2023 Special Report on Hunting

The 2023 Special Report on Hunting and the Shooting Sports provides a comprehensive look at the more than 14 million Americans ages 6 and over who participated at least once in hunting with both firearms and archery equipment in 2022. The report identifies trends and includes detailed information about participation including motivations, barriers, and preferences of participants.

Highlights from the report include:

  • In 2022, 14.7 million Americans hunted at least one time with a bow or a firearm.

  • Hunting participation increased 1% in 2022 compared to 2021.

  • Bowhunting (archery) and hunting with a handgun increased, while hunting with a rifle and hunting with a shotgun remained even with 2021 numbers.

  • Hunting-license sales dropped 3.1% in 2022, bringing license sales back down to 2019 pre-pandemic levels.

  • Harvesting food and meat remains a key inspiration to hunters, as do the desire to be close to nature and the challenge hunting provides. Limited access to quality hunting grounds and the high cost of ammunition were the most cited difficulties in 2022.

This special report was developed in partnership with the Outdoor Foundation, which works with partners across the country to address equity barriers and help make the outdoors accessible for all.

We all deserve to Thrive Outside

Discover how the Outdoor Foundation is working to create a more inclusive and accessible outdoor experience for all.

2023 Special Report on Fishing

Whether fishing on lakes, rivers, streams, or seas, millions of Americans were united in 2022 by the love of fishing. For the thirteenth consecutive year, OIA’s philanthropic arm, Outdoor Foundation, has partnered with the Recreational Boating & Fishing Foundation (RBFF) to produce the Special Report on Fishing.   

The report provides a comprehensive review of fishing participation trends, including detailed information on specific fishing categories and audiences. Here are some key findings from the report:  

  • In 2022, 54.5 million Americans ages 6 and over took to the nation’s waterways to enjoy recreational fishing, a 4 percent increase from 2021.  
  • Fishing participation among Hispanic people ages 6 and over has increased about 45 percent over the last decade.  
  • Over the last decade, female participant numbers grew nearly 4 million, from 16 million in 2012 to 19.8 million in 2022. Females represented 36 percent of total anglers and 42 percent of first-time participants. 
  • New anglers are younger, more diverse, and highly socially connected.  
  • Only 18 percent of anglers typically fished alone, reiterating that fishing remained a shared activity in 2022. 

Data continues to underscore the critical importance of introducing fishing at a young age, as 86 percent of current fishing participants fished before the age of 12. That’s why programs like Outdoor Foundation’s Thrive Outside Initiative are so important, as they help youth access the outdoors – youth participation in Thrive Outside increased 175% in 2022. Learn more about our work to make the outdoors more equitable and accessible here.  

For press inquiries, contact Chris@dennyink.com

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2023 Outdoor Participation Trends Report

Executive SUmmary

Access key findings from the report:

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OIA members and Outdoor Foundation partners have exclusive access to the full 72-page report to inform their brand’s consumer and business strategy and to help drive equitable access to the outdoors nationwide. For the good of the industry, OIA and OF share key findings from the Executive Summary with the public each year.  

Here’s a sneak preview of what’s in the Executive Summary 

  • The outdoor recreation participant base grew 2.3 percent in 2022 to a record 168.1 million participants or 55 percent of the U.S. population ages six and older. 

  • Although 2022 outdoor recreation included record numbers of participants and record high participation rates (especially amongst families and youth), the number of outings per participant declined in 2022 for the first time since the pandemic began in 2020. 

  • The outdoor recreation new participant base became more diverse in 2022 including increases in participation among Black people, Hispanic people, and LBGTQIA+ people.   

  • 80% of outdoor activity categories experienced participation growth in 2022 including large categories like camping and fishing, and smaller categories like sport climbing and skateboarding. 

For over 15 years, the Outdoor Participation Trends Report has served as the most trusted and comprehensive source of insights and narratives around who’s doing what, when, and how outdoors. The Outdoor Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Outdoor Industry Association, funds the research and publishes the findings in partnership with OIA every year.  

For press inquiries, contact Chris@dennyink.com

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Ready to read the full report and get a deeper look? Contact our membership team and join our member-led collective.  

Research Roundup: Spring 2023

Outdoor Consumers are Dreaming About Spending Their IRS Refunds 

It’s tax season, and many outdoor recreation participants expect a refund from the IRS. The IRS reports that the average refund in 2023 will be $3,140, enough to pay for things like a new bike, next year’s ski pass, camping gear, or a solar generator. Right now, while consumers wait for refunds to arrive, they are thinking about how to use them. Research in neuropsychology reveals that we experience powerful emotions when thinking about future events. This period of anticipation—when people dream about experiences they plan to have—is the perfect time to market outdoor experiences and the products associated with them, like riding a new bike on an epic trip to Moab (and all of the micro-experiences related to biking) or just hiking local trails in new boots. This is the period in which marketing is most effective because it can help consumers weave their desire for experiences into purchases of products that will enhance that experience. Outdoor consumers expecting tax refunds are dreaming right now, so tap into it and help them do more than simply imagine the experiences your products can unleash.  

Outdoor Consumers Care about Brands’ Social Stances 

The risks of taking stands on social issues include lost customers, damage to brand image, and reduced sales. On the flip side, more than half of outdoor consumers say that they do care about brands’ stances on social issues. Currently, identity politics is having an impact across the market, and this creates dangerous waters for many outdoor brands. Social Identity Theory was originally developed to explore the psychological basis of intergroup discrimination. Tajfel et al. (1971) attempted to identify minimum conditions that would lead members of one group to discriminate for the in-group to which they belonged and against another out-group. The most striking example is the current divide driven by the concept of being “woke.” Lists of woke brands are circulated by both pro and con groups signaling whether members should buy more of or “cancel” the brand. These campaigns tend to be started and amplified by the fringes that have strong feelings or gain politically by filtering everything through their identity filter. The data indicate a more reasoned response from most consumers.   

A deeper dive reveals that while these consumers care about a brand’s stance, they don’t always think brands should take positions on social or political issues. In today’s environment, that may be unavoidable. Only one-third of outdoor consumers asked said that brands should NEVER take a stand on social or political issues. While consumers expect brands to have some kind of stance on social and political issues, they don’t want the brands to be reactive. Brands may consider communicating core values that describe the fundamental beliefs and priorities of the brand. For example, a brand could talk about sustainability and climate as core values and choose not to comment on a devastating hurricane.  

 

ChatGPT is a useful tool for outdoor brands 

Recently, ChatGPT has been getting a lot attention, but what is it, and what can it do? ChatGPT is a prototype artificial intelligence chatbot developed by OpenAI, which specializes in dialogue/chat. It can write product descriptions, help you write a business plan, describe consumer segments (you have to come with data), and even help with financials. 

I couldn’t help trying it out. Here is a sample of the questions asked and the AI-generated answers: 

Question/direction:  Can you define hiking?   

ChatGPT answer:  

“Hiking is a form of outdoor activity that involves walking or trekking through natural environments, such as mountains, forests, or trails. It is often done for leisure, exercise, or to explore and appreciate the beauty of the outdoors. Hiking can range from short, easy walks on well-defined trails to longer, more challenging hikes on rugged terrain and can be done alone or with a group. Hiking often involves some degree of physical exertion but can be enjoyed by people of all ages and fitness levels.” 

Question/direction: Write a business plan for heated ski poles.   

ChatGPT response:  

Sample from the Executive Summary: 

“At Heated Ski Poles, Inc., our goal is to provide skiers with the ultimate skiing experience. Our innovative heated ski poles will keep skiers’ hands warm and comfortable throughout the day, allowing them to enjoy their time on the slopes without being hindered by cold fingers. Our poles will be made of high-quality materials and feature state-of-the-art heating technology. We will offer a range of heated ski poles in different sizes and styles to accommodate the needs of all skiers.” 

This tool is a glimpse into the future of search, supercharged by machine learning and ultimately by AI. This technology has vast implications for the future of access to information. This could shake up the service economy, including financial services, logistics, supply chain management, market research, technical writing services, coding and computer programming, and many others. ChatGPT can write code, mathematical formulae, and even poetry.  

Click here to try ChatGPT 

 

Trend Spotter: “Core”  

According to the online news site Fashionista, new “core” aesthetics are showing up daily in TikTok feeds, including the previously covered “Cottage Core” and “Gorpcore” trends. Fashionista made a list that includes descriptions of each aesthetic, starting with the original “normcore,” coined to describe a unisex fashion trend in 2014 by millennials at K-Hole marketing. The point isn’t the aesthetics but rather the influence of Gen Z, in particular, and also language on how we describe aesthetics. Core is part of that trend, including:  

  • Darkcore aesthetic
  • Balletcore 
  • Cottage core 
  • Barbiecore 
  • Vacation core  

Research Roundup: Fall 2022

Here at OIA, our research team focuses on providing you with insights into the outdoor consumer: what drives their choices, what gear they choose, and what they value about their outdoor experiences. With our newsletter — Research Roundup — we aim to deliver the best data from our partner, CivicScience, who can reach hundreds of thousands of consumers in real-time to ask questions and gather insights that give you clear insights. You’ll also gain easy access to the full catalog of research reports we offer as well as trends we are tracking.

Happy reading!

 

Kelly Davis

Director of Research

 

Who are the Outdoor Recreators Most Likely to Visit State or National Parks?

OIA has excellent data on outdoor recreation participation by category; I can tell you how many Americans hiked, ran trails, went fishing, etc. However, I couldn’t tell how many or who were visiting state and national parks until now. Data captured by CivicScience helped us build a view of who is visiting state and national parks and how often they visit. This information can help us segment outdoor recreators who are likely to visit a state or national park and target the most likely groups. The data indicate that – among American adults – younger persons, persons who are parents and grandparents, and persons who live in suburban and rural areas are more likely than others to be frequent park visitors.

Of the very small group of participants who visit state parks between a few times a month and a few times a week, younger adults edged out older participants. But – of the relatively larger group of total participants who visit state parks a few times a year – those aged 55 to 64 were more frequent visitors than younger visitors.

Source: CivicScience, October 2022 – Canonical – Adults Filter

Parents and grandparents are more likely to visit state and national parks more frequently. Parents were most likely to visit parks, grandparents came in second, and adults with no children were least likely to visit. Note that our sample did not include children ages 17 and under.

Source: CivicScience, October 2022 – Canonical – Adults Filter

The type of area (urban, suburban, rural) matters when predicting who is most likely to visit a state or national park. Persons who live in urban environments are least likely to visit a state or national park. Persons who live in the suburbs are most likely to visit state and national parks, and rural residents are most likely to be frequent park visitors, but about the same percentage of urban and rural dwellers say they almost never or never visit state or national parks.

Source: CivicScience, October 2022 – Canonical – Adults Filter

Do Outdoor Recreators Use Cannabis?

On October 6 of this year, President Biden signed an executive order that pardoned all federal offenses of simple marijuana possession, and ordered the Department of Health and Human Services to review how marijuana is scheduled under federal law where it is currently classified as a “Schedule I” substance along with far more dangerous substances including methamphetamine, heroin, and cocaine. Whenever cannabis is in the news, the OIA research team gets questions about outdoor recreation and cannabis use. In the past, we have speculated about the intersection of outdoor and cannabis; this time we used empirical data from CivicScience to show how cannabis use varies between outdoor recreation participants and non-participants.

Overall, outdoor recreation participants are more likely to use cannabis than the average American, except for runners who are less likely to use cannabis than the average American. The chart below shows that 26% of hiking, camping, and fishing participants; 1 in 4 bicycle riders; and 1 in 4 hunting and fishing participants say they are cannabis users. Note that this is not a measure of cannabis use during outdoor recreation; it is simply a measurement of general use among those who participate in those activities.

Source: CivicScience, October 2022 – Canonical – Adults Filter

What Types of Cars Do Outdoor Recreation Participants Choose?

One of the psychographics we commonly use to correlate activities across market research is the type of car a respondent drives. This is an area of keen interest, not only to the automotive industry but to outdoor accessories manufacturers (think racks), gear manufacturers, and even apparel brands. Knowing what kind of car someone prefers can provide a deeper look into their consumer type and choices. Purchasing a car is one of the biggest purchases many consumers make. If we know what type of vehicle someone drives, it can help us predict other purchases and behaviors across a wide variety of categories.

Consider that persons who hunt or fish are most likely, by a significant margin, to prefer a truck. That’s not a huge surprise, but it helps us better understand how to market products and services to that group. Note that runners are more likely than others to prefer sports cars and sedans. Bicyclists are most likely to prefer an SUV. The majority (68%) of outdoor enthusiasts who camp, hike, or paddle prefer either an SUV or a truck. The following chart indicates that outdoor recreation participants tend to prefer vehicles that facilitate their love of the outdoors by buying vehicles that can transport both them and their gear.

Source: CivicScience, October 2022

Trend Spotter: Trekking Poles!

Maybe it’s the spread of hiking content on social media, but whether it’s a TikTok or Instagram-driven trend or not, trekking poles seem to be everywhere right now, from the fists of casual hikers on local trails to thru-hikers on the PCT and the AT. I had received questions about this, so I turned to a source that I knew had his finger on the trekking pole pulse: Reese Brown, executive director of the Cross Country Ski Areas Association. Cross-country ski poles are a requisite part of a cross-country ski kit – you aren’t going far without them if you’re skiing on XC trails, so the makers of those poles are very familiar to those in the cross-country ski category. Additionally, Reese has been trying to convince me to try trekking poles for longer, more technical hikes for many years.

“Trekking poles make walking and hiking a more balanced physical experience by fully incorporating the upper body. In addition to better efficiency overall, you will take the stress off critical joints like knees and ankles reducing the chance of injury from an accident or from overuse.”  (Reese Brown, Executive Director, CCSAA)

 

2022 Special Report on Hunting and the Shooting Sports

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The 2022 Special Report on Hunting and the Shooting Sports provides a comprehensive look at the more than 30 million Americans ages 6 and over who participated at least once in hunting or target shooting with both firearms and archery equipment in 2021. The report identifies trends and includes detailed information about participation including motivations, barriers, and preferences of participants. Highlights from the report include: Hunting:
  • 4.6 percent of the U.S. population ages 6 and over went hunting at least once
  • 27 percent of participants were female, up from 16 percent a decade ago
  • Share of hunters who were Black or Hispanic increased 4 percent and 1 percent, respectively, on average for the past 3 years
  • “For food/meat” was the number one motivation for hunting
  • 49 percent of hunters first participated before the age of 18
  • 68 percent of hunters were introduced to hunting by a family members
Firearms Target Shooting:
  • 6.2 percent of the U.S. population ages 6 and over participated in target shooting
  • 32 percent of participants were female, up from 25 percent a decade ago
  • Share of target shooters who were Black or Hispanic increased 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively, on average for the past 3 years
  • “For recreation” was the number one motivation for target shooting
  • “High cost” was the number one barrier reported for target shooting
Archery Target Shooting:
  • 2.4 percent of the U.S. population ages 6 and over participated in archery
  • 39 percent of participants were female, the highest since 2016
  • Archers are slightly more diverse that firearms target shooters
  • “For recreation” was the number one motivation for target shooting
  • 19 percent of participants shot solely on public property/ranges
This special report was developed by the Council to Advance Hunting and the Shooting Sports and the Outdoor Foundation.

Research Roundup: August 2022

Here at OIA, our research team focuses on providing you with insights into the outdoor consumer: what drives their choices, what gear they choose, and what they value about their outdoor experiences. With our new monthly newsletter — Research Roundup — we aim to deliver the best data from our partner, CivicScience, who can reach hundreds of thousands of consumers in real-time to ask questions and gather insights that give you clear insights. You’ll also gain easy access to the full catalog of research reports we offer as well as trends we are tracking.

Happy reading!

 

Kelly Davis

Director of Research

 

Outdoor Participants are Worried About Inflation

Overall, outdoor recreation consumers are significantly concerned about inflation, but their concern appears to have reached a plateau.  Outdoor participants are less concerned about inflation than the average U.S. consumer.

Source: CivicScience. 78,305 responses MoE= +/- 1%

Outdoor recreation consumers say they do not plan to spend more next month on groceries, at bars, or toys and hobbies (including outdoor gear).

Keep in mind, outdoor recreation participants tend to spend more than the average American adult across most categories with the notable exception of groceries. When budgets need to be tightened, outdoor participants literally tighten their belts by cutting spending on groceries.


Source: CivicScience. 62.363 responses MoE= +/- 1%

This data indicates that outdoor consumers will continue to spend on outdoor gear, but they do not plan to increase their spending on the category. We should expect flat to slightly declining sales in the outdoor market in August and September.

 

Who is Willing to Adjust Their Lifestyle to Help the Environment?

I just finished reading “Is Outdoor Recreation Associated with Greater Climate Change Concern in the United States? by Kyle Knight and Feng Hao. The authors start with the hypothesis that is often repeated in discussions about climate and outdoor that persons who participate in “nature-based leisure activities” have more pro-environmental attitudes than those who don’t. The data and analysis presented in that study is robust and showed a positive significant effect between the frequency of outings and climate change concern. If you have another excellent data source, it never hurts to see if your data jibes with an interesting finding. I decided to take a look at our CivicScience data to see if it told the same story. Spoiler alert, it did.

Overall, outdoor recreation participants are more likely to adjust their lifestyle to help the environment. This is particularly remarkable because we found relatively even distributions of political affiliation across major outdoor recreation categories including hiking, bicycling, camping, running, fishing, and hunting. Political affiliation, overall, had the most significant impact on responses to the question “Do you try to adjust your lifestyle to help the environment?”  Even while controlling for political affiliation, people that participate in outdoor recreation are more likely than non-participants to adjust their lifestyles at least occasionally to help the environment.

One of the major advantages of CivicScience data is the size of response. In this case, we are looking at more than 200,000 responses and margins or error under +/-1%. This data gives us a more granular look at outdoor activity and attitudes about the environment. In fact, the question “Do you try to adjust your lifestyle to help the environment?” is even more powerful because we can examine it by outdoor category. Additionally, we can compare it to segments of the general population.

 

Overall, cyclists are most willing to adjust their lifestyles to help the environment. Bicyclists are being chased by the camp/hike/fish category in second place and runners in a close third. Hunters report that they are less likely to make any lifestyle changes to help the environment than other outdoor recreators, but hunters were no more likely than Democrats (generally) to say they would never adjust their lifestyle to help the environment. Additionally, hunters contribute more than $1.6 billion each year for conservation programs through license fees and contributions to conservation groups. Republicans (generally) are least likely to say they would make any adjustments in their lifestyle to help the environment. In fact, in this survey alone, out of 160,662 Republicans surveyed, more than 88,000 indicated they would never adjust their lifestyle to help the environment.

The hypothesis that people who participate in outdoor recreation are more likely to make changes in their lifestyle to help the environment is correct. The data indicate that this holds true across political affiliations. Maybe outdoor recreation offers a platform for civil discourse across political lines about environmental issues that will help us conserve and protect public lands and mitigate impacts of climate change for future generations.

Trend Spotter: Meet the Upcycler

No, this is not about riding bikes uphill! Upcycled clothing may recall visions of DIY fashion projects gone awry, but today luxe apparel designers are presenting upcycled fashion in their collections. This trend is a nod to sustainable manufacturing and awareness of the environmental impact of apparel manufacturing. Sustainability is key to this trend and consumers of all ages are integrating concerns about the environment into their fashion statements and their decisions about what they will purchase. Read more about outdoor brands with repair, resell & upcycled gear programs.

Research Grab Bag

You can now download the Outdoor Industry Workforce Assessment which looks to identify major trends in workforce hiring and retention, help further educational and up-skilling initiatives, and provide a snapshot of where the industry stands in its efforts to increase diversity, equity, and inclusion. Key findings from the survey include the following:

  • New hires: The industry expects to hire for a high volume of entry and skilled professional positions over the next year.
  • Work/life balance: Outdoor companies are prioritizing flexible work arrangements and work-life balance as attraction and retention strategies ahead of employee benefits and financial rewards.
  • Qualified applicants: 66% of survey respondents report having difficulty finding qualified applicants. The largest barriers to recruiting hard-to-fill jobs are finding qualified applicants, and lack of affordable housing options proximal to the job location.
  • Increasing DEI: Companies who have a diversity plan in place are utilizing a wide variety of methods and tactics to achieve their goals. However, companies that do not currently have a diversity plan in place largely do not plan to implement one or do not know where to start.

If you don’t want to read about it, you can watch our panel discussion about it here.

You can also download the new State of the Outdoor Market report, which shares exclusive insights on participation, consumer trends, and economic and social forces impacting our industry. Key findings from the report include:

  • Outdoor economy: Outdoor recreation accounted for 1.8% of the U.S. GDP in 2021 with $689B in gross output and 4.3M jobs.
  • Increasing diversity: Diversity in age and ethnicity is accelerating in the U.S., but the outdoor participant base is less diverse than the population.
  • Outdoor growth: New participant entries into outdoor recreation are 26% since January 2020. Skateboarding, hiking, kayaking, and surfing had the highest growth rates across outdoor categories.
  • Post-COVID effects: Patterns in how we return to work will affect outdoor participation. Remote work allows many to participate outdoors for the first time, during hours when they would have been in an office or commuting, and across more outdoor activities.
  • Rising inflation: High inflation, 9.1% in June and 8.5% in July, is likely to reduce spending in the outdoor market.
  • Fashion trends: Several fashion trends are currently red hot including “Cottage Core” and “Coastal Grandmother.” Read about and see images related to these and more hot trends that are likely to impact outdoor apparel.