Analysis: How COVID-19 Impacted Camping and Outdoor Equipment Sales Online

The long weekend that comes with Memorial Day, observed on the last Monday of May, makes it a perfect time to kick off the annual “outdoors” season with a backyard cookout, a visit to a nearby cemetery or memorial, or to hit the road for the first big camping trip of the year.

After the unprecedented year that was 2020, Memorial Day weekend 2021 is shaping up to be particularly meaningful. And because we love diving deep into data and uncovering new ecommerce trends, we thought this would be a perfect time to take a closer look at online sales for outdoor and camping equipment.

We especially wanted to see what impact COVID-19 had on outdoor and camping supplies. Did Americans turn to the great outdoors after spending the spring in lockdown? Which types of camping supplies saw a surge in demand and which ones didn’t? And how do trends look so far in 2021?

Our data science team analyzed market demand for outdoor and camping supplies from 2019 through March 2021 to find out the answer to these questions and more.

How much market demand was there for camping and outdoor equipment in 2020?

Before diving deep into the data to understand COVID-19’s impact on market demand for camping equipment, we wanted to start with a broad look back at 2020.

The chart above shows the monthly demand for all camping and outdoor equipment for each week of last year. As you can see, demand dipped in March and April immediately following initial lockdowns. Demand then increased steadily, peaking in May and remaining steady over the summer months before dipping in fall and winter.

This is certainly compelling early evidence that COVID-19 brought an initial dip in demand in the early months of lockdown before bringing a surge in late spring, but these might also be typical seasonal trends for outdoor gear in a given year. So let’s dive deeper by comparing 2020 to 2019:

Demand for camping and outdoor equipment was actually higher for every month of 2020 than it was in 2019, but as we expected, in a normal year, demand rises each month from January through July. In 2020, however, demand was flat in March and dipped in April.

To even better understand how COVID-19 impacted demand for camping and outdoor equipment, let’s dive even deeper into the data by examining demand for specific types of camping gear.

Market demand surged in 2020 for outdoor and camping equipment most associated with emergency preparedness

The charts above were a combined view of over 90 different types of camping and outdoor equipment. Here’s a breakdown of total demand for the top 20 specific types of equipment by total demand in 2020:

As you can see, the types and categories in our analysis range from more specific types of equipment like “lights & lanterns” or “folding knives” to broader categories like “safety & survival equipment.” But diving deeper into these 90 categories should quickly shed even more light on how COVID-19 has impacted the outdoor industry.

We started first by comparing total demand for each category in 2020 to total demand in 2019. Here’s what we found, starting with the top 20 categories by largest increase in demand:

Unsurprisingly, 2020 saw a sharp increase in market demand for the types of outdoor equipment most associated with emergency preparedness. Freeze-dried food was up by a whopping 147% in 2020 compared to 2019.

Water storage and filtration items, meanwhile, accounted for the second, third, fourth, and sixth largest increases in demand. Items like signal whistles, emergency fire starters, shelters, and showers also point to the uncertainty and anxiety that came with last year’s pandemic. (Also notable, of course, is the 57% bump that hygiene & sanitation products received).

For an even clearer indication of this trend, let’s examine March and April specifically. As you recall in the previous section, combined demand dipped compared to 2019. Here are the top categories where that wasn’t the case:

Here you can see an even more pronounced surge in demand for “emergency” outdoor equipment. Demand for freeze-dried food was up an astonishing 320% in March and April 2020 compared to the same months in 2019.

Outdoor activities for teenagers and young adults saw demand surge by over 200%, but the rest of the top performing categories primarily consisted of water treatment and storage supplies and other emergency supplies.

To better illustrate just how much demand COVID generated for emergency supplies, here’s a closer look at monthly demand for freeze-dried food in 2020 vs 2019:

And now a similar view for water filtration and purification equipment categories:

“Emergency” gear clearly received a huge surge in demand, but were there any types of camping gear that actually saw demand drop in 2020? Let’s find out.

Demand for camping essentials dropped during the height of the pandemic

Let’s start by looking at the bottom 20 performers from our total 2020 demand vs total 2019 demand comparison:

Only six of the categories in our analysis saw a year-over-year decrease in demand in 2020, half of which were items specific to cold weather camping, suggesting that people were perhaps more hesitant to venture outdoors last winter.

Even those six categories saw only modest decreases in total market demand, though. Sleeping bag liners and hand/foot warmers saw the largest total decrease at only -10% year-over-year.

This suggests that it wasn’t only “emergency” supplies that received a bump, but that Americans were more likely to see the refuge of the wilderness last year as other types of travel saw more significant restrictions and risk.

Let’s examine March and April once more to see which categories were most likely to be negatively impacted during the height of lockdown:

March and April brought a surge for emergency outdoor gear, but most traditional “excursion”-type gear didn’t fare so well. Over a quarter of the 90+ categories in our analysis saw market demand drop in March and April 2020 compared to March and April 2019.

Sun shelters saw the biggest decline in demand, while essential camping items like sleeping bags, pads, tents, and pillows all also saw demand drop. It’s clear that during the height of the pandemic, people were far more focused on buying gear to survive a then-unknown future than planning a nice lakeside family camping trip.

To better illustrate the trend, here’s the monthly comparison for sleeping bags:

Demand dropped sharply in March and April, and while it did recover in May and June, it lagged behind 2019’s until fall. In December, however, demand once again fell behind 2019.

Coolers, another quintessential “let’s get out and have a good time” type of camping item really illustrates the shifting impact of COVID-19 on demand:

March and April 2020 saw demand for coolers drop instead of experiencing their typical upward trend as the weather starts to warm. But by June demand had already rebounded to above 2019 figures, where they mostly remained for the rest of the year.

Demand for traditional camping gear is on track to be especially high in 2021

Finally, let’s take a look at 2021 so far. As of the end of March, demand for camping gear this year has been trending far ahead of both 2019 and 2020.

With vaccination rising and casecounts falling, we expect to see demand to continue to trend upward as the camping season kicks into full gear and Americans start hitting the road again after a socially distant year.

This idea is strengthened when we compare monthly demand by category type in March of 2021 to March of 2019:

Demand for each of the top 20 categories in our analysis was up by more than 125% in March of this year compared to March of 2019.

Hydration and filtration products as well as canteens remained quite popular this year, but unlike last spring, it’s not just emergency gear that’s seeing huge increases in demand. Camping plates, lanterns, and sleeping bag compression sacks all saw demand increase by more than 200% as well.

In fact, only two categories in our analysis: sleeping bags (-11%) and sleeping bag expanders (-2%), saw demand drop in March of this year compared to 2021.

For an especially clear look at how demand for camping supplies is trending upward, let’s close by looking at demand for tents:

If we take the demand for tents as a substitute for demand to “go camping,” then campgrounds might be busier this Memorial Day weekend than they have been in many, many years.

A lesson for brands

Camping and outdoor gear is popular year round, but our data shows that COVID-19 has had a much larger impact on some types of gear than others.

Understanding the factors that influence consumer behavior can help brands better understand how to forecast demand for their products on online marketplaces, and even inform product design and marketing strategy.

For example, we may continue to see demand for more traditional camping gear continue to surge, while demand for emergency preparedness gear may drop precipitously. To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights on the right.

And, if you’d like to learn more about how you can best leverage our data to help your brand win online, holiday or not, schedule a demo today.

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Sept 27, 2022

Global Ecommerce Weekly News: 27th September 2022

Get up to date with this week's ecommerce headlines from around the globe. --- Amazon News --- Amazon drives renewable energy push with 71 new projects Amazon is planning to add 2.7 gigawatts of clean energy capacity through a couple of new projects as the company attempts to use 100% renewable energy by 2025. The ecommerce business will soon have a total of 329 renewable energy projects, generating 50,000 gigawatt hours of clean energy, which is equivalent to powering 4.6 million US homes every year. [Read more on Reuters]( Amazon launches Prime Early Access Sale Amazon is launching a new 2-day shopping event for its Prime members only, beginning on the 11th of October. Across 15 countries, Prime customers will have access to the shopping event, with thousands of deals on offer globall, ranging from fashion to electronics to essentials. The event has the purpose of giving Prime users the chance to spread the cost of items over the winter months, 6 weeks ahead of Black Friday. [Read more on Charged Retail]( --- Other Marketplace News --- Shopify unveils new localisation tool Shopify is launching a new localisation tool, called Translate & Adapt, which works with Shopify Markets to offer localisation for sellers who are looking to expand into new markets. The tool translates a user’s online store into different languages, including product pages and information pages. Merchants are also able to create different shipping terms for each market using the new tool, which allows international expansion and offers a more localised consumer experience, unveiling new potential. [Read more on Ecommerce News]( Etsy is set to invest hundreds of millions into its marketing platform Etsy CEO claims that the company is on route to spend more than $570 million USD on marketing this year. Even during a time of macroeconomic pressure, inflation and rising interest rates, the company is preparing itself and its sellers for the upcoming holiday season and is focused on retaining interest from buyers. [Read more on Yahoo News]( --- Other Ecommerce News --- Meta looks to cut costs by 10% in the coming months Meta employees are facing job redundancies as the company plans to cut its costs by 10% over the next few months. Meta reported a 22% YoY increase in costs and expenses, totalling over $20 billion USD. The cuts are expected to come in the form of job redundancies as a result of department reorganisations rather than formal layoffs. [Read more on Charged Retail]( DHL teams up with Quadient to offer smart locker deliveries in the UK DHL and tech company, Quadient, have partnered to offer smart lockers parcel pick-up throughout the UK. The new contactless, secure locker stations will give recipients more choice and flexibility to receive their parcels at a time and location best suited to them. The partnership plans to install 500 locker stations across the country by the end of 2022. [Read more on Charged Retail]( The online fashion market is set to be worth nearly $170 billion USD in 2025 The European online fashion retail market is set to grow 50% by 2025, with an online turnover of $170 billion USD, which is 33% of the retail branch’s total. Cross-border marketplaces prove to be the largest drivers of this growth, with online websites and apps like Vinted largely pushing the market’s online growth. Zalando recently became the largest cross-border fashion retailer/marketplace, responsible for 11.7% of the online market’s share. [Read more on Ecommerce News](
Sept 26, 2022

Top 5 Ways to Prepare for Peak with Google Ads

Peak season is almost upon us and with all signs pointing to it starting earlier than ever, with Christmas gifting searches now ramping up in August and September, it’s time to start preparing for peak. In this article, we’re sharing our top five tips for planning and preparing for peak season with Google Ads and the strategies required to get your Paid Search ready so you can drive success over this crucial period.

1. Go Early

In 2021, gifting search terms started increasing in popularity in August. The general trend is that people are looking, researching and weighing their options early, so it’s best to start your Paid activity early to ensure that you’re capturing that early research traffic. This will help drive revenue alongside aiding those consumers who are in their research phase.

From 2020 to 2021, spend during Cyber Week actually only rose 2% but in the weeks leading up to it, it increased by 16%. However, Cyber Week is still the biggest period during the latter half of the year, accounting for 23% of all online spend by consumers over peak. Being prepared and starting early will help you to maximise your time during this period.

2. Get Ready for Privacy Changes

 According to Google, 48% of global consumers have stopped buying or using a service due to privacy concerns. Privacy is front of mind when consumers are shopping online and we know that Google is phasing out 3rd party cookies in 2023. This is going to make it much harder to track users online and it’s something that brands need to think about this now – waiting isn’t an option.

From a Google Ads point of view, you want to ensure you have set up the Google Ads tag across your site and have enabled ‘Enhanced Conversions’, which ensures all conversions are tracked and allows you to monitor other actions such as ‘Add to Cart.’ This is relatively easy to set up, especially if you use ‘Google Tag Manager’.

It’s also vitally important that you build up your first-party data during this time as this is data you own and it can be used when targeting consumers that have provided your brand with their email address. Pattern’s own experience shows that by segmenting and using first-party data, you can see a 10% improvement in revenue and ROI.

3. Ensure Consumers Can Discover your Brand

A full-funnel approach is now more important than ever as consumers become more discerning and have more choices than ever of where to shop.

Pattern has seen success with Google Ads’ ‘Discovery Campaigns’ (image-based ads that appear on Google platforms such as Gmail and the Google app), which have driven success both from a traffic and revenue perspective.

The performance of these campaigns is significantly enhanced by adopting a segmented and nuanced approach to first-party data and incorporating these into your campaigns. Other options for a full-funnel approach include YouTube and testing bidding on keywords that are more representative of the research phase. (e.g. ‘best baby clothes’ for a baby clothes brand)

4. Get Moving with Performance Max

Earlier this year, Google announced that they were moving away from Smart Shopping and launched Performance Max. This is a new campaign type that incorporates features and placements from Smart Shopping but expands them onto other platforms such as Gmail but also alternative creative options, such as images and videos.

Since Google has already started automatically upgrading Smart Shopping campaigns to Performance Max, expect to see some fluctuations in the first 2 weeks following the switch over but results generally seem positive. We recommend upgrading sooner rather than later to limit any potential impact to peak period.

5. Flight Budgets Accordingly

Peak period will be even more competitive than in 2021 and you’ll need your budgets to support this period, we recommend boosting budgets in October to start capturing that early peak traffic. As we enter November and the Cyber Period, start early and make sure you are capturing those consumers looking for early bargains, ensuring you are being nimble in your optimisations and reacting to the data that you are seeing.

Overall, peak period is vital to help drive your sales and by preparing early, you will see strong results and drive success for your brand. If you want to discuss how your brand can navigate this next peak period, contact us to discuss your options with our performance team now.

Sept 20, 2022

4 Ecommerce Marketplace Consultant Must-Haves

Entering the ecommerce landscape is a huge undertaking for any brand—it usually requires a large investment in resources and expertise to really be successful. Any brand can quickly get in over their heads trying to navigate the nuances of SEO, fulfillment and logistics, distribution control, listing optimization, and meeting the numerous other requirements and administrative tasks to show up well on marketplaces. 

Unfortunately, because it’s so easy for third party, gray market, and unauthorized sellers to obtain and sell products online, many brands find themselves pressured to execute an ecommerce plan without the right resources to succeed on marketplaces and their other channels.

So, for brands looking to enter the ecommerce space or improve their current and future performance, it makes sense to partner with an ecommerce consultant.

Pattern’s global presence and proven success with hundreds of brands has allowed us to develop highly effective ecommerce consulting services. We can guide your brand to navigate issues both large and small in marketplaces worldwide. To maximize your ecommerce efforts, you’ll need to understand what an ecommerce consultant does and how to select one who drives the right value for your brand and products. 

What is an Ecommerce Consultant?

An ecommerce consultant is a specialist in the ecommerce space who can give you personalized guidance on how to market your products and grow their presence on digital marketplaces.

An ecommerce consultant should be able to analyze your brand, audience, category, opportunity, and current roadblocks and help you understand how to utilize your resources (or what resources are missing) to be most effective in capturing your opportunities in the ecommerce space.

Not sure how to evaluate a consultant? Here are 4 key attributes to look for as you make your choice.

1. Brand Obsession/Specialization/Passion

At Pattern, we prioritize brand obsession for a reason—we know that a brand-centered mindset makes a crucial difference in the outcomes and results our partners achieve. So in our experience, when you begin your search for an ecommerce consultant, it’s important to look for a partner who is specialized in ecommerce, invested in the product, and passionate about helping brands build and improve their strategies. Typically, this means finding someone that consults exclusively for ecommerce marketplaces, rather than choosing a consultant who offers many different services. 

2. Proven Results

It’s also important to avoid choosing a consulting partner who can’t deliver the right experience for your brand. The best indication of whether your potential consultant can do that is to review their history, data, and results with other brands. Ask if they’ve helped others in your selling category, if they’ve solved specific issues your brand is facing, and why they feel you are a good fit. The key is to leave the conversation feeling confident that you understand your consultants’ capabilities and whether or not they match up with your needs.

3. Wide Range of Marketplace Expertise

It’s best to pick a consultant who knows how to guide a brand onto and through multiple marketplaces worldwide. You’ll want to take a look at your long-term strategy and think about the regions and platforms you’re currently on and where you might want to take your brand in the future. If your consultant is truly great at what they do, they’ll be able to help you perform well enough with your current product roadmap that it’ll be a no-brainer to expand your presence at the right time.

4. Network of Resources

The most effective partnership with an ecommerce consultant will be able to give you both recommendations and point you to solutions for making those changes in your planning, processes, and execution. Your time and money is valuable, so you want to make sure that you’re spending it as efficiently as possible as you follow your consultant’s advice. So, before you commit to an ecommerce consultant, ask about the resources and concrete solutions they typically recommend to the brands they work with.

Achieve Your Ecommerce Goals With Pattern

Finding an ecommerce consultant that checks the boxes can be a difficult task. At Pattern, our entire focus and drive centers around giving brands the tools and resources they need to succeed on domestic and international ecommerce marketplaces. 

With over 100 global ecommerce consultants across 10 global offices, we have the right tools to partner with brands across the world to achieve better ecommerce success. We give specialized advice, then make sure our partners have all the adequate SEO, social media, CRM, Amazon multi-channel fulfillment services, and ecommerce outsourcing services they need.

Interested in ecommerce consulting services? Set up a call here to learn what Pattern can do for your brand on global marketplaces.