E-commerce needs brick-and-mortar support to thrive today. Inventory overhang remains top of mind for brands and retailers. Creating a memorable experience for customers can help keep them coming back throughout their lifetime.
Those were a few of the themes attendees and speakers discussed at the Sea Otter Classic Summit this week at the Monterey Plaza Hotel and Spa in Monterey, California.
Nearly 200 outdoor industry professionals attended, including cycling, snowsports and outdoor apparel brands and manufacturers. A handful of retailers were also in attendance.
The event took place ahead of the Sea Otter Classic bicycling and outdoor sports festival and exposition on April 20-23 held at the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in Monterey.
Broader Outdoor Industry
Bekah Sands, senior marketing manager for Life Time Inc., which puts on the summit and the classic, said the Sea Otter Classic has become more than a biking event and includes more brands from the outdoor industry.
“Which led to an opportunity to make this event that leads into Sea Otter a broader event, talking to the whole outdoor industry, about the current issues and challenges that the outdoor industry is facing,” Sands said. “Let’s get everyone together and work through the challenges.”
Sands highlighted climate change, making the industry more inclusive, and how to get children away from screen time and outside as key issues concerning the industry.
Learning From Experience
Sessions ranged from panels analyzing consumer trends and retail technology to how to start sustainability initiatives and the continued expansion of outdoor recreation.
Bryce Phillips, founder and CEO of Seattle-based retailer evo, keynoted the summit in conversation with Scott Kerslake, operating partner at Stride Consumer Partners.
Phillips spoke at the conference about the beginnings of evo and where his passion for the outdoor space originated.
Following that, panelists explored the intersection of the cycling industry with business, tribes and land management reform. Other sessions focused on how businesses can spur positive change in the industry and how companies can operate as future business trends play out, including a post-pandemic marketplace.
Cassie Abel, founder and CEO of Wild Rye, a woman-owned outdoor apparel brand based in Sun Valley, Idaho, said coming to this event was a great opportunity to learn from more-experienced business owners.
“Above all else meeting these people who’ve been where I am or where I’m trying to go, that aren’t naturally in my everyday network,” she said. “I feel like I’ve been taken under the wings of some really amazing people just by being here.”
One key takeaway for her as an attendee and business owner was to focus on “purpose above all else.”
“It’s good to be reminded of that as important. We need to stand for something to stand out. That’s been echoing through these these hallways,” she said.
The talk by Phillips at the start of the summit about how he handled evo’s giveback programs was illuminating for Abel.
“We have a really big ‘women’s-first’ slant,” Abel said. “We’re also members of 1% for the Planet. We’re just trying to figure out how this strategy works, where we can support women and the planet, but not being pigeonholed into everything.”
She envisions Wild Rye as continuing to offset as much of its carbon footprint as possible, but not have too rigid of requirements so that the company can also donate to Planned Parenthood or local abortion funds “if we’re dealing with a major political slam on women’s rights.”
For Jason Hyde, brand manager for Ford Motor Company, the summit highlighted how brands can expand their reach in a meaningful, authentic way.
Ford Motor Co. sees a lot of overlap between the Sea Otter Classic attendee and what Ford does, according to Hyde.
“I just wanted to personally capture some more insight as we learn more about this industry,” he said.
“For me, it’s really insightful to see the way other companies are thinking about their customers.”
The Daily will have more stories in the coming days about individual sessions from the summit.
Bart Schaneman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.