2021 Special Report: New Outdoor Participant (COVID and Beyond)

March 31, 2021

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic restrictions, more Americans have turned to the outdoors, some for the first time and others for the first time in many years. These new outdoor participants represent an unprecedented opportunity to grow and diversify the outdoor community. But to capitalize on this opportunity, we need to better understand these participants.

Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) commissioned this one-time special report from research partner NAXION to share exclusive insights about Americans’ engagement in outdoor activities amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The special report examines demographics and psychographics of the new outdoor participant — defined as someone who participated in an outdoor activity for the first time during the pandemic or after a significant lapse.

Among other key takeaways, the report reveals that:

  • New participants are more likely to be female, younger, living in an urban area and slightly more ethnically diverse than existing participants.
  • New participants primarily sought socially-distanced outdoor activities in order to spend time with loved ones safely, to exercise, stay healthy or to reduce screen-time fatigue.
  • New participants are largely motivated by outdoor recreation opportunities with low barriers to entry that are available and accessible within 10 miles of their homes, including walking, running, biking and hiking.

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