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Is your business standing on a Burning Platform?

OIA' s Frank Hugelmeyer asks if retailers are ready for change. Technology isn't the only variable, consumer habits and interests are rapidly shifting

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Heading into Outdoor Retailer Winter Market, OIA President and CEO Frank Hugelmeyer shares with us what the organization is focusing on to prep outdoor businesses for the next generation .

The Burning Platform is a change management conundrum that emphasizes the need for immediate and radical change due to dire circumstances. Its origins emanate from a story about a man facing inevitable or probable death while standing on a remote and flaming oil rig in the North Sea. Despite the unpleasant options, he still must choose. The parable strongly implies that to not act at all is the most foolish choice.


Over the past decade, the outdoor industry has experienced the most rapid, fundamental and exciting shifts ever to impact our community. Thanks to technology, we have watched the traditional rules of retail give way to a new consumer-driven mobile model that is at the core of an expanding global marketplace. Add to that dynamic trading environment a potent stew of changing demographics, increased urbanization, evolving consumer preference and constant political bickering and we have in hand the potential for many outdoor businesses to find themselves on a Burning Platform.

Business consultant, Peter Sheahan, emphasizes how “change is slow, until it is not” and how this observation for broad markets seems to be true for the outdoor industry. We’ve been migrating to online and mobile retail for some time. We’ve seen the expansion of urban markets and digital aboriginals grow. The millennial market is beginning to show signs that it will shape our market, and drive and lead the tools we will use for commerce in the future.

Paco Underhill has warned us that retail stores will change more in the next 12 years than they have changed over the past 50 years. Clearly, today’s outdoor consumer is not tomorrow’s outdoor consumer. The industry’s traditional definition of “outdoor” will be very different as future consumers define it. Retail is quickly trending towards “metailing,” “pretailing” and “crowdshopping.” Urban culture is becoming the dominant global lifestyle. Time, energy and, most importantly, convenience are the new consumer currencies.

My question for you is … are you ready? Or are you standing on a Burning Platform?

In a recent survey, we learned that OIA members believe that inspiring and growing future generations of outdoor enthusiasts is a top priority for the industry. But going forward, our greatest risk might be our greatest asset. We have built an incredibly strong enthusiast consumer base because we are enthusiasts. With that in mind, do you truly understand what is important to the future generation of outdoor enthusiasts? And, are you aware of how your current enthusiast bias is relevant to tomorrow’s outdoor consumer? And more importantly, do you understand how your bias can either create opportunities or increase barriers to reach the future outdoor consumer?

In partnership, Outdoor Industry Association® (OIA) and Outdoor Retailer will help companies know more about these market changes than anyone else. OIA is your go-to-source for understanding how to meet the ever-changing needs of the new outdoor consumer and how to align your business for long-term success. Americans spend more than $646 billion annually on outdoor recreation because they recognize the value and significance of meaningful experiences in their daily lives, and they prove it with their wallets. The signs for the industry are strong and OIA members are positioned to become stronger.

So get smarter, faster. OIA has spent the last 25 years ensuring the growth and success of the outdoor industry. And we are proud that 91 percent of our members would recommend an OIA membership to their peers. In 2014, we are doubling down on providing new tools, vital research and the strategic knowledge members need to stay ahead of the curve.

Don’t be left on a Burning Platform … join us on this journey and access these resources. Your business and our industry can only benefit and grow into the future.

Frank Hugelmeyer
President & CEO
Outdoor Industry Association