True Value -- When it comes to new packs, tents and bags for spring '09, value will rule

Trends: Tents / Bags / Packs -- With the realities of an uncertain economy, spiking gas prices and climate change sinking into the consciousness of the American consumer, three major pack, tent and sleeping bag trends continue to play out.
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With the realities of an uncertain economy, spiking gas prices and climate change sinking into the consciousness of the American consumer, three major pack, tent and sleeping bag trends continue to play out.

The first—fast, light, high-performing gear—has been around for so long that it can hardly be called a trend anymore. The second—products that make use of eco or “green” materials—has hit the industry with such fervor over the past two years that it’s almost become a mandatory component to any brand story. And the third—value pricing—has brooded in the shadows for years but is now asserting itself as the most relevant of the three as retailers and consumers wring their hands over the sagging economy. But none of these trends are what they appear to be on the surface.

Take value. The common misperception is that the term means cheap. But that’s just not true, experts point out. As macroeconomic conditions, including rising fuel and food prices, a sinking dollar and Chinese infl ation, drive prices up, consumers will be more discerning when assessing what they get for their money.

“Value does not mean the lowest price point,” said Hank Bernbaum, president of High Sierra, which will be introducing new lines of daypacks at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market. “It can be something that is very expensive if, in fact, it’s the whole package, the best blend of utility, functionality, durability, design, aesthetics. Value means you give the consumer more than competitors at the same price point.”

In fact, “value” can create higher margins and provide a safety net for retailers. “We have gotten more and more dealer presence because we can contribute not only in volume and profi tability, but also because by the end of the year we can make up for a lot of mistakes,” Bernbaum added. “If somebody buys some very elite merchandise that doesn’t give them the same turn or margins, then they can bring in our product, and based on margins, they can cure those other mistakes in their overall merchandising mix.”...

Click here to download the magazine Trends PDF from the SNEWS Summer Outdoor magazine: "Treading Water" -- Insiders weigh in on the state of the paddlesports market.

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