In our September post, we shared results from our Spawn Ideas “The Women and Gear Study” survey that asked women to share what they wanted out of their outdoor gear. Women responded by sharing brands they thought were “getting it right,” including REI and SmartWool—because these brands demonstrated an understanding of why women do what they do outdoors and, thus, are able to authentically align their values with their consumers. As we continue to explore how consumer and brand values converge to influence purchasing decisions, let us consider the Millennial population.
Outdoor brands that seek to attract Millennial women need to be more age agnostic in 2016. Millennials, like all generations, cannot all be lumped together into one group of 18-35 year olds with a single set of values and beliefs. Consider the possibility that we are moving towards the “Death of the Millennial,” (see the Spawn Ideas series on the Death of the Millennial series) and a need to start focusing on multiple Millennial sub-segments, each with a distinct set of values and beliefs.
The largest Millennial sub-segment (57%) and the one that many Outdoor brands have at the top of their minds is Struggling Aspirationals (“The Four Groups of Millennials Marketers Value Most” Turn, 2015). The women in this group are said to lack brand loyalty, but research has shown that in reality they simply make their decisions with more caution. When looking for a new snowboard, tent or considering their next outdoor vacation, they conduct their research of products and services in three important stages: Discovery, Learning and Curiosity. This sub-segment researches in “micro-moments” on various devices, and with mobile domination these micro-moments can happen anytime, anywhere: in-store, at the airport, or even on the lift and experiencing gear-envy.
To reach consumers in these increasingly important micro-moments, outdoor brands need to “Be There, Be Quick, Be Useful.” That means having a responsive team that’s quick on its feet and well-versed in digital strategy to ensure you have a chance to be part of their moment.
In general, most consumers trust peer reviews and social shares more than advertisements, so it’s important for outdoor brands to be present on social review sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor and create the content consumers need. Google’s research says, “1 in 3 smartphone users has purchased from a company or brand other than the one they intended to because of information provided in the moment they needed.” That means creating content on your digital channels that helps consumers research. Product reviews, consumer insights, and case studies as well as highly optimized SEO can push one brand to succeed over the competition simply by being in the right place at the right time.
Long-term branding campaigns can pay off with Struggling Aspirational Millennial women. Millennial women, especially Struggling Aspirational women with a lower budget, pick and choose products and services to curate their ideal outdoor life. When they see products with a great feature set (feeds curiosity), good peer reviews and customer engagement (provides learning), and on top of that, the brand’s cause aligns with their own (allows discovery)—it’s your best recipe for success.
Bargain hunting resonates with Struggling Aspirational Millennials. Brands that offer high-end services at bargain basement prices are poised to succeed. Poshtels are an upscale hostel experience that has the low cost of a traditional hostel with social and shared features like community kitchens and cocktail hours but with a local price tag. Poshtel spaces can also be a partnership opportunity for products and destination brands looking to reach this sub-segment that won’t always be struggling. Places like “The Hostel” in Teton Village, WY offer budget accommodations to skiers wanting a resort experience without the daunting prices of most Jackson Hole chalets.
With budget and social consciousness in mind, Millennial women seek high quality products that serve a purpose and save time and money. They want brands that portray equality in advertising and treat it as a given. Millennial women also seek brands that offer flexibility for their constantly changing lifestyle, from the office to a walk in the park with friends and their top travel destinations. A recent holiday campaign by SmartWool encouraged their fans and customers to share their own SmartWool stories and spread the message about products they love; this campaign grew their mobile engagement by 1313%. SmartWool engaged their customers in micro-moments, encouraging them to share their experiences on the trail or skiing, and this mobile campaign paid off.
Trends like Athleisure, clothing that blurs the line between athletic and leisure-wear (SmartWool is a great example of this) are popular with Struggling Aspirational women who are typically looking for a bargain and have a deep appreciation for function and ease. Going from cubicle to cocktails or commuting to trail is beneficial for a group without the space or budget for a plethora of gear options.
As life makes more demands on Struggling Aspirational women, and they make more demands on themselves, they also make more demands on the outdoor brands that they choose when seeking a full feature set that aligns with their social consciousness and value-driven lifestyle. In this digital age, values and interests can change quickly, and women have many channels to turn to for peer reviews, recommendations and new suggestions that can influence purchasing decisions. Outdoor brands that authentically engage with customers, recognize their diversity, and innovate quickly and responsively will create brand loyalty in a group often touted as elusive.
About Spawn Ideas:
True fans of the outdoors know that “there’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad gear.” Nowhere is that more true than Alaska where Spawn Ideas is headquartered. Our dedication to an outdoor lifestyle includes regular forays into a wilderness that most agencies would call extreme… Our team, dominated by strong women, understands consumers’ need for function, comfort, style and agility. Visit us online at spawnak.com and check back here throughout the next few months for more on our series about Women & Outdoors.