Given increasing consumer interest in wellness and experiences, activewear brands are positioned to tap into a broader base of potential shoppers by blurring the lines between competitive sport and recreation. One set of brands naturally inclined to harness this momentum? Outdoor brands.
Search volume for nonbranded outdoor and technical keywords like “hiking boots,” “camping,” and “winter coat” increased 74% since last year, according to Gartner L2’s Digital IQ Index: Activewear. While apparel and footwear categories continue to exhibit interest, year-over-year nonbranded search volume in those areas only increased 22% and 17%, respectively. Genius brand adidas took note of the footwear category’s search growth and launched the Terrex Free Hiker shoe in February, the brand’s first footwear product designed specifically for hiking.
Leading outdoor brands are matching this consumer interest with outsized digital performance. Half of this year’s ten biggest movers in terms of increased digital performance were outdoor brands. For example, Carhartt improved its site experience by including in-store inventory integration and by launching the Carhartt Groundbreakers loyalty program, KEEN and REEF ensured sophisticated mobile-optimized sites, and workwear brand Duluth Trading Co. vastly improved its site and e-commerce capabilities. The North Face maintains one of the most robust desktop sites in the Index, and the brand extends this prowess to mobile by offering a geolocation-enabled store locator on product pages.
This year’s outdoor-oriented winners succeed in facilitating discovery through search and then driving to content-rich brand sites. They also prioritize omnichannel functionality and engage their communities through social media and events. With consumer interest in the outdoor category expected to continue to grow, activewear brands can look to these fast risers for inspiration.