The Other Side of Outside

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

The outdoor industry has long been served by many well-loved (and deservedly so) legacy brands. We all know who they are. Many have been started or nurtured by legendary pioneers. They have pushed gear technology further than we might have ever imagined when it comes to comfort, protection, weight, overall performance – and price.

There’s just one problem. The world of outdoor recreation they represent as a way of connecting with potential consumers is a world inhabited by the most extreme endeavors, environments and hardcore participants. Himalayan peaks, vertical cracks or portaledges - it’s much more common to find this type of imagery in outdoor gear marketing than it is to find imagery of families just chilling in the outdoors.

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Yet, the slice of the outdoor participation market represented by the thrill-seekers and adrenaline junkies is the smaller one, and the segment represented by casual enthusiasts is the larger segment and growing. Why?

First: changing demographics and lifestyles. Millenials (roughly under age 32), if they are gainfully employed post-college, are working long hours if not more than one job. They’re time-starved, as are parents dealing with the whirlwind day-to-day of keeping up with their own careers and all their kids’ activities. Even the burgeoning baby-boomer demographic (empty nesters) who do have more time on their hands, no longer have the inclination to push themselves to the limit.

Second is the increase in cross-sport participation. Let’s face it, as a nation we have short attention spans, and that applies to the interest we develop in specific outdoor sports. More people are “dabbling” in multiple activities rather than going all in on one. Consequently, they never quite reach the level of becoming “hardcore” in terms of mindset or skill set (or time invested) in any one sport.

So why don’t more outdoor gear brands embrace and celebrate the casual outdoor participant the way we do at Northside? Perhaps they fear irrelevance to the most serious and accomplished athletes if they do so. Or, they believe that casual participants aspire to be or are inspired by those that use the outdoors as a proving ground of some sort.

Northside has a very different view. We believe the outdoors does not discriminate. It doesn’t care how fast your customers are, how tall, or how fit they might be. When a family manages to find a few hours to sneak off into the woods in between soccer games and dance recitals (a herculean effort in and of itself), the last thing they are thinking about is pushing limits or conquering anything. So while expensive, extreme and complex gear may serve an important constituency of your store, it doesn’t necessarily best serve the vast majority of outdoor enthusiasts that could be buying stuff from you.

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That’s where Northside comes in. We are the affordable performance outdoor footwear brand for nature seekers that aren’t spending enough time outdoors or aren’t hardcore enough to justify buying highly technical and expensive gear. Make no mistake – affordable in no way translates into cheap or ineffective. The fit, comfort and protection features in our footwear rival styles from other brands that cost way more. We just choose not to cloak our performance in confusing trademarked component names and marketing speak. When a style of ours is waterproof (and many are), we call it simply that. When we have midsole cushioning (and we do) to enhance support and comfort, we say exactly that. High-traction outsoles, comfortable and easy to use lacing or strapping systems - the feature sets are robust and the price points surprisingly modest (while still allowing you full margins).

Here’s just one example: our Men’s Apex Mid hiker. It has a padded collar and tongue; sealed seams and a waterproof membrane; a breathable and washable insole; a lightweight compression molded EVA midsole; a rubber traction outsole; all this with an MSRP of $70. This same high feature set-to-price ratio applies to all our men’s, women’s and kids’ footwear. Outfitting the entire family in performance outdoor footwear has never been easier.

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Please visit us at Outdoor Retailer or at northsideusa.com to see what the “other side of outside” is all about.

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