Think Citizens Not Consumers

Ponderings from Outdoor Retailer 2019 – Is Generation Z the new hippie movement or are we all journeying back to a ‘don’t tread on me’ future? Outdoor Retailer 2019 left me pondering commerce, conscience, and authenticity.

After a stellar opening session of introspection and inspiration from guest speaker Afhdel Aziz, the author of ‘Good is the New Cool’ to the powerful education session at the Ranger Station covering from past to future of social media with Jeanine Pesce and Lisa Doughtery from the Range. I left OR with a sense that things are more connected, the community is growing, and we in the outdoor industry are moving into a refreshing age of citizen influence.

The early morning OIA Breakfast crowd was summoned by Executive Director Amy Roberts with “Together We Are A Force” and “We All Thrive Outside”. Aziz quickly followed up and challenged us early birds, those up to get the first worm, or in this case, an aluminum refillable coffee mug, to stop thinking in terms of consumers and start thinking in terms of designing experiences with citizens and a community who cares deeply about their environment, their parks, and their play.

Dougherty and Pesce dared us to consider how to incorporate product click sales on Pinterest pages (coming soon) and place our product concepts in TikTok video creations. Near the end, they both had us all contemplating the future of augmented reality where memes replace influencers (Colonel Sanders) and GPS biking point-to-points scavenger hunts to explore with new products while hitting us with the social backlash from Generation Z on mainstream social media. Now there is no time to curate, it should be authentic, a bit DIY, with user-generated content, and, well, why go to college when one can save the environment with TikTok videos being their Northstar.

Bottom line – digital ad spending at 88 Billion just overtook television ad spending and everyone who is cool is looking for the experience, not a product.