A Look Back at Cross-Category Learning with Kenji Haroutunian

What can the bike, outdoor and paddle industries learn from each other? Luckily our own Kenji Haroutunian recorded a podcast with the National Bicycle Dealers Association and discussed these issues at the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis. 

When COVID-19 hit the US, there was a painful disruption and halt to specialty retailers in all of these categories. The industry was able to get back on track even with new regulations to follow, which allowed for a comeback story for each retailer.

There are many opportunities covered in the podcast that still apply today.

Podcast –  NBDA Link YouTube Link

Hardgoods leaders are more similar than are different as we consider paddle, camp, climb and bike markets. 

It is imperative to connect with customers, new and old. Creativity in human connection is so key – zoom calls, online connection and facetime and how you use these platforms accordingly. This helps specialty retailers sell! There is a major opportunity for innovation that will keep the enthusiasts interested and shepherd the experiences of the newcomer. 

There is power in vulnerability. “We are all in this together, we are in this with you and we need your help. Ask and be authentic. Learn to use the community building approach.” – Darren Bush, Owner and Chief Paddling Evangelist at Rutabaga Paddlesports.  

How do you get product in the hands of customers? Logistics are so important to address- concierge service, curbside pick-up and a can-do everything approach is really connecting with customers. For example, this can even mean dropping a bike in a driveway. Creativity is key here!

Marketing efforts have had more of an impact on sales. “Sales are directly attributed to marketing efforts, 45% are from new customers,” said Bush

There is a belief in the industry that hardgoods will define the future of outdoor recreation. Customers can’t experience the outdoors without hardgoods – camping equipment, a boat, a bike. We need to run with this and learn from eachother.

The Big Gear Show allows this to happen. 

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