As the nice weather comes back and we head into the beginning of Summer, many of us are heading outdoors to enjoy our various passions. Be it hiking, biking, watersports or even just lying in the sun and catching that vitamin C; the summer is a great time for getting in that outdoor time that so many love! The outdoor segment of the consumer goods industry is one that is near and dear to my heart, personally, as I am an avid hiker, biker, and paddler. If the sun is shining (and in Northwest Oregon, we only get a select few months of it) then I am out enjoying it every chance I get.

The same can be said for many others across the nation and even internationally! We all look to the retail stores in our area before we head out to ensure we are outfitted with the latest and greatest that the market has to offer. This area, historically, has been one that led in innovation, and it has never failed to offer that excitement factor when anyone has gone to look at the new sports swag. As a matter of fact, up until COVID hit in early 2020, about 5% of all products found in this category were considered “new to the market”. How exciting is that?!

Now, strapping on my consumer shoes and stepping into their point of view, that is not what I am seeing this year, just a few short years later! The retail shelves are offering the same old products and upon deeper inspection, they are at a steep mark-up! In fact, prices were so crazy on my last shopping trip that I couldn’t help but hop on Google and do some research. What I found was that in 2022 the outdoor industry represented $27.9 billion in sales and that number was up 5% from 2021. The interesting thing about that is that the actual total number of units sold was down by 1. What that means to me is that there was actually an average item price increase of 6%.

When COVID hit the world, it not only slowed innovation across the consumer market, but it also ground supply chains to a grinding and staggering halt. Consumers were finding that there were fewer and fewer products on the shelves, and what was there was certainly not new. As with every other part of the consumer goods, the outdoor segment was not immune to these problems, and it really showed in the summer buying season of 2022. According to Circana, the percentage of products that were on the market in 2022 which were considered “new” was down to 1.5%. That is definitely a steep decline from the historical figures we have seen in years past.

So what do all of these numbers mean for you and me? Well… it means that companies really should be taking advantage of this market and getting some fresh products into the eager and open hands of their consumers. Especially now that people are finally ready to head out and explore more than they have in the last few years. It also means that the market is prime for some fresh blood. Everyone knows that it is WAY harder to change age-old habits and processes than it is to start fresh and do things the best way possible from the get-go. This environment offers a fresh chance for new entrepreneurs to enter the market and be able to compete against some of the major manufacturers.

Maybe I’m speaking from my personal experience, but I can definitely see that customers are eager for new products and reasonable prices! If you have been considering launching something that fits those two key traits, maybe you should stop considering, make history, and start doing!