Posted in on January 20, 2010

Marketing Outdoor Recreation to Baby Boomers, Silent Generation

Yesterday we let a Baby Boomer, a “gap kid” (born just after Generation Jones) and a member of Generation X sound off on whether REI’s first-ever TV ads will motivate Boomers.  It was the first-ever Creating Results generational face-off.  Today, we address a perhaps bigger question:  Old People Don’t Hike or Camp, Do They?

Demographics of Outdoor Recreation

Outdoor recreation such as hiking or camping are indeed popular with mature Americans (Baby Boomers and members of the Silent Generation).  The Outdoor Foundation’s Special Report on Camping shows that a full third of participants in camping are over the age of 45 years old.  (However, their report shows only one person over age 30, and he’s on page 9.)

 Camping bar chart

The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association has reported that seniors are frequent day hikers; more than 1,524,000 Americans age 55 and older hike at least 15 days a year.  64.9% of American Hiker readers are Baby Boomers or Silent Generation members (50+).

And research completed for the Canadian Tourism Commission in 2003 pointed out that as Baby Boomers age, hikers will get slightly older on average in the coming years, with “almost 3-in-10 hikers/backpackers falling into the 55+ age group.”

For REI specifically, Quantcast estimates that a quarter of the visitors to their website are over 50 years old.  The average age of their catalog buyer has been reported as 44.  And as Brent Green has commented, 27% of REI’s business comes from Baby Boomers yet REI has rarely incorporated older models before these TV ads appeared.

Brent’s been consistently vocal about how REI’s marketing has missed the mark with Baby Boomers.  We’d love to hear if there are any outdoor gear companies out there you feel hit the bullseye.  Share their names and/or links below.

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