All About Outdoor Consumers

Backpacker Recreation Outdoors

The Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) conducted an outdoor consumer segmentation study in 2014 to meet the following objectives:

  • Understand how the general U.S. population defines ‘outdoor’ and how they engage in outdoor activities
  • Quantify the outdoor consumer market in terms of size and spend
  • Identify distinct segments of outdoor consumers in the marketplace

OIA recently released the full report to their members and an executive summary to the public.  The study found that 60 percent of the 198 million adults between the ages of 18-65 say they are outdoor consumers.  Among them:

  • About half are female, almost half are 25-44 years old, over one third are minorities
  • over 30 percent are interested in trying new outdoor activities and are making a considerable effort to spend more time outdoors.
  • 43 percent of outdoor consumers have kids at home, and they believe they are raising the next generation of outdoor consumers.
  • nearly all outdoor consumers participate in non-traditional outdoor activities, including relaxing outside, barbecuing/picnicking, walking for enjoyment, and walking for a purpose.

From most active to least, the OIA classified outdoor consumers this way (does not total to 100% due to rounding errors):

  • Achiever10% – participate in a variety activities including team sports, running, camping, climbing, and mountain biking. Nothing stands in the way of getting outdoors for members of this segment.
  • Outdoor Native12% – motivated by enjoyment and the experience they are less concerned about competition than The Achiever and enjoy more leisurely family-oriented activities including playing outside, running, cycling, day hiking, and camping. They are sometimes constrained by the amount of free time available to them.
  • Urban Athlete20% – gets outside not because they love the outdoors but because the activities they enjoy require them to go outside. They participate in activities such as basketball, skateboarding, outdoor yoga, mountain biking, races, and drills/HIIT/CrossFit. They were raised on team sports and, as a result, getting outside is much more about competition, socialization, and intensity than it is about connecting with nature. Available time is a significant barrier to increasing their engagement with outdoor activities.
  • Aspirational Core14% – aspires to be outdoorsy and wants adventure. They tend to focus on one or two activities like trail running, camping, mountain biking, and races. They want to get further from home for these activities, but distance between where they live and where they want to recreate is a barrier.
  • Athleisurists20% – aren’t especially active in the outdoors, but enjoy relaxing outside, walking for fun, and gardening. Unlike other segments, The Athleisurist does not aspire to be more outdoorsy.
  • Sideliner12% – likes getting outside for the sunshine and fresh air and typically enjoys relaxing outside, barbecuing, and going to the park. These people were once more active outdoors but are now faced with physical limitations such as injuries or weight issues.
  • Complacent14% -prefers the comforts of the indoors, and members of this segment are limited in their ability to get outdoors by health and fitness. When they go outside, they prefer to stick to low-intensity activities such as relaxing outside, walking for a purpose, and attending community activities.

The report also provides spending information on each category and highlights opportunities for those in the outdoor industry to better serve them. It will be useful to the outdoor industry, including travel bureaus and any other group that serves this segment of the public. If you are a consumer of outdoor goods, it will give you some good insight about how the industry is likely to target your needs in the future.

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