Content Marketing

Segmenting the outdoor industry participants

2 minute read

The Outdoor Industry Association [OIA] has just released its Consumer View Segmentation Report (free for members and $1,000 for non-members). The study aimed to quantify the outdoor industry marketplace and develop a robust understanding of the various types of recreational participants. By classifying these participants into segments, OIA has identified seven distinct groups with the highest potential within the outdoor industry.


I can’t sum up the 155 pages in a post here, but what’s really interesting is understanding how the general population defines the outdoors and what the outdoors means to them.

Let’s start with what outdoor participation looks like (because it’s not what you or I might consider “outdoor action”). It includes activities like BBQ’ing and driving with the windows open. In fact, the most common outdoor activities are leisure-based and don’t involve sweating or training for it. This is important to keep in mind as marketers, and is easy to forget when we’re putting our marketing messages and media plans together.  

Top brands used outdoors

When we look at the findings here, it’s heartbreaking to see Walmart’s prominence as a top response for a brand that is used for outdoor activities. But, again, this is a reality that’s often ignored because it’s not what we, as outdoor sport marketers, want our customers think.;

Stronger outdoor brand associations

The North Face leads the way with brand recognition among outdoor participants, and it’s interesting to see that three of the top ten brands are retailers (as opposed to manufacturers).

Online habits

When the study looked at online and social habits, they found that Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are used to share and connect, while Google and online retailers are used to compare and review. But, interestingly, YouTube is used for learning new activities, discovering inspiration and feeling/experiencing the outdoors. And, though it has a smaller following, people are also using Pinterest to discover new places and find inspiration.

Consumer segments

This is the bulk of the report and has some in-depth findings that will be especially interesting for those of you that don’t have customized personas or consumer research data.


What this chart represents is what we often feel as outdoor sport marketers: we’re preaching to the converted. We’re stealing market share from competitive brands for a small percentage of (hugely important) core consumers. But the opportunities obviously lie outside that core bubble and, instead, within the realm of the urbanites and those who aspire to be core.