone just as quickly this round – Mion -- a victim of the economy and Timberland’s decision to jettison the brand. But, as one dies, another is resurrected: Montrail, now in the hands of Mountain Hardwear, is seeing a second life. Crocs has all but disappeared from the list – not one vote this year at all in men’s and only a couple in women’s. Everything else remains pretty much the same with an interesting side note: Now that Merrell, at No. 1, owns Chaco, at No. 3, one can only imagine the smiles at corporate headquarters in Wolverine.

What are the top-selling sock brands this year?

Smartwool – 80.5%

Darn Tough – 8%

Fox River – 6%

Wigwam – 2.5%

Stunning! There has never been such clear domination of a category in any previous SNEWS survey. Smartwool has just put its stamp on the sock category with aplomb. It jumped 10 percent from 2006 to 2007, but grabbed a whopping 30 percentage points more in 2008. Bridgedale, Teko and Dahlgren all tumbled off the list barely garnering votes at all. Darn Tough increased its number of retail best-selling votes and Fox River continues to show it’s not going anywhere, even in the face of a Smartwool offensive.

What are the top-selling underwear brands this year?

Patagonia – 39%

Icebreaker – 14%

Smartwool – 6%

Duofold – 5.5%

Terramar – 5.5%

ExOfficio – 3%

Mountain Hardwear – 2.5%

Kenyon – 2%

Hot Chillys – 2%

Under Armour – 2%

Layers – 2%

*Tied companies are listed randomly and all are considered statistically equal in terms of ranking. All answers have been rounded up to the nearest 0.5 percent, and since we don’t name every single company name or category with a percent, the percentages may not total 100 percent.

The category remains increasingly diversified with a clear indication this year more retailers are trying out different brands. Despite the competition, Patagonia continues to hold onto a commanding market-share position as top dog in the best-selling brand wars, although Icebreaker is continuing to strengthen its position.

Our next look at the SNEWS Outdoor Retail Survey results for 2008, we'll bring detailed analysis in the overall climbing, paddlesports and ski market, including reports on best-selling brands for those categories. Look for that report on March 2.

The SNEWS Outdoor Retailer Survey may not be reproduced for redistribution of any kind, in whole or part, including for promotional or sales purposes of any kind, to consumers or the trade, without the written consent of SNEWS. Contact SNEWS at survey@snewsnet.com for reprint details and restrictions.

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