By Jake Magyar
It’s been over one year since the start of the global pandemic that left us with two places to pass time safely—in our homes, or socially distanced in the great outdoors. The outdoors became a natural choice for many. Last June, many outdoor products saw an increase in sales from the previous year. Equipment like kayaks and tents became the new toilet paper as people stocked up on equipment and apparel for activities like hiking, biking, boating, running and general exploring. What happened next? People loved these activities. And many of these new outdoor enthusiasts will stick with them even in a post-pandemic world.
The challenge is many outdoor brands aren’t speaking or relating to these new adventure-seekers. Here are three ways outdoor brands can visually appeal to these new, entry-level explorers while still appealing to the weekend warriors.
Choose settings that appeal to everyone
Inspiration has always been key in advertising. That’s why many of the top outdoor brands shoot their products in epic, outdoor settings. But not all newbies are making a break for the Rockies. They’re finding adventures in their own backyards, neighborhoods or within an easier drive. So, you need a balance. Build aspiration with those inspirational product shots. Show your audience where they could go someday if they stick with their new outdoor hobby. After all, 82% of people who’ve recently discovered the outdoors plan to spend more time outside in the future. If they choose to stick with their new hobby, make sure it’s your product they see getting them from the backyard to the backcountry.
All that said, visualizing how your product works out-the-door—that is, without needing to travel—is important too. Show people how they can ride a road bike in their neighborhood, pitch a tent in a local state park or kayak down an urban river. Accessibility is important when it comes to showing where your product can be used. It’s also important to show who can use it. With this new group of people finding joy in outdoor activities, make sure you represent them in your advertising. People of all ages, backgrounds and physical abilities should be inspired to choose and use your product. That real kind of representation—seen in our “Real Guys, Real Grooming” Campaign for Wahl—can lead to increased purchase intent, brand preference and ultimately, sales.
Show people a face they can trust
Starting any new hobby can be daunting, especially if that hobby requires some unfamiliar equipment. A friendly face can help build trust and loyalty in your brand, and result in a customer for life. Utilizing local guides and experts can introduce new outdoor adventurers not only to the gear, but also the love for the activity. Build regional programs or events around specific gear and incorporate the expertise of local outfitters, influencers or sponsored professionals. Helpful experts can also be used to create content like walkthrough videos explaining different product functions. To take it even further, you could also sponsor and engage with local groups to build brand advocates within. Think Facebook Groups, local running or biking groups, etc.
The right kind of influencer could also be that friendly face people need. Rather than partner with travel or athletic influencers, work with lifestyle influencers who are in the same boat as your audience. Let them show their followers their experience using your product for the first time. This is another way to let your audience see themselves in the brand. They’ll also likely trust their opinion since 63% of people trust an influencer’s recommendation more than a brand’s.
Use design to explain things simply
Not every new explorer will have a guide in front of them. Some will need to navigate this new world on their own. Using design to explain complex product components in a simple way can help them better understand what they’re looking to purchase. Product breakdowns that utilize callouts, icons and pared-down language (not jargon) on product tags, packaging or point-of-sale pieces can be helpful for newbies and seasoned veterans alike. Tiering your products in a beginner, intermediate and advanced system can also help people find the right choice for them. These tactics can also be expanded in the digital space. Like we did for our client Yamaha Outboards and their XTO Offshore outboard, website animations can give page visitors a thorough, interactive breakdown of complex products.
As audiences continue to change post-pandemic, smart visual choices can go a long way in securing their loyalty, trust and enthusiasm for your products. Whether you use small and large-scale product backdrops, friendly faces or simply designed assets, positioning your brand as accessible and approachable will help lead the way for these new explorers to become lifetime customers.
Hoffman York is a full-service advertising and marketing communications agency with experience helping clients succeed. HY provides award-winning creative solutions, paid media, content creation, public relations, digital strategies and development, as well as research and analytics. To learn more about how HY can help your brand succeed, contact us at [email protected]. Or, click here to see a gallery of our work.
About the Author:
As a Senior Art Director at Hoffman York, Jake Magyar works on an array of projects from TV and photoshoot production to brand and web design for clients like Montana Tourism, Yamaha and the Wisconsin Lottery. Jake’s career began as an Interactive Art Director at Lindsay, Stone & Briggs developing interactive concepts and designing web experiences for brands such as SC Johnson and Saris Cycling. Soon after, he began working on more traditional media gaining him national recognition among the industries very best, including the Clio’s and work that led to his agency receiving Agency of the Year by Advertising Age.