By Chris Goddard, President, CGPR – FWV’s Greater Boston Office
This year, the sound of the crack of a bat and that Fenway Frank drowned in mustard has a special magic. The simple combination of a big green infield, the roar of the crowd, albeit at reduced capacity, and the cadence of a baseball game is a source of tremendous comfort – not only for the consummate baseball fans (like us who safely watched the Boston Red Sox opener from outfield seats near the Green Monster), but also for people just yearning for some sense of normal.
This spring, consumers are grinding towards what was familiar in ways we could not possibly imagine a year ago – revenge travel, “vaxications” and revenge shopping. Sweatpants sales are declining while retailers are seeing an uptick in high heels. Who knew we would long for high heels?
And yes, revenge travel and “vaxications” are definitely a thing. The TSA is reporting record travel and screenings indicating people are getting restless and taking that long-awaited vacation or spring break.
Blake Morgan, a senior contributor at Forbes, recently published a story on the topic, and the lede says it all: “In A Post-Covid World Customers Will Be Revenge Shopping.” According to Morgan: “After a full year of stay-at-home orders, quarantines and business closures and restrictions, consumers have a lot of pent-up emotions. Their solution? Revenge shopping.
As the name implies, revenge shopping is consumers making up for lost time with an increase in spending. And many companies are using it as a lifeline to boost sales and keep their businesses afloat.”
Outdoor devotees and those new to the outdoors are running towards the woods looking for hiking boots and waterproof breathable jackets, while others are in search for bicycles and kayaks (woefully hard to find and likely on backorder). The outdoors were our escape this past year – the best possible social distancing for the heart and soul – which is good news for many retailers specializing in outdoor products.
Large big box retailers continue to circle the wagons on the outdoor industry because they know a good thing when they see it. Walmart, via Moosejaw, introduced Allforth and Lithic, outdoor gear and apparel brands with inclusive sizing and lower price points. Kohl’s has announced it will start carrying the Eddie Bauer brand at hundreds of stores and online beginning this fall.
The new administration is fueling the hope of the ebike industry by advocating for alternative modes of transportation. Rad Power Bikes, the largest ebike company in the U.S., experienced 323% year-over-year growth as of March 2021.
And it isn’t just outdoor brands. The New York Times’ fashion editor Vanessa Friedman’s recent article on spring fashion points to the world’s iconic fashion designers trying hard to be our cheerleaders and noting for Ralph Lauren, “Indeed, Mr. Lauren is not the only designer who thinks we’re due for some dancing and delight – and it’s time we got our closets ready.” And trying to get into the summer mindset, Louis Vuitton has opened a women’s summer collection pop-up in Soho. This will be Louis Vuitton’s only summer pop-up in New York, running through the end of May. Wow? A pop-up? Hallelujah!
Goldman Sachs recently predicted an economic boom as the country recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic, and according to The Wall Street Journal, “Consumer confidence in the U.S. rose in March  to its highest level since the pandemic started a year ago, with Americans expressing more optimism about business and labor-market conditions in the coming months.”
For outdoor, fashion and retail brands, now is the time to leverage “revenge shopping” and up the ante – not only with regard to communicating directly to consumers, but also tapping into the media landscape that is looking for fresh content that appeals to viewers and readers. Consider developing and sharing content on how to get involved in a new activity on your website, blog or social media platforms – for example, how to choose the right apparel or gear for a hike, or how to pack the car for a trip to your local park. For media, provide insights on participation trends or other timely news to reinforce category leadership.
As we seek out the comfort of the familiar, there is no way you can beat the magic of a Fenway Frank and the distinct crazy energy of a Boston Red Sox Opening Day Crowd.
And for that, we are most grateful.