Outdoor Industry Association and NAXION Release Special Report on the ‘New Outdoor Participant’: More Diverse Participants Attracted to Outdoors Amid Covid-19 Pandemic

Close-to-Home Activities with Low Barrier to Entry are Main Drivers for New Participants 

BOULDER, Colo. (March 31, 2021) —Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) today released 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.

In response to member requests, OIA commissioned the one-time special report from research partner NAXION. The report reveals that these new participants are more likely to be female, younger, living in an urban area and slightly more ethnically diverse than existing participants. These 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. The report also found that 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.

“This one-of-a-kind report further shows the pandemic has brought in new participants as well as some new behaviors. Time outside is an antidote to the stress of the pandemic and can be a continued source of fun, joy, wonder, and a boost to our mental and physical health. The outdoor industry and its partners can serve a growing and changing need for outdoor recreation by championing funding and policies – such as 30×30 conservation initiatives, the ‘Parks, Jobs and Equity Act’ and the ‘Great American Outdoors Act’ – that provide more opportunities for all to experience close-to-home recreation and help everyone recreate responsibly,” said Lise Aangeenbrug, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association.

New participants found the outdoors to be a safe and accessible way to spend time with friends and family amid tight pandemic restrictions that limited indoor gatherings. Additionally, people cited that the pandemic’s impact has inspired them to re-evaluate priorities, seeking positive life changes and reducing screen time.

“Initial findings of the special new participant report show strong overall increases in outdoor recreation by a slightly more demographically and socioeconomically diverse participant base. This highlights the need to ensure equitable access to the outdoors for all. We can do this by helping to create programming, policy and content around close-to-home recreation and geared toward this broader, more diverse audience of new outdoor participants,” said Stephanie Maez, managing director at the Outdoor Foundation.

“Most new participants hold a strong intent to continue their outdoor pursuits while about 25 percent say that travel, resuming other activities and family demands will challenge their free time and ability to continue to recreate as they currently do. Now is the time to embrace new participants and develop programming for them to continue their outdoor pursuits.”

The special report highlights the following opportunities to increase retention of new outdoor participants:

  • Create more outdoor recreation opportunities close to home: Parks and open areas near where people live are a crucial part of growing participation. The pandemic has shown that there is a demand for close-to-home outdoor recreation opportunities.
  • Invest in programming that engages families in the outdoors.
  • Help new participants make their activities more social as restrictions lift.
  • Develop programs and services with the specific goal of diversifying the participant base.
  • Develop strategies for encouraging people to start with activities such as walking, running, hiking and birdwatching, which have relatively low barriers to entry.
  • Position outdoor recreation as:
    • an antidote to the mental health consequences of the pandemic.
    • a way to get out from behind the screens that have dominated pandemic life.
    • a method to maintain the focus on what is important in life.

View the 2021 Special Report in full: The New Outdoor Participant (COVID and Beyond)

Initial research from the Outdoor Foundation Annual Outdoor Participation report reflects data gathered during the 2020, identifying tremendous increases in outdoor participation across all activities including hiking, camping and fishing amid the pandemic. The full 2020 Outdoor Foundation Annual Participation Report will be released this Summer. If you would like to be notified when that report is released, click here.

About Outdoor Industry Association

Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry and the title sponsor of Outdoor Retailer. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. OIA is based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org.

About Outdoor Foundation

The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Outdoor Industry Association, is a national 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to getting people outside for their health, the health of communities and the health of the outdoor industry. Through community investment and groundbreaking research, the Outdoor Foundation works with many partners to get more people outside more often. Visit outdoorfoundation.org for more information.

About NAXION

NAXION is a broadly-resourced, nimble boutique that relies on advanced research methods, data integration, and sector-focused experience to guide strategic, data-driven business decisions. Built on decades of experience and hundreds of engagements, NAXION has supported some of the world’s largest companies in their brand and enterprise strategy. NAXION provides intelligent analysis and interpretation to guide marketing decisions that matter.

OUTDOOR INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION ISSUES STATEMENT ON RECENT VIOLENCE IN BOULDER, HOME TO OIA HQ

BOULDER, Colo. – OIA condemns hate and violence. Yesterday, we were horrified to see a heartbreaking incident of both at a supermarket near our headquarters and where many of our own staff members shop regularly. Thank you to those who have reached out to inquire about our safety. Everyone on the OIA team is safe, but we are processing the impact of this on our own community and on our country. Our deepest condolences go out to the victims, their families, and all of those affected.

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About the Outdoor Industry Association:
Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org.

Outdoor Industry Applauds Confirmation of Representative Debra Haaland as Secretary of the Interior

BOULDER, Colo. – Today, the Senate confirmed the nomination of Representative Debra Haaland for Secretary of the Interior by a vote of 51-40. Lise Aangeenburg, executive director of Outdoor Industry Association made the following statement on the historic confirmation:

“Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is thrilled the Senate has at last confirmed Secretary Deb Haaland to lead the Department of the Interior. Her stellar track record on public lands and waters, climate change, and environmental justice positions her as an integral partner to the outdoor community and a fantastic leader of the department. During her time in Congress and throughout her confirmation hearing, Secretary Haaland repeatedly demonstrated a deep understanding of the most pressing issues of the moment, including the industry’s role in economic recovery.

“Outdoor recreation is a cornerstone of American life, but it relies on the health and well-being of our country’s natural outdoor spaces. OIA and our members stand ready to work with the secretary to advance important policy priorities from conservation and climate change to access, inclusion, and more.”

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About the Outdoor Industry Association

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org.

Outdoor Industry Association Sends Senate Finance Committee Statement of Support for Katherine Tai as U.S. Trade Representative

BOULDER — The Outdoor Industry Association has sent a letter to Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore. and Mike Crapo, R-Id., Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Finance Committee, offering the industry’s support for Katherine Tai to be the United States Trade Representative. Read the full letter here.

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About the Outdoor Industry Association 

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org.

Outdoor Industry Companies Issue Statement of Support for Haaland Confirmation

BOULDER — The Outdoor Industry Association and 34 of its member companies have sent a letter to Senators Joe Manchin, D-W.Va. and John Barrasso, R-Wyo., Chairman and Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, outlining the industry’s support for Debra Haaland to be Secretary of the Interior. The committee held Haaland’s confirmation hearing on February 23. Read the full letter here.

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About the Outdoor Industry Association 

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org

Outdoor Industry Companies Issue Statement of Support for Biden’s Executive Order on the 30×30 Initiative

Boulder, Colo. — Today, Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) and 28 of its member companies sent a letter to President Biden asserting their support of and commitment to establishing a national goal to conserve at least 30 percent of our nation’s lands and waters by the year 2030 (30×30).

As president-elect, Biden announced that 30×30 would be among his priorities in his first 100 days in office. The outdoor industry, led by OIA, worked closely with the Biden-Harris transition team prior to the inauguration to identify the levers it is uniquely positioned to pull in order to meet the 30×30 goal while simultaneously driving America’s economic recovery with a focus on equity and sustainability.

For 165 years, Orvis, our customers, and our partners have built our lives around enjoying, sharing, and protecting the habitats and ecosystems that keep us deeply connected to the outdoors,” says Orvis President Simon Perkins. “The 30×30 initiative is a vital and powerful commitment to ensure a sustainable natural world — one where outdoor passions for all can flourish and continue to be passed down from generation to generation. With so many people turning to the outdoors, this is the opportunity for policy makers, knowledge experts, businesses, and the outdoor community to come together and succeed in the greatest conservation effort of our time.”

“Patagonia is in business to save our home planet,” says Patagonia CEO Ryan Gellert. “That is our mission, and it drives every decision we make and reflects our company values. President Biden’s 30×30 executive order reflects what we believe is also a treasured American value: nature conservation and climate action that is inclusive of and equitable toward all people. We applaud this executive action, and we look forward to working with the Biden administration to protect more lands and waters, keep our air and water clean and our climate stable.”

“Outdoor Industry Association works on behalf of our member companies, their consumers, and their communities to advocate for and to create thriving businesses, a thriving planet, and opportunities in which all people can thrive outside,” says OIA Executive Director Lise Aangeenbrug. “The global pandemic has put a fine point on why we need nature, not only as a buffer from the spread of viruses but also as places for respite, recreation, reflection, and safe gathering. Our industry is uniquely impacted by threats to nature and also uniquely positioned to help address them, and we look forward to working with businesses and policymakers to safeguard America’s proud heritage of nature stewardship.”

In the letter, the signatories note that success will only result if all levels of government engage and if all voices — including tribal nations, private landowners, outdoor recreation interests, historically underserved communities, and scientists, work together. You can read the full letter here.

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About the Outdoor Industry Association 

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org

OUTDOOR INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION ISSUES STATEMENT ON WEDNESDAY’S EVENTS AT THE U.S. CAPITOL

BOULDER, Colo. – Outdoor Industry Association Executive Director Lise Aangeenbrug made the following statement this evening following today’s events at the U.S. Capitol:

“President Trump began his tenure trying to dismantle important symbols of our uniquely American democracy, our public lands. For almost four years, we have endured assaults by his administration on many of the staples that our communities, our economy and our country need to thrive, but we believed we would survive as a result of our democracy and the will of the voters. Now, President Trump is inciting rioting, loss of life and the destruction of our core American democratic principles. President Trump must be stopped immediately, and the peaceful transfer of power must be ensured.

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About the Outdoor Industry Association:
Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org.

Outdoor Industry Praises Biden’s Choice of Rep. Deb Haaland to be Next Secretary of Interior

BOULDER, Colo. – President-elect Joe Biden today announced U.S. Representative Deb Haaland (D-N.M.) as his nominee to be Secretary of the Interior, the position responsible for overseeing federal land and natural resources. Outdoor Industry Association executive director Lise Aangeenbrug made the following statement about the historic nomination: 

“The Outdoor Industry Association is pleased to see Rep. Haaland nominated as Secretary of the Interior. She is a strong advocate for our nation’s public lands and waterways. In his nominations so far, President-elect Biden has demonstrated a commitment to several of the outdoor industry’s priorities, including protecting and increasing access to public lands and waters and addressing climate change. Rep. Haaland continues that trend. Beyond her obvious qualifications as a policy leader on our issues, she is a tireless advocate for diversity, equity, and inclusion. Every American should have the right to thrive outside. When outdoor spaces are welcoming, accessible, and safe for all – regardless of geography, income, or prior experience – everyone benefits. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has increased Americans’ appreciation for the outdoors. Now, the Biden administration has an opportunity to recognize this demand by creating a more thriving environment for people, the planet, and the outdoor recreation business community. A Department of Interior led by Rep. Haaland will be an important partner in keeping our lands and waters healthy and accessible for all.” 

The Secretary of Interior requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate. That process is expected to begin in early 2021.

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About the Outdoor Industry Association 

Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org

Outdoor Industry Applauds Introduction of the ‘Ocean Based Climate Solutions Act’

BOULDER, Colo. – Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) commends Congressman Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.) for introducing the “Ocean Based Climate Solutions Act” today. The bill would authorize federal funding for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to invest in ocean-based solutions to greenhouse gas emissions and conservation of coastal communities, as well as outline a national policy to protect 30 percent of the ocean by 2030.

“This landmark proposal leverages the power of conservation to combat climate change and positions our coastal communities to be an integral part of the solution,” said Executive Director of OIA, Lise Aangeenbrug. “Further, it focuses on establishing social and economic criteria to ensure our public lands and waters remain accessible, where appropriate, to all Americans and the businesses that rely on them. It is essential to have the right balance between conservation and providing Americans the access they need to thrive outside and participate in our robust outdoor recreation economy. We are pleased to see Rep. Grijalva’s legislation achieves this important balance.”

OIA’s 2020 Policy Platform, released in October 2020, supports the swift scale-up of natural climate solutions as a strategy for both climate mitigation and climate resilience across a variety of lands, waters, and habitat types – including the forests, rivers, lakes, streams, oceans, and coastal areas.

The bill awaits consideration by the House Committee on Natural Resources.

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About the Outdoor Industry Association
Based in Boulder, Colo., with offices in Washington, D.C., Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) is the leading trade association for the outdoor industry. OIA unites and serves 1300 manufacturer, supplier, sales representative and retailer members through its focus on trade and recreation policy, sustainable business innovation and outdoor participation. For more information, visit outdoorindustry.org.

A New Tool for Local Governments to Diversify Outdoor Spaces and Programs Released at Outdoor Economy Conference

Local communities across the United States have a new resource available to help them diversify their outdoor spaces and programs, thanks to a model resolution released today at the Outdoor Economy Conference by a coalition of partners including the In Solidarity Project, Growing Outdoors Partnership, and the NC Recreation and Park Association.

This Outdoor Diversity Resolution is a resource for all communities interested in making their outdoor spaces a key asset in building an inclusive and healthy community. The model resolution is inspired by the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge, which businesses and nonprofits can commit to as a powerful tool connecting leading outdoor brands with inclusion advocates to advance representation for people of color across the outdoor industry.

“As the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge has spread across the country and around the globe, we kept hearing from local and state government leaders who wanted an equivalent document they could sign and commit to,” said Teresa Baker, founder of the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge and In Solidarity. “We are excited to announce this new resolution so that government organizations can move forward along with the Pledge’s business and nonprofit partners in diversifying the outdoors.”

The outdoors are essential for our communities – both for the individual people who need outdoor access for their own health, and for the community itself via things like heat island reduction, flood control, and climate resilience. The Resolution lays out the benefits of time spent outdoors, what has led to a lack of diversity in outdoor spaces, and what specific steps local communities can take to ensure that their outdoor spaces and programs are more just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive.

This Resolution grew out of the “Growth Through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion” working group of the Outdoor Economy Conference, which held up the Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge as a clear step forward that conference attendees could take and noted the need for a government equivalent. Diquan Edmonds, program coordinator at the NC Recreation and Park Association, reached out to Baker and her Pledge co-founder Chris Perkins to see if something already existed.

When it turned out there was not something like this in place, Edmonds led the development of a model resolution that could easily be adapted to fit the needs of communities across North Carolina and nationwide, while the In Solidarity Project volunteered to host the Resolution alongside the Pledge on their website, and to help reach out to the many communities that had contacted them asking for a tool like this Resolution.

“We know that action starts in our local communities,” said Edmonds. “We are excited to empower professionals, volunteers, and community members with the tools to coordinate action across North Carolina and get this resolution implemented. The biggest opportunity comes from working with peers across the country to create shared learning and accountability nationwide.”

Conference organizers are excited to see the resolution emerge and take on a life of its own. “This resolution is such a clear way to ensure that whatever kind of organization you are—a business, nonprofit, or government entity—you can make a public commitment to diversify the outdoors,” says Outdoor Economy Conference organizer Noah Wilson. “What starts here can quickly take root across the country and even the globe, because everyone needs access to open spaces, wild places, and great jobs. And that starts with us taking responsibility for just, equitable, diverse, and inclusive access to outdoor places and the outdoor industry in our own communities.”

About the Outdoor Economy Conference

The Outdoor Economy Conference connects, educates, and inspires leaders and doers working to grow the outdoor industry and craft an economy that’s intimately tied to the well-being of their places and communities. With the outdoors more essential than ever, this year’s conference is bringing together outdoor leaders from around the country to advance five timely topics and ensure a better future for the outdoor economy and the people and places it serves. These five topics include: Healthy Communities Through Recreation; Growth Through Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion; Outdoor Innovation + Entrepreneurship; Next Generation Outdoors; and Building Outdoor Communities.

About the In Solidarity Project and the Outdoor Industry CEO Diversity Pledge

The Outdoor CEO Diversity Pledge connects leading outdoor brands with inclusion advocates to advance representation for people of color across the industry. We’re focused on enhancing representation across staff and executive teams, media and marketing, and athletes/ambassadors. By building a relationship of support, empathy and understanding, versus external skepticism and internal stress, we’re moving the outdoor industry towards authentic inclusion.

About the NC Recreation and Park Association

Founded in 1944, the North Carolina Recreation & Park Association (NCRPA) is the premier nonprofit education and advocacy organization, dedicated to the advancement of the park, recreation and leisure professions in our state. NCRPA empowers park and recreation professionals and community board members through educational opportunities that enhance their ability to change lives and impact communities on a daily basis for the people of North Carolina.