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Friedrichshafen â€“ Past February, the European Outdoor Group (EOG) decided to focus the European Outdoor Trade Show OutDoor in Friedrichshafen/ Germany from July 23-26, 2006, on the Outdoor Woman. Mark Held, Secretary General of the European Outdoor Group, says it was time that outdoor business recognize the opportunities this issue brings. According to Held, the EOG intention of this initiative is not to fight for women’s rights or to tell the industry off for not doing the job properly, but rather to point out that an increased focus on women is good for the consumers and good for business.
Question: EOG has chosen women as a focus issue for the European Outdoor Trade Show OutDoor 2006. What is the idea behind this decision?
Mark Held (Secretary General European Outdoor Group, EOG): The last time I looked at the participation figures for outdoor activities in Norway I was intrigued to find that it was 51% women and 49% men. Yet if you look at the amount of time and effort devoted to specific women’s product within the industry it certainly doesn’t equal 50%. So the idea of â€˜The OutDoor Women’ was an opportunity to celebrate the incredibly significant role of women within our sector
Question: What is so special about outdoor business and women?
Mark Held: Essentially there shouldn’t be anything â€˜special’ about the outdoor business and women, The fact is that this not the case and like many industries the core focus has been on either male or so called unisex
Question: Shouldn’t that be just normal with 50% of the population and thus the consumers being women?
Mark Held: Perhaps that is too simplistic and you really need in depth consumer studies to determine the nature of buying decisions, the effects of specific marketing balance of these decisions etc, etc. The fact is that women make up a very significant customer segment within the industry and the more tailored the industries offering is, the more likely we are to grow this segment.
Question: Historically, outdoor activity is a male issue. What has changed recently to focus an outdoor trade show on women?
Mark Held: I recollect having seen photographs of women climbers at the end of the last century and I think that women have always played a key role in the outdoors. The fact that the industry side has not reflected this is the issue, but I stress that we’re not on any gender crusade here, we merely wish to celebrate and highlight the opportunities that exist for an increased focus on women in the outdoors.
Question: Unisex sizes were initially created to make production for industry and purchasing for retailers easier due to lesser sizes. What went wrong that women sizes are necessary again?
Mark Held: When it comes to apparel unisex works in some cases, but in many more it doesn’t. It is healthy for the industry to recognise the physical differences between men and women and equally as importantly to recognise the economic buying power of women! Fudging the issue with unisex and a â€˜one product for all’ philosophy is missing out on major marketing and selling opportunities.
Question: What does the EOG want to achieve with the focus on women?
Mark Held: Simple, we wish to allow the brands, retailers, press and everyone else the opportunity to consider the issues of women in the outdoors in a constructive and positive way. We hope it will stimulate the industry to find new ways of addressing the needs of outdoor women and in doing so add to the variety and richness of our sector.