According to the National Retail Federation’s 2013 Back-to-College survey, total spending for the back-to-college market is expected to reach $45.8 billion this year. For outdoor brands and retailers, the back-to-school market is too big to ignore.
“Back-to-school is huge for us. We consider it to be one of our anchor seasons, like Memorial Day, Labor Day and Christmas,” says Mike Massey of Massey’s Professional Outfitters in New Orleans, La. “We buy products and create merchandise programs to take advantage of the back-to-school business.”
A college student’s back-to-school shopping list includes lifestyle apparel, footwear and accessories like water bottles. Backpacks and messenger bags represent one of the biggest opportunities for outdoor brands.
Research conducted by The National Association of College Stores found that backpacks are college students’ preferred mode of carrying books and supplies. Among the various styles, 70.9 percent prefer a backpack to carry to class, 10.4 percent chose a tote and 8.5 percent prefer the messenger style bag.
Outdoor brands well known for technical backpacks are pursuing the back-to-school market with products tailored to this audience. Laptop sleeves, multiple pockets for electronics and organization are key features for college students.
“Osprey is actively pursuing the back-to-campus market with a pretty broad range of products. We’ve been building packs that have been popular on campus for a very long time. Students clearly appreciate the quality materials and construction, as well as the comfortable carry,” said Erik Hamerschlag, product line manager at Osprey Packs, Inc. (…)
“We are primarily focused on our retail channels and getting them the programs and products that will help drive back-to-school business. That typically means having the product available to ship early and partnering with retailers in their own marketing efforts,” said Hamerschlag.