The Outdoor Retailer show, held in Salt Lake City is the largest sports show in the US, and presents the latest in active apparel that will soon be available to consumers. "Outdoor Retailer is where we see what the trends are, see what's going to be happening next year," said Jeremy Oyen, Program Manager of Outdoor Programs at REI.
One of the important trends evident at ORSM'15, held August 5-8, was focused on the athleisure market. Driven by the Millennial (also known as Generation Y) and Gen Z generations, the athleisure trend provides the most excitement. Everyone is becoming more self-identified and the typical stereotypes of the past are dissolving.
"The athleisure trend is on fire! The culture of sport is evolving, as fashion blends with athletics," explains Matt Powell, VP of industry analysis for sports and leisure trends at NPD Group, a company that tracks consumer preferences. "Sports athletes have become fashion icons. â€˜Social fitness' remains a key driver for the athleisure market, as people become much more conscious of what they wear when they work out."
According to Powell, the growth in the sports industry and athleissure wear is coming mainly from the Millennial and Gen Z generations. One-third of retail spending in the past 5 years has come from the Millennials. Social media and fitness go hand-in-hand for both Millennials and Gen Z.
There are 83.1 million Millennials in the U.S., compared to 75.4 million baby boomers. The Millennial group now represents 25% of the U.S. population. They are interested in knowing what's new, what's next, and they love to talk and to share. Having lived and experienced the Great Recession, Millennials have learned to be careful with their money, and consequently have become value-savvy shoppers.
"Generation Gen-Z is Millennials on steroids," stated Powell. "They are more diverse, more educated, supremely confident, prematurely mature, very visual, tech-reliant, and have never known the world without a smart phone! This group maintains high sport-participation rates in all sports. They are also extremely visual, and would rather see a U-Tube video than to read an instruction manual!"
Regarding sustainability, Millennials are interested in the environment, but reject the label, "environmentalists", when it is applied to them. However, they are more likely to pay more for responsibly made products. Gen Zers, on the other hand are VERY concerned about man's impact on the planet. They are the "natural sustainability generation" with sustainability ingrained in their hearts and minds, and are determined to make a difference!
Therefore, the Millennials and Gen-Z generations expect retailers to show them what their values are as a company. Retailers need to engage Millennials and Gen-Z customers, and understand that selling to them is much more about the shopping experience, and what the retailer can present to them. Since these two generations are also "deal-conscious" consumers, they love to shop and expect to achieve happiness through their shopping experiences.