Online Demand for Camping and Outdoor Gear Remains Well Above Pre-Pandemic Levels

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

Since we’re data fanatics and love uncovering new ecommerce trends, we thought the lead up to Memorial Day would be a perfect time to take a closer look at online demand for outdoor and camping equipment changed throughout the pandemic. Specifically, we wanted to find out:

  • When do people shop online for outdoor and camping gear?
  • After spending spring in lockdown, did more Americans turn to the great outdoors in the first year of the pandemic?
  • Which camping supplies saw a surge in demand in 2021, and which didn’t?
  • What are the trends heading into summer 2022?

To find the answers to these questions, our data science team analyzed market demand for outdoor and camping gear on Amazon over the past three years. A few of our key findings:

  • Demand for outdoor and camping supplies is highest during spring and early summer
  • COVID-19 had a huge impact on demand for outdoor and camping gear, but that demand has shifted as the pandemic has lingered
  • “Emergency supply” gear saw extreme surges in demand in Spring 2020
    • Freeze-dried food demand increased by 303% year over year in March and April 2020 vs 2019
  • Demand for traditional camping gear hit all-time highs in 2021
  • 2022 has seen demand stay well above pre-pandemic levels but dip behind 2021’s highs, except for certain types of backpacking gear

Let’s dig into the data.

2021 Camping and Outdoor Equipment Demand

Before diving deeper into the data to understand COVID-19’s impact, let’s take a quick look at 2021 to see when market demand was at its highest and lowest throughout the year.

Weekly demand for outdoor and camping supplies looks just about how you’d expect. It climbs steadily throughout the first half of the year, peaking just after Memorial Day through the week of June 13. Then it steadily drops before receiving a mild end of the year boost driven by the holiday shopping season.

But there’s no question that the past couple of years have seen Americans change the way they vacation and recreate thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, so let’s compare demand over the past few years:

In 2020 we see a clear impact during the early months of lockdown. Demand dipped in April 2020, as Americans were sheltering in place. It recovered quickly, though, surging ahead of 2019’s levels in May and staying there for the rest of the year.

2021 saw demand reach all-time highs, suggesting that even in year 2 of the pandemic, with more travel options at their disposal, many Americans clearly opted for open spaces and more rugged adventures for their summer vacations.

Demand has remained high in 2022, matching 2021’s levels in the first few months of the year– a trend to keep an eye on as we enter the summer surge.

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

Demand for Top Camping and Outdoor Gear

The charts above were a combined view of over 80 different types of camping and outdoor equipment. Here’s a breakdown of total demand for the top 30 specific types of equipment in 2021:

This gives us a good idea as to which types of categories see a lot of demand, and quickly shed even more light on how COVID-19 has impacted the outdoor industry.

Let’s start this time with the first year of the pandemic 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 and the bottom 20 by largest decreases in demand:

It’s pretty clear that there was a certain “survivalist” element driving a significant portion of the demand for outdoor and camping gear during the first year of the pandemic.

Freeze-dried food saw demand more than double than in 2019. Camping showers saw the next largest increase, while teen and young adult camping & outdoor activities saw the third largest increase suggesting a lot of families were looking for new ways to vacation.

Other emergency essentials like fire starters, chemical water treaters, and purifiers, also saw healthy year-over-year increases.

The categories that saw a drop in demand included more standard camping fare like water flasks, pillows, sleeping bags, and maps.

For an even clearer indication of this trend, let’s examine March and April of 2020 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:

Year over year, there is an even more pronounced surge in demand for “emergency” outdoor equipment. Demand for freeze-dried food was up an astonishing 303% in March and April 2020 compared to the same months in 2019.

Outdoor activities for teenagers and young adults saw demand surge by over 220%, but the rest of the top performing categories primarily consisted of water treatment, storage supplies, and other emergency supplies.

Traditional camping supplies, meanwhile, saw demand drop significantly during those first couple of months:

Pandemic Year 2: Traditional Camping Gear Demand Bounced Back Big

We’ve already seen clear evidence that outdoor and camping gear was more popular than ever last year, but let’s see which categories benefited the most.

People were far more interested in being adventurous during the colder months in 2021 than in 2020, as hand warmers and foot warmers saw the biggest year-over-year increases.

From there we see that while 2020 was the year of “emergency” camping supplies, 2021 saw a lot more people simply wanting to get out and spend their vacations simply camping. Demand for cooler accessories, fuel bottles, pads, chairs, and all the classic camping gear saw the biggest year-over-year boosts.

The largest drop in demand was teen and young adult activities, which, in 2020, had received a particularly large early-pandemic boost.

Other emergency items like freeze-dried food, fire starters, and purifiers, also all saw demand drop.

However, when we take a long term view at some of those terms, we can see that 2021 wasn’t necessarily a “down” year for those items, 2020 was just that big.

Freeze-dried food had greater demand for most months in 2021, it’s just that the early months of the pandemic brought demand to extreme heights.

Interestingly, 2022 has seen demand for freeze-dried food outpacing 2021 so far. Let’s take a closer look at some of the most popular outdoor and camping categories to see if we can forecast what kind of camping year 2022 is shaping up to be.

As Americans started hitting the road again after a socially distant year, tents and shelters had a huge summer in 2020 and an even bigger spring and summer in 2021. 2022 has seen demand trail slightly behind 2021’s highs, but it’s still well ahead of 2019’s pre-pandemic levels.

It’s a similar story when we examine demand for camping furniture. Spring 2021 was absolutely huge, and spring 2022 suggests demand is still quite high.

2022 Outdoor and Camping Gear Demand

So, which types of outdoor and camping gear are doing particularly well so far in 2022? Here are the categories that have seen demand go up in spring of 2022 compared to 2021:

Foot warmers saw demand leap by 81% in March and April of 2022 compared to the same months last year. Water treatment and storage have also all started this year quite strong, as have sleeping bag stuff sacks, bivy sacks, and camping soap and shampoo.

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. There is early evidence that while 2021 was the year of traditional camping, 2022 might be a particularly big year for long backpacking trips and more adventurous outings.

It’s definitely something we’ll keep an eye on this Memorial Day weekend and throughout the summer.

A Takeaway for Brands

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, bundle offerings, and marketing strategy.

To stay up to date on consumer behavior and ecommerce news, info, and trend analyses, be sure to subscribe to Pattern Insights.

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, we’d love to get in touch.

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MAP Pricing vs MSRP: What's the Difference? (blog header)
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MAP Pricing vs. MSRP: What's the Difference?

“MAP” and “MSRP” are two of hundreds of acronyms floating around in the world of ecommerce, and they’re two of the easiest to confuse and misunderstand. While MAP and MSRP do play similar roles, they also have key differences that can work in tandem to support and protect your brand on marketplaces.

So what are MAP and MSRP and why do they matter? Here’s what you should know: 

What is MAP?

MAP (or minimum advertised price) is the minimum amount that a manufacturer or wholesaler recommends resellers advertise their products for. MAP pricing policy is essentially a one-way boundary you set to protect your brand, protect the margins of your resellers, and maintain fair competition across all of your distribution channels.

When setting a MAP policy strategy, remember the important things you’ll want your MAP policy to do are:

  1. Protect the interests of your brick-and-mortar resellers, giving them the margins they need to display and carry your product as well as sell it.

  2. Stay small enough that it discourages resellers from heavily discounting your products and keeps competition fair.

  3. Accurately reflects on the brand image and value you want to reflect.

“Advertising” and “recommends” are the key terms here. MAP policies should only recommend the price that is advertised online or in-store for a product, not attempt to fix the actual selling price of the product—that’s illegal—or recommend the actual selling price. That’s MSRP’s job.

Benefits of MAP

MAP not only keeps competition fair, but allows you to control your brand identity and promote consumer trust of your product and brand. Here are some of the benefits of having MAP policies:

  • Better brand protection and control

  • Creates a level playing field for retailers

  • Reduces bad customer experiences

  • Provides an accurate performance analysis

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MAP?

It’s critical that MAP policies are structured in such a way that a brand avoids violating anti-trust laws. One way brands can effectively enforce MAP is by simply monitoring online product prices across digital channels to identify fluctuations in the market. 

At Pattern, we help brands not only develop a MAP policy, but also enforce it. Enforcing MAP policies and gaining marketplace control includes finding unauthorized sellers, which Pattern’s data finds. Once Pattern finds the unauthorized sellers, Vorys eControls (Pattern’s legal partner) steps in and handles the takedowns of unauthorized sellers, continuous enforcement of brand management, and reseller policy enforcements.

What is MSRP?

MSRP (or manufacturer’s suggested retail price) is how manufacturers standardize pricing across their resale channel and determine what price is fair for their product. The key difference between MSRP and MAP is that MSRP is the actual price manufacturers set and recommend retailers charge for their goods while MAP is the advertised price. 

MSRP doesn’t necessarily have to be the final price of a product—it’s most often a starting price—but it is determined by taking into account all of the costs associated with the distribution and manufacturing process for a product and the margin amount resellers need in order to make a profit. MSRP also establishes value. For example, if a brand wants to build a premium brand, the MSRP can reflect the actual or perceived value of their product.

Benefits of MSRP

Setting up an MSRP for your product includes the following benefits:

  • Maintains brand equity

  • Establishes brand and product value

  • Standardizes costs across marketplaces

How Can Brands Effectively Enforce MSRP?

Like MAP pricing, MSRP has to be set up as a one-way policy and not an agreement between a manufacturer and a reseller to avoid landing a manufacturer on the wrong side of the law. It’s a recommendation, not a contractual bind. As mentioned for MAP policy, Pattern helps brands effectively enforce MSRP with our proprietary data and expertise to protect their brand. 

How Do MAP and MSRP Work Together?

MAP and MSRP have different applications that may prove useful in different scenarios. For example, MAP policies are typically more useful in marketplaces where competition is fierce and price erosion happens easily if sellers are left unchecked. Ideally, however, MAP and MSRP are a dynamic duo that work together to serve the interests of your brand, support your resale channels, and protect your resellers.

Setting an MSRP establishes value for your product and lets your resellers know you’re serious about controlling channel conflict, maintaining pricing equity, and protecting their margins so they’re more confident setting pricing at the MSRP level.

MAP is the second half of setting a pricing policy. Setting a MAP price for your product, in addition to an MSRP, further standardizes pricing across your resale channel and gives legitimate resellers a fair environment to compete in while setting boundaries against unauthorized sellers harming your brand.

MAP combined with MSRP creates a stronger level of brand protection, giving your brand more sustainable, profitable growth.

Maintain Brand Control With Pattern

MAP policies can be tricky to draft, because there are so many legal lines to tiptoe around and so much nuance that goes into pricing. They can also be tricky to enforce without the right tools. At Pattern, partnered with Vorys, we have the tools and resources to help you maintain brand control on all marketplaces. 

As an ecommerce accelerator, Pattern can help you identify MAP violators and regain control of your brand online so that your image and your resellers are protected. To learn more, contact us today.

Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days
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Athlon Optics Walmart.com Launch Has Record Setting Sales within 3 Days

Athlon Optics sells scopes and other optical accessories like binoculars for anyone who may be hunting, shooting recreationally, or competing.  After achieving significant success on Amazon, the brand wanted to launch on Walmart. As a growing marketplace with huge growth forecasts, Athlon saw their competitors already staking claim on walmart.com and saw opportunities for increasing their sales.

As a prestigious brand in its category, with loyal consumers, Athlon does so much with very few resources. With less than twenty employees in the entire company, managing everything from customer service to product development, their ecommerce team needed support to scale to a new marketplace.  And, they needed a partner who had a relationship with and deep understanding of walmart.com to accelerate their growth. Pattern is a one-stop shop for Athlon, providing the resources and expertise, so Athlon could also save budget and stop outsourcing so many different aspects of their marketplace business.

Athlon Optics Prepares for a Seamless Launch

Sometimes brands who transition from 1P to 3P with Pattern have no proprietary sales, marketplace data or content such as product images, video, or optimized copy. These circumstances create a more hands on transition for Pattern and may interfere with launch expectations. 

But Athlon was the consummate partner and overly prepared to transition to 3P– buttoned up, organized, and ready to take on walmart.com’s list of launch needs. Athlon provided all the required assets on time and was very organized.  The images were shot, formatted, and categorized as A+ content that Pattern ported over.  This process dramatically reduced wait times and lag times within the platform.  Plus, since the content was optimized for marketplaces, all images, copy, and listing information uploaded in the first pass. 

Pattern’s Walmart Expertise Leads to Success

But the content worked because of Pattern’s resources and marketplace expertise.  Pattern provided Athlon with a very clear outline of needs and expectations for seamless launch and this process has become a playbook for other brands on walmart.com.  The team’s mutual partnership and Pattern’s diligent follow up with and detailed attention to Walmart processes and logistics prevented Athlon from getting lost in the weeds. 

Three Days is All it Takes

The successful, thorough, and quick transition to 3P with Pattern secured Athlon most likely the fastest ramp-up periods for any brand on Walmart.com.  

Together we achieved success such as:

  • 'Best in class' turnaround–98% faster onboarding than average brand on Walmart.

  • First sale within the first week of landing at Walmart. 

    • Unprecedented turnaround considering the ramp up usually needed to gain momentum and traction with reviews on Walmart. 

  • Exceeded initial first month growth projection by 34%.

Athlon was so impressed by the ease and simplicity of its launch and execution on Walmart that the brand wants to grow our 3P relationship with other marketplaces such as Amazon Canada and Target+.

And, in the meantime, look out for Athlon Optics in Walmart Deal Days in 2022.  A huge win for any brand tied to organic advertising and new traffic opportunities across all media.

Pattern Helps Brands Expand Marketplaces 

Pattern has the 3P partner experience and deep expertise on Walmart and other global marketplaces to help a brand expand their footprint to maintain sales momentum and a competitive edge. Pattern, an ecommerce accelerator, takes on the responsibility of your stock and provides the expert resources needed to successfully launch and continue to grow your revenue on global marketplaces. 

Learn more about Pattern’s expertise and partnership on Walmart.  Contact us today.

Amazon A+ Content
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Amazon A+ and Premium A+ Content: Pros and Cons Brands Need to Know

Long gone are the days when Amazon listings were limited to a simple product description, five bullet points, and eight pictures. As the platform, and number of sellers, has grown, sellers have had to be more and more strategic and eye-catching to increase traffic and conversions on their listings.

Brands on Amazon have plenty of attractive options available to design their Amazon storefront, which reside in two of Amazon’s content tools: A+ Content and Premium A+ Content (or  A++ Content).

Here’s the pros and cons of brands using A+ Content vs. Premium A+ Content:

What is Amazon A+ Content?

Amazon A+ Content is a standard feature available to all Amazon Sellers and free as one of the many benefits of Amazon Brand Registry. 

With A+ Content, a product listing can have more than a plain text description and standard photo reel–it can include high quality multimedia photos and videos alongside eye-catching information to share the product story, and not just the product appearance.

Some noteworthy features that Amazon A+ offers are:

  • Multiple, varied images of a product

  • Strategically concise introduction

  • Video

  • Bullet points

  • 360° product views

  • Matrix comparison charts

  • “What’s in the box” section

What is Amazon Premium A+ Content?

Amazon Premium A+ Content, or Amazon A++ Content, is a tool that goes a level beyond basic A+ Content, giving brands the ability to showcase their product’s most important features and benefits with a modern, visually appealing structure. 

In August 2022, Amazon announced Premium A+ would be available on Seller Central for free usage during a promotional period. Previously, Premium A+ content was available only by invite for brands using Vendor Central and could cost anywhere from $250K and $500K per product. 

With Premium A+ content, a brand visually communicates using imagery and video, and relies much less on text due to strict character limits for product descriptions. According to Amazon, implementing Premium A+ content can increase your sales by 20%.

For the first time ever, Premium A+ expands the usable real estate of the page, using the entire width of the screen for a sophisticated and modern feel.

Some noteworthy features that Premium A+ offers are:

  • Video

  • Full-width imagery

  • More space

  • Clickable Q&A

  • Interactive comparison charts

  • Carousel modules

  • Mobile-friendly and voice-friendly product pages

  • Testimonials

Pros and Cons of Amazon A+ vs. Premium A+ Content

Although their purposes are similar, there are some key differences between A+ Content and Premium A+ Content. Here are the pros and cons for each tool:

Basic Amazon A+ Content

Pros:

  • Free and unlimited use for all Vendors.

  • An effective tool to enhance customer experience and product listings.

Cons:

  • Less features than Premium A+.

  • It's not as visually appealing as Premium A+.

Premium A+ Content

Pros:

  • There are 16 extra modules to choose from that are media-rich and make an impact.

  • You have two more available module slots than Basic Amazon A+.

  • Overall, there are more possibilities for hyper-engaging content.

  • You can expect a sales rate increase of up to 20% with Premium A+, according to Amazon.

Cons:

  • Amazon has positioned Premium A+ content as more of an exclusive tool, requiring eligibility based on past content to qualify for Premium A+ content. 

  • Character limit restrictions are more strict than Basic Amazon A+.

Elevate Your Amazon Content with Pattern

Ultimately, both of these tools exist to help you and your brand provide customers the best online shopping experience possible. Although Premium A+ offers plenty of exciting new options for enhancing customers’ buying experience, it may not be for everyone. Optimizing your Amazon listing with A+ or Premium A+ Content can provide the best opportunity to build a strong reputation for better brand-recognition and customer affinity. 

Our creative and digital marketing experts at Pattern can help brands use A+ Content and Premium A+ Content to increase conversions and give buyers an amazing experience.

Learn how Pattern can help you increase conversions on Amazon. Contact us