"The Evolution of the OR Snow Show and the Needs of the Winter Outdoor Business" Town Hall
The business of winter outdoor is in a constant state of flux. What worked yesterday does not necessarily work for today.
Listen to Nick Sargent, President of SIA and Hervé Sedky, President and CEO of Emerald (parent company of Outdoor Retailer) for a future-looking conversation on the imminent evolution of the OR Snow Show. This conversation will address the hard questions regarding the current state of conducting B2B business, the value of industry gatherings and what supports the winter outdoor industry needs to be successful now and well into the future.
Unanswered Q&A responses from this Town Hall provided by OR and SIA:
What is the projected participation by vendors at the upcoming January 2022 show? What are the trends by different vendor types - ski hardgoods, apparel, footwear brands?
ANSWER FROM OR/Marisa Nicholson: We have a variety of brands and product categories across outdoor and winter sports already signed up with more coming in daily. The current list of exhibitors is available on outdoorretailer.com here: https://bit.ly/3EfXEEQ
I believe all of these evolutions and great but will take seasons to roll out. If the majority of ski hardgood brands are not committed to exhibiting at ORSS22 and most softgoods order deadlines have passed by the time of the show... how do we make this season’s show of value to exhibitors and buyers?
ANSWER FROM OR/Marisa Nicholson: The show has also always gone beyond just sell in and sell through. Outdoor Retailer is also about sourcing new products and fabrics, access to the media, and, probably most importantly given the circumstances we face today, convening the industry. Then there’s the availability of trend insight that provides knowledge to support business growth; networking and matchmaking pave the way for leads, collaborations, and new business development; and it's an amazing opportunity to stay connected and share ideas to help the industry grow. The value of the show for business extends beyond orders written, and that's the value we deliver.
Outdoor Retailer is the largest gathering of the outdoor and winter sports community in North America, creating an efficient place to connect with more people from all aspects of the industry. Everyone comes to discover what's new no matter what time of year, and they're looking to build relationships, find leads and be inspired. This January will be the first time the snowsports community has come together in two years, so many are ready to reignite relationships and make up for lost time and lost business. As everyone continues to battle the impacts of the pandemic and navigate supply chain challenges, this year truly provides a chance to make connections that lead to solutions.
As a first-time exhibitor, we are most interested to know what realistic level of traffic you are anticipating at this "post-COVID" event, particularly since ISPO is uncertain.
ANSWER FROM OR/Marisa Nicholson: We know everyone who wants to be at Snow Show in January won’t be able to attend. The pandemic, supply chain challenges, and travel restrictions continue to play into the ability for both brands and retailers to get there. So, Snow Show 2022 will be smaller than in years past, and we’re planning for most exhibitors to be located together on the Upper Level of the Colorado Convention Center. While registration recently opened, we’re seeing it grow every day as many are ready to return to in-person business – it’s the first chance for the winter outdoor community to get back together in two years. We hosted a successful show this past summer, and the smaller event provided an ability to have more meaningful conversations and for buyers to discover new brands – the ratio of retailers to brands was high with a density of 9.5 buyers per exhibiting brand. The attending store list is available now at outdoorretailer.com.
As passion and division are being discussed, it occurs to me a subset of the division is older members of the outdoor community (me) and the younger member needs. All of the passion sports have historically been driven by youth. In addition to retaining corporate brands and retailers needs, how are you looking to make shows more appealing to the next generation? Please be specific.
ANSWER FROM SIA/Nick Sargent: SIA will continue to work with OR and Emerald on creating offerings for all generations who attend this marketplace. SIA’s Industry + Intelligence contribution at OR Winter Market is one specific aspect we’ll resource to ensure we are appealing to a broader demographic of leaders and show attendees. We will be showcasing best practices through speakers and workshops mirroring our six pillars of our leadership within the winter outdoor market, three of those being climate, inclusion and participation.
What specifically can we convey to our snowboard specialty retailers to highlight the importance of attending the upcoming snow show? Thank you.
ANSWER FROM OR/Marisa Nicholson: The best buyers have told us they seek to discover items that spark joy and wonder for their consumers. The snowboard brand may get a customer in the door, but accessories can make them a regular. Surprising a customer with new brands and products is the key to success. Diversifying store offerings can set a store apart. Shopping lots of brands across multiple product categories in one place is the advantage of Outdoor Retailer.
Assuming the general case that there should be a centralized national physical show. Why as an industry should we be going through Emerald to make that happen?
ANSWER FROM SIA/Nick Sargent:: SIA’s membership collectively has indicated that timing is critical in terms of evolution of a national show or gathering. Change is needed in the shortest time frame possible – the industry is being pulled apart and investments and resources fractured with too many shows. The sooner the interest of the SIA membership drive the narrative, we believe the sooner that can be remedied.
Our strength in capitalizing on the opportunities coming through COVID emerges as a business community that prioritizes collaboration.
Emerald has the capability to organize a modernized marketplace – how Herve referred to a national show or gathering - at scale. They can provide the technology, data and experience to evolve this marketplace.
And as Hervé said in the conversation, he is willing to be personally held accountable to evolve the national show into a modernized marketplace. Knowing we have his word, SIA feels strongly that it makes the most sense to work with Emerald and OR to create the best platform for our industry moving forward.
Stay tuned for more information on future collaborative conversations on this topic by signing up for SIA’s First Tracks Newsletter or following SIA on LinkedIn or Nick Sargent on LinkedIn.
ANSWER FROM OR/Marisa Nicholson: A national show creates focus for the industry, forges a connection between brand and retailer at the highest levels, and opens channels of communication with media. The result is a vibrant community that captures the imagination of consumers. Outdoor Retailer’s job is to apply creativity, innovation, and knowledge to further those goals. We are professionals that make a show bigger than life and impactful for all that attend.
Rephrasing my earlier question: In deciding on venues, how important is it that local and state government policies and attitudes align with the outdoor industry's values? Is this consideration as important now as it was when O.R. was moved from Salt Lake City to Denver?
ANSWER FROM OR/Marisa Nicholson: A variety of factors play into decisions around show location. It must be a city with the convention center space, hotel room availability, and an infrastructure to host large-scale events. Easy access to the outdoors and the slopes are also incredibly important to our community, as well as local policies. Public lands access and preservation is the foundation of our industry. We're a community of advocates, working to nurture these outdoor spaces where we work and recreate. It's our livelihood. So, policies around public lands are going to come into play in decisions. The secret sauce of Outdoor Retailer is that it is about more than the business done there, and we have to balance the industry’s varied needs.
Historically, the Ski Show, when hosted in March, was a writing show, then moved to January to become a launch show, however supplier leads time, for certain segments, has grown, more so since COVID. Is the end of January the correcting timing to compel them to exhibit (2-3 bullet points).
ANSWER FROM OR/Marisa Nicholson: Timing across product categories continues to change, and softgoods, hardgoods, snowsports, and outdoor each traditionally fits into unique ordering cycles. Early in the pandemic, we saw brands start to adjust production timelines, consolidate product assortments, and reevaluate seasonality. Lately, supply chain dynamics have pushed manufacturers to take a deep look into factory location and production. All will continue to impact future product cycles. We’re conducting ongoing research, talking to manufacturers and buyers, and hosting listening sessions to better understand the changes taking place and how the show can continue to adapt. We’re in late January for 2022, but we’re ready to adjust the show timing to best meet the evolving needs of the industry.
For what it's worth--among the topics that my students chose for our class website at Emory, topics of diversity, inclusion, climate, sustainability were by far the most popular ones. (I let them choose whatever topics they want). Both skiers and non-skiers were deeply concerned about sustainability and the industry, a near obsession for them. I am sure that more will look hard at industry initiatives.
ANSWER FROM SIA/Nick Sargent: SIA’s six pillars of focus are advocacy, consumers, education, inclusion, insights and participation.
Climate and sustainability are covered in our advocacy pillar with our ClimateUnited platform to unite the winter outdoor industry around meaningful climate action This starts with winter outdoor businesses signing the Climate Pact to commit to a set of six achievable principles to meaningfully address climate change. Then for SIA members who need guidance and tools to reach those principles, SIA offers the ClimateLab to provide guidance and valuable resources for any company of any size to lead on climate change. To learn more and stay up-to-date on ClimateUnited, sign up for our Climate Newsletter here.
SIA is charting a path for inclusion in the winter outdoor industry. Building an inclusive winter industry is not just a moral imperative, it’s a business imperative. The future growth of our businesses and our industry depends on creating an inclusive winter community, where new-comers and the core alike feel welcome, acknowledged, and appreciated.
- SIA has convened an Inclusion Committee to provide feedback and guidance on our work to incorporate inclusivity into our organization and our community.
- SIA is providing inclusivity tools in our education platform and will continue this for the coming years, including Town Halls, Workshops, Monthly Inclusion Discussion Meet-ups, and a 24-week self-guided inclusion training program.
- SIA has provided “The Fresh Tracks Playbook” for its members – an inclusive leadership training guide for industry leaders on their journey to a more inclusive winter outdoor community.
- This fall SIA launched their Leadership for Transformation Program for its members – a workshop for 21st century leaders to create positive change in the winter outdoor industry, including topics of leadership, climate, inclusion, consumer and community building. Click here if you’d like to get on the list for a future session.
- SIA challenged the winter outdoor community to help get more kids on snow this year with a donation match to the Share Winter Foundation, which will fund over 45,000 you in programs across the country, fueling the next generation of more diverse winter sports participants and enthusiasts.
And more to come! Visit SIA’s inclusion page for more info.
As a hardgoods buyer, it looks like about 90% of the brands we carry have pulled out of the show for the 2022 season. It makes it very difficult to take the travel time to go to a national show where most of the Industry is no longer participating. What are your plans to get these vendors back?
ANSWER FROM OR/Marisa Nicholson: The national show is about the entire community coming together and uniting. Part of our role is to ensure this gathering can be done efficiently and effectively for our diverse group of customers. Our partnership agreement with Winter Sports Market for 2022 would have again brought the buying group together with the national event. They decided to do their own thing, so now we are focused on how we can drive even more value to those brands and retailers that must now vastly increase their expenses to attend both the buying event and national show. Currently, we’re focusing on driving ROI and guarantee of business. We’re investing in scholarships for buyers like you to offset added costs of flying to two places instead of one with WSM moving out of Denver. We’re introducing a matchmaking service with concierge service to match buyers and brands, and to ensure more face-to-face meetings. We are also investing in new booth rentals to provide cross-over brands more economical ways to present their line or just bring product. There are other new programs to create return on experience through thought leadership, trend reporting, industry networking, and high caliber education sessions with SIA and OIA to ensure unique value for anyone that attends Snow Show. Lastly, we are listening and asking our customers to work with us on evolving. Location, dates, pricing, values, and how we show up together are at the heart of the conversation.
What is the role for (or how do we engage/attract) a DTC-only brand as part of the industry at the ’show of the future’? At the same time, what is the role (and how do we retain/attract) of the independent specialty retailer at that same show?
ANSWER FROM SIA/Nick Sargent: Traditional trade shows were built to support wholesale. Trade shows historically have enabled suppliers to portray a ‘theater’ for their brand surrounding the new product being introduced. Today, as we all know the entire process should prioritizing the consumer, not the channel. The consumer decision and purchase journey will continue to evolve. Success will come from recognizing and prioritizing a consumer-centric ecosystem and that is what a modern national business show/gathering must be prioritizing. Whether D2C or B2B, the consumer is still the North Star for all brands and retailers. A modern business gathering will support this evolution, and that’s why it’s so important that SIA’s membership has its voice heard, and why collaboration is so important right now.
Can you talk about the "fracturing" you are referring to?
ANSWER FROM SIA/Nick Sargent: We are referring to the current evolution of how suppliers, retailers and tradeshows coming out of COVID are looking at how modern business is being managed.
As an industry and community, we need to move more toward a national marketplace where we can gather to do a lot more together than we can do apart. “Fracturing” comes when suppliers, retailers and industry groups break away from the community and the national marketplace and host their own events.
Does "market place" mean and opportunity to expand to consumers to help provide insights back to the brands?
ANSWER FROM OR/Marisa Nicholson: Outdoor Retailer provides opportunities for both brands and retailers to gain insight to grow their business. Brands can connect with retailers to better understand what’s selling, meet with suppliers to see the latest innovations, and get a complete view of the competitive landscape and emerging brands and products. We also partner with trend forecasters and market research organizations to make the latest consumer data and insights available to exhibitors and attendees. Organizations leading education and providing resources at Snow Show include the NPD Group, WGSN, RANGE, SIA, OIA and others. It’s education and information you’ll only find at Outdoor Retailer.