Outdoor enthusiasts grow slow but steady

Jul 01, 2007 9:30 PM  By

Two-thirds of the American population participates in outdoor activities ranging from hunting and fishing to camping and hiking, accounting for $33 billion in sales, according to the Outdoor Industry Association. And with leaders such as Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops producing multiple titles targeting enthusiasts of these subcategories, it’s no wonder that the number of 12-month buyers from outdoors and recreation catalogers has grown steadily over the past two years.

According to New York-based media brokerage services firm ParadyszMatera, during the first quarter of 2007 the names of 10.6 million 12-month buyers within this category were available for rental or exchange. That’s up 7.2% from 9.9 million during the first quarter of 2006.

In fact, the outdoors and recreation universe is even larger if it included buyers from catalogers that do not release their lists — and so are not in the count — such as Patagonia and Gander Mountain. Also not included: large retailers that serve the market like Dick’s Sporting Goods, Sports Authority, Wal-Mart, and Target.

The second largest file in the category, fishing and boating outfitter Bass Pro Shops, added 107,000 names to its buyer file over the past year. By producing a number of specialty books selling goods from men’s and women’s apparel to saltwater fishing gear, the merchant’s 12-month buyer file increased 11%, bringing the list to 1.1 million names.

In terms of percentage growth, however, the biggest gainer was Performance Bicycle, which targets cycling enthusiasts with bike frames and components to clothing, helmets, and accessories. The cataloger boosted its 12-month buyer file by 22% last year to 295,000 names.

Overall incentive use among outdoors and recreation merchants also increased in the first quarter of 2007. Catalogers offerring at least one incentive, such as free shipping and handling or deferred payment, increased 25% up from a 16% increase in 2006.

Use of free shipping was up 7% in 2006 and 12% in the first quarter of 2007. The use of discounts increased from 9% in 2006 to 14% this year. The growth of incentives in early 2007 may be a seasonal anomaly, however, as several hunting and fishing merchants typically mail later in the year; also, purchase incentives are not traditionally used within the outdoors and recreation market.

House file universe: outdoors/recreation catalogs
1Q
2005
2Q
2005
3Q
2005
4Q
2005
1Q
2006
2Q
2006
3Q
2006
4Q
2006
1Q
2007
Total universe 9.8 9.8 9.4 9.7 9.9 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.6
Outdoors/recreation catalogs with the largest active-buyer files
Rank List name 1Q 2007 house file universe Average order
1 Cabela’s U.S. 3,313,330 $130
2 Recreational Equipment Inc. 1,285,243 $96
3 Bass Pro Shops Catalog Buyers 1,115,020 $100
4 Sportsman’s Guide 982,867 $90
5 Sierra Trading Post Masterfile 895,593 $99
Source: ParadyszMatera