SHIFT to Explore Diversity in Outdoor Media at OR Trade Show

MILLENNIALS OUTSIDE: Diversifying the “Look” of Outdoor Media

A Panel Discussion Featuring:

Chris Lindland, CEO, Betabrand
Laura Swapp, Director, Public Affairs & Next-Gen Marketing, REI
Darren Josey, North American Marketing Manager, Polartec
Georgina Miranda, Founder, Altitude Seven
Toni Carey, Brand Director, Outdoor Industries Women’s Coalition

Moderators: Christian Beckwith, Director, SHIFT, and Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, Co-Founder, The Avarna Group

When: Thursday, August 4, 11 a.m.–12 p.m.

Where: Salons A-C, Downtown Marriott City Creek, Salt Lake City

City Kids - Michael Ross 2

A participant in City Kids Wilderness Project enjoying the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. At the OR trade show in August, SHIFT will explore diversity in the outdoor industry media. Photo courtesy City Kids Wilderness Project

On Thursday, August 4, 2016, at the Summer Outdoor Retailer Trade Show in Salt Lake City, SHIFT and The Avarna Group will present a panel discussion that explores the ways progressive outdoor industry companies are diversifying the representation of their users in their catalogues, social media and other marketing platforms.

Moderated by Christian Beckwith, Director of SHIFT, in conjunction with Aparna Rajagopal-Durbin, co-founder of The Avarna Group, the panel discussion will occur from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM at the Downtown Marriott City Creek in Salons A-C. It is free and open to the public.

The panel will feature progressive marketing directors and millennial CEOs, and explore how authentic representations of millennials in the outdoors creates value for brands’ bottom lines while simultaneously developing a new constituency of stewards for the protection of our natural resources.

The discussion is part of SHIFT’s continued effort to develop a resilient constituency of responsible recreationists who are committed to protecting the places in which we play.

“The archetype of the rugged Northern European individualist journeying into the wild, experiencing a transcendent adventure, and returning to civilization impassioned, invigorated and transformed is the origin myth of the outdoor industry,” says Beckwith. “It’s also the Achilles heel of its future growth.”

“America is increasingly a minority majority country. The Northern European ideal is no longer the reality for a population that lives predominantly in urban areas. Why do brands continue to promote it when the customers of tomorrow look so different from the Caucasian models in their catalogues?”

SHIFT leverages outdoor recreation for conservation gains. Active engagement with the outdoors has produced some of the country’s strongest and most inspiring conservation leaders. Today, with the constituencies of conservation aging, outdoor recreation offers a remarkable opportunity to reinvigorate our economy, public health and the protection of our public lands—but only if the next generation of stewards is able to engage with them in the first place.

A constituency of stewards committed to the wellbeing of our public lands and waters begins with getting them outside. Young, urban people of color who don’t see themselves in the media representations of the industry are less incentivized to climb/paddle/ski/hike/hunt/fish/camp. If they don’t go outside, they’ll never continue outdoor recreation’s conservation legacy.

A catalogue mentality continues to influence the outdoor industry. The single image that must work as hard as possible to sell as much as possible requires A-List photographers to capture it, who in turn provide stunning photos of beautiful models in extraordinary settings. These models are predominantly Caucasian—an accurate reflection of the industry’s customer base.

Problematically, the cultural landscape is increasingly diverse. In order to be relevant to millennials, the representation of users by outdoor companies must mirror the customer base they seek to cultivate. Among many of the established brands of the outdoor industry today, this is not happening.

Companies founded and run by millennials approach branding and marketing with a web mentality, not a catalogue mentality. The result—crowdsourced, user-generated images that develop customer engagement via dynamic, socially relevant media—offers authenticity, emotional engagement and cultural relevancy—keys to the customer bases of tomorrow.

Successful outdoor industry start-ups will succeed in part because they capture those new customers. This panel discussion will explore how both start-up and established companies are doing so—and what the rest of the industry can learn from those examples.


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