Breaking Through the Hype

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This story was written by Northside as advertising material.
SNEWS editors had no involvement in its creation.

Today’s outdoor innovation is constant and brands that don’t consistently and continually push their design technology to the limit are quickly left behind. Right? This is what traditional outdoor marketing seems to want us to believe. But taking a closer look reveals some surprising (or maybe not so surprising) truths.

At Northside, we’re using what we’ve learned about today’s consumer to pursue a different approach to communication, and to getting families and the casual outdoor participant outdoors. By breaking down the barriers that we believe traditional outdoor marketing has thrown up between the outdoors and many of the people who want to enjoy it, we embrace and encourage the otherside of outside. We celebrate the outdoors enthusiast who may not have the time or desire to push the limits of outdoor adventure, and who may not want or even need the expensive, high-tech gear that can be intimidating to the less extreme adventurer.

Here are some things we’ve learned about our consumers, and why we’ve chosen to talk to them in an honest, jargon-free language about the gear they need for their outdoor adventure, whatever it may be.

More than ever, consumers know what they need.
Consumers today are educated, smart and resourceful. With the internet at our fingertips most every waking moment of the day (and night), information about products, product features, and performance is accessible to everyone, all of the time. Online forums offer in-depth discussions on product features, from ground-breaking technology to price and comfort, and consumers participate willingly because peer input—from detailed descriptions to performance reviews—give them the power to make informed decisions about the products and technology they’re seeking.

While expensive, extreme and complex gear may serve an important constituency of many outdoor retailers, the vast majority of outdoor enthusiasts are learning that while price point may reflect performance to some extent, the added value of expensive, high-tech components may not be what they need, or even what they want. Therefore, the consumer is no longer lured by fancy marketing-speak, and is learning to seek the technology they do need, at a price point that fits their budget. They’re learning that high-quality gear with the fit, comfort and protection features that they need (and without the ones they don’t) are available at a price they can afford.

Marketing hype isn’t all that it’s hyped up to be.
For decades, big brands have relied on marketing jargon to sell product features, and we’re finding that today’s consumer is over it. Trademarks and techy (sometimes meaningless) feature names are called out on hang tags and packaging, and even the products themselves. But armed with the same information that allows them to choose what gear they need, today’s educated consumer is learning that confusing trademarked component names and marketing speak does not, necessarily, a better product make. Consumers have become jargon-weary and, maybe more important, jargon-leery. Polyhyperclymablocker? Does it keep me warm or keep me cool? Does it protect me from the rain or protect me from over-heating? Today’s consumer is no longer lured by meaningless trademarks. Today’s consumer wants honest, hype-free information.

At Northside, we’ve chosen not to cloak our performance in tech-driven names and trademarks that we feel add to jargon-fatigue (and aren’t fooling our consumers in the least). For example, when a style of ours is waterproof, we call it simply that: waterproof. Our product features are named and described in words our consumers can pronounce and understand. Cutting out the hype cuts out the step requiring consumers to educate themselves on what each proprietary term actually means. We’re instead trying to get straight to the facts, providing consumers with the information they need to make decisions quickly and comfortably.

We hope to encourage an examination of the way we as an industry are talking to consumers about features and supposed differentiation and consider a more honest approach.

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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2012 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 2-5. It’s an opportunity for you to catch up on stories you might have missed in O.R.D., and for us to update and ...read more