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Having just returned from the Outdoor Industry Association Rendezvous last week, my head is swimming with trend tidbits gleaned from three days of seminars and guest speakers.

It was also a week full of shock and awe including the passing of Steve Jobs, the uprising showcased by Occupy Wall Street and the President again pleading for someone to pass his jobs bill.

While our assembled group discussed issues pertinent to the outdoor industry, Apple devotees around the world left apples and candles at Apples stores and garbage piled up where Occupy Wall Street demonstrators left their mark.

I always come back energized from this meeting because this is the best place on earth to share and exchange ideas about keeping the outdoor industry healthy. This time, however, the world changed around us in a big way. Make no mistake, I am still heartened by the absolute passion at the heart of this industry, but am dazed as well by the challenges we face just to get by.

I learned a lot from this gathering from friends and experts alike. Here are few of those learnings:

Trending Today with Tweens and Teens:

– Their spending is changing from conspicuous consumption to conspicuous reduction.

– We need to help them feel good about their purchases

– They are concerned about a brand’s commitment to charity or sustainability

– 1/3 of teenagers have smart phones

– Facebook continues to be the social network of choice because it answers where is everybody, what are they doing and how can I connect with people like me?

– Male and female teens’ favorite commercial is the Geico lizard

– Some define an outdoors person as someone that does BMX, paraglides and wears tight jumpsuits with Red Bull patches

– One reason young people don’t go outdoors is because there is a sense that they are out there and not connected. Huh?

– Other reasons include lack of time, no outdoors activities at school and being scared

– The best reason for not going outdoors? Because they can do outdoor activities on the Sony PlayStation so there is no need to do the real thing

– #1 teen distraction in class is daydreaming

– One interviewee said, “You need to let people know why they would want to be outdoors rather than in gyms or lazing around the house.”

– Their definition of friends: “if you have written on my wall.”

– The Global Snack Exchange – a barter system for exchanging local snacks is the next form of globalism

Best New App: “Last Night Never Happened” — erasing all bad Facebook posts from the effects of posting while drinking

Top Issue for Teens: Bullying — the NFL and NHL are taking this seriously launching anti-bullying campaigns with athletes

And these tidbits…

Commenting on innovation, from Tony Post – President of Vibram (known for the original minimalist shoe: “Keep it fresh because consumers today like to discover things, don’t be discouraged, and stick to your gut.”

Consumer experience drives sales (great examples are the Geek Squad, Disneyland and Starbucks)

Trade shows are the b-to-b equivalent of going to Disneyland

Great Apps:

Words Lens

Google Goggles

Post It Pop Notes

Companies today need to change marketing experience to do the job of marketing. Here’s how:

Stage marketing experiences

Hit the sweet spot

Get real

Mass customize your offerings

Go beyond the experience

From respected branding strategist Graeme Newell:

Build from the customer’s ego up

Not from the product up

Last thought? The world is changing drastically and we will never see the likes of things as in 2008. Everything, no matter what you are involved in, revolves around a cycle of 24-7 and you need to be completely engaged to succeed.

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