This year’s OutDoor Show in Friedrichshafen, Germany, established an concurrent mini-trade show and lecture series titled, “The OutDoor Woman—Profiling a Growing Market.” Focusing on the current market and ways to expand it, show organizers scheduled lectures and forums discussing products, buying patterns, market potential, current trends, and other suggestions for marketing outdoor products to women not only in Germany but all over Europe.
The reason for the choice was clear: Women make more than two of three purchases in the European Union and 85 percent of the purchases in the United States, according to a Lindsay Hayes of Timberland at a kick-off press conference. Most companies have jumped onto the women-specific bandwagon and the outdoor women of today can find product specifically tailored to them, she said. Yet there is a huge growth potential for women’s clothing and footwear and, as buying patterns indicate that women tend to buy products they like, but don’t necessarily need, there is certainly a huge market potential here, she emphasized.
Many of the lectures and forums stressed eliminating the line between fashion and function, as well as aggressively marketing product at a retail level.
SNEWS® attended several of the clinics and lectures – and wandered among exhibits at the mini-trade show outside its doors -- and filtered out what we felt were some of the more important findings for retailers and manufacturers to attract the female customer:
- Studies indicate that fit, style, and quality are most important to women where men tend to look primarily at function and quality. Offering sizes at both ends of the size spectrum as well as product that is functional AND fashionable is key.
- Shopping tends to be a social activity for many women and the atmosphere of a shop plays a role. Because women are much more likely to buy something on impulse, presentation is often much more important for women than for men.
- Retailers should have, if possible, a separate floor or wing for women-specific products and the women’s department should be easily identifiable.
- One study stated that between the ages of 14 and 49, women will spend up to 109 hours in the dressing room. Message: Retailers should make sure dressing rooms are well-lit, clean and emptied of clothes on a regular basis.
Expanding this market also means realizing that this isn’t just about the hardcore women, such as those who ultra-run, climb Everest, or do expedition kayaking. It’s also about the everyday active woman who wants to take part in the outdoors, perhaps on a simple level and perhaps for a fitness reason. It’s about the single, working mom who wants to take her kids out and experience the outdoors with them. It’s about the retired woman who finally has the time to take all of those trips she’s been planning. These women, panelists said, are the center of the market.
SNEWS® View: Kudos to the OutDoor show for approaching this topic from a marketing perspective. Unfortunately, a couple of the presentations weren't meaty or advanced enough to offer a lot of insight, but the thought was there. We predict that future panels on the topic will be even better as Europe takes on the women's market with gusto.