Taking to the great outdoors

It appears more consumers are embracing outdoor activity. Or at least they’re dressing the part.

In the fourth quarter of 2007, there were 10.6 million names in the outdoors and recreation segment, according to New York-based media brokerage firm ParadyszMatera. That’s up 5.6%, or 559,000 names, from the previous year, and up 15.2% (1.44 million names) since the fourth quarter of 2005.

The segment is rising at about the same rate as some of the outdoor activities. A 2006 U.S. Fish and Wildlife service survey showed that 87.5 million people participated in wildlife-related recreation, up 6% from 2001.

The same report found that while the number of hunters and anglers declined somewhat, there was an increase in the number of “wildlife-watchers” who visit parks and wetlands.

So there’s a reason outdoors and recreation merchants like Cabela’s and Bass Pro Shops are becoming part of the mainstream.

The category is led by Cabela’s, which has a fourth-quarter universe of 3.4 million names with an average sale of $130. Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI), with 1.4 million names, and Bass Pro Shops (1.2 million), Sportsman’s Guide (1 million) and Sierra Trading Post (943,000), which primarily market via print catalogs and online, round outs the top five.

House files on the rise include Kevin’s Fine Outdoor Gear and Apparel and Legendary Whitetails. Kevin’s list size rose 116% to 28,000 names in the fourth quarter, thanks to aggressive prospecting, and has an average sale of $120. Whitetails’ house file is up 57.1%, also because of increased prospecting, to 79,500. It has an average order of $75.

In 2007, 19% of outdoors and recreation promotions offered at least one incentive, up from 17% in both 2005 and 2006. The use of free shipping and discounts was 9%, while just 2% offered deferred payment.

The increase in free shipping was due in part to new promotions from mailers such as J&M Tackle, which offered free shipping with online orders of $200 or more, Northern Bass Supply, with $225+ orders, and Sierra Trading Post’s Adventure Edge, with affinity card orders.

House file universe: outdoors & recreation catalogs

4Q
2005
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2006
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2006
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2006
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2006
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2007
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2007
Total universe 9.2 9.6 9.8 9.9 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.6
Outdoors & recreation catalogs with the largest active-buyer files
Rank List name 4Q 2007 house file universe Average order
1 Cabela’s U.S. 3,421,320 $130
2 Recreational Equipment Inc. 1,385,792 $96
3 Bass Pro Shops Catalog Buyers 1,155,317 $100
4 Sportsman’s Guide 1,040,515 $90
5 Sierra Trading Post Masterfile 942,502 $99

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