Sarina Scharpf

Editor's Talk: These are the big topics in the industry in 2023

Honest and unsparing: what moves the outdoor industry

Less mass of products, more sustainability and community thinking: These are the big topics of the outdoor industry. 2023 could be the year in which the industry not only recognizes the major challenges, but also implements them. Outdoor media professionals agree on that. We spoke to the industry's insiders - honestly, relentlessly and with motivation.

Supply chain bottlenecks continue to plague the outdoor industry.
The industry must stick together
"People are hungry to experience outdoors." Astrid Schlüchter, SAZ

Whether trail running, skiing or cycling: People love to be outdoors. Outdoor sports are booming - not least because of the pandemic and its aftermath. And: People love to spend money on their hobby. The outdoor industry is benefiting from both components. Hiking, in particular, is inspiring more and more people and has long since ceased to be a sport for mountaineers only. Hiking has arrived in the mainstream - to stay.

The good news is: The boom in the outdoor industry continues. The bad news is: the industry also faces numerous challenges that the industry must overcome. Product glut, inventory pressure and supply shortages are the big issues in 2023 that companies will need to keep a special eye on. Whether at the Sports and Media Day or at networking meetings: The industry is discussing and looking for solutions. We spoke with outdoor media professionals and experts. People who have been close to the industry for years, understand the industry and discover trends early.

"For the industry, of course, there are an insane number of challenges. We're seeing war out there, we're seeing prices go up, we're seeing supply shortages. I think the outdoor industry can overcome that if it sticks together, and it does." Astrid Schlüchter, SAZ

1. long love instead of short affair

The motto "Long love instead of short affair" was not only the focus of the Consumer Insights Report, but applies to the entire industry; there are enough products on the market. Now it's time to grow green, via services.

"I think we agree that our whole economic system is based on growth. But if growth simply leads to a collapse - of nature, of the environment - then it can't work that way. So we have to look that growth is no longer achieved through a product, but through services." Susanne Kern, Outdoor Compass

Repair services and recycling are hot topics in the service sector. According to experts, the industry cannot avoid finally thinking through the major issue of the "circular economy" to the end and living it. Products must be repaired, recycled, upcycled and returned to the cycle, which requires close cooperation between industry and retail.

According to our experts, reprocessing goods is becoming just as important as making them recyclable in the first place. In this context, the production of single-variety products is a top priority. Whether polyester, merino wool, cotton or biobased synthetics: pure products still have to be made available to the masses, for which the infrastructure is not yet designed according to our media professionals.

According to outdoor journalists, the industry must therefore start at the preliminary stages and support them, especially in the production of biobased plastics.

Der Patagonia Repair Truck auf der ISPO Munich 2022
"Do I always have to bring new products into a cycle that is not a cycle?" Susanne Kern, Outdoor Compass

2. full warehouses with matching collections

Another current challenge, according to our media professionals, is overstocked warehouses. The difficulties of recent months and years have led to major buying and order holdbacks, leaving retailers struggling with full warehouses. No reason to completely abandon offers! Now it is necessary to react to the Händler:innen and to develop suitable collections. According to outdoor experts, these should be prepared in such a way that they still fit in with the stocks in the retail trade and complement them so that there is a harmonious picture in the store. In this way, innovation and old stock can be sold hand in hand.

"One of the biggest challenges might be the number of products that are already on the market. We had a bad winter, so there is still a lot of existing equipment. So we'll have to wait and see how that develops." Frank Wacker, Outdoor Magazine

3. supply chain bottlenecks and transparency

Nothing new, right? Supply chain bottlenecks have been on the minds of the outdoor industry for quite some time and will continue to be a very big issue. Especially with new EU legislation, such as the Supply Chain Sourcing Obligations Act (LkSG), which has been in effect since January 1, 2023, companies will continue to face challenges until companies "groove in." According to our media professionals, these two topics will become particularly relevant: transparency regarding production partners and suppliers, and agreement on standards, regulations, software solutions and much more that work for the entire industry.

"This is going to keep the whole industry on its toes, and not just in 2023, but certainly for the next decade." Susanne Kern, Outdoor Compass

The industry faces a new beginning

What doesn't kill you, makes you stronger - right? Because with the right approach, companies can use these challenges to their advantage if they react early enough. All outdoor media professionals agree on that. The most important thing here is rethinking. A change in thinking that has already taken place among consumers and that they are now demanding from brands. According to our experts, it will be important for the industry to realize that there is a limit to the constant growth. It is much more a matter of perceiving one's own impact on society and nature and drawing growth opportunities from this. Examples? Eva Karlsson with Houdini or Yvon Chouinards with Patagonia live sustainability and green growth. Patagonia's Repair Truck is just one of many examples that should serve as inspiration for others.

"The opportunities here are really also to dare a new beginning and to say we're moving away from the constraints and trying to find a new business model, which just works capitalistically on the one hand, but on the other hand also with the things that our society and our planet needs." Susanne Kern, Outdoor Compass
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Sarina Scharpf
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