We all have that friend, or perhaps we’re that person. You know the one, they’re always pestering you to go hiking at 6am on a weekend when you would rather sleep in and drink coffee in a comfortable chair. If you have this friend, or happen to be that person, you most likely are an Outdoor Native and are defined as such by the companies who want to sell you goods and services. So, what exactly is a consumer lifestyle? Well, according to our lesson; “A consumer’s lifestyle refers to the ways he or she chooses to spend time and money and how these consumption choices reflect his or her values and tastes(Reed College of Media, 2018)”.

With this in mind, the Outdoor Native extends far beyond being that person who enjoys early weekend rises. Let’s take a look at some other factors and how IMC specialists and businesses cater to those who eschew the relaxing morning for a walk in the woods.

First, to truly understand the Outdoor Native, we must understand what goes into defining a lifestyle and how it reflects their social identity. Of course, the definition from the lesson featured above does a pretty good job at defining a lifestyle in the simplest of terms, so let’s move into how a lifestyle reflects one in a holistic manner. Essentially, lifestyle defines the pattern in which one spends their time, money, and what is important to them(Solomon, 2013). As an example, we wouldn’t expect someone committed to an outdoor lifestyle to be spending a bulk of their disposable income on video games and accessories for themselves.

The Psychographics of the Outdoor Native

According to the Outdoor Industry Association; “Getting outside has always been an important lifestyle choice for The Outdoor Native and will continue to be in the future. They are motivated by enjoyment and the experience. Although they want to improve their own performance, they are less concerned about competition than their counterparts, The Achiever(Outdoor Industry Association, 2015)”. With that in mind, the Outdoor Native is driven directly by their desire to be outdoors at any chance they can get. Going further, the Outdoor Native is highly engaged in the outdoor lifestyle and is often advocating for getting outdoors to both their families and social circles. With being outdoors so dear to them, their purchasing habits will parallel this desire. For example, they may choose a product for its function and durability over fashion appeal. Digging deeper, along with their advocacy for the outdoors they are likely to make product recommendations to those looking to venture outdoors.

The Social Identity of the Outdoor Native

Chances are you can identify an outdoor native through their apparel. While many outdoor lifestyle brands have become fashionable in recent years, the Outdoor Native can be picked out of a crowd through theirs being well worn. Additionally, the vehicle they drive is often dictated by their love of the outdoors. Most often it is something that gets good fuel mileage, yet can be taken offroad when needed. Going further, their food choices also reflect their lifestyle.

Greenvests and Gearheads-Marketing to Outdoor Natives

Outdoor Natives tend to go further out into “the wild” than many of the population. It is for this reason that they demand equipment and products that work, will last, and from a reputable manufacturer. This is why two major outdoor product retailers have taken customer service a step beyond they typical sports retailer. Walk into any REI and a friendly employee in a green vest will greet you. No, this isn’t just some employee. A green vest means that they know their stuff and are committed to making REI the first place you think of for your outdoor gear. Exactly what an Outdoor Native needs, someone who knows whether those trekking poles can double as a tent pole, or if they have a flip lock or twist adjustment. Don’t feel like leaving the house before that long trek? That’s fine, log onto the Backcountry site and you will be greeted by a pop up window inviting you to chat with a Gearhead. What’s a Gearhead? It’s someone selected to chat with you for their knowledge of the product(s) that you’re browsing. They even take it a step further and assign you a personal Gearhead after you make a purchase. My personal Gearhead is Evan S.. Both of these are examples of retailers taking the time to understand the Outdoor Native and their need for a product that works. Why? Because it’s hard to make a return or exchange when you’re 100 miles from the nearest sign of civilization!


7 Reasons Nick Offerman Missed His True Calling as an REI Green Vest. (2017, January 03). Retrieved from https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/7-reasons-nick-offerman-missed-his-true-calling-as-an-rei-green-vest

Consumer Insights. (2015). Retrieved from https://outdoorindustry.org/consumer-insights/

ONE-ON-ONE ADVICE BASED ON REAL-WORLD EXPERIENCE. (2018). Retrieved from https://www.backcountry.com/Store/community/gearheadLanding.jsp

Reed College of Media, West Virginia University. (2018). Week 3 Lesson: The Self, Personality & Psychographics, Social Class & Lifestyles, Managing Private-Sector Ethnography & Clients [Online]. Retrieved from https://ecampus.wvu.edu/webapps/blackboard

Solomon, M. (2013). Consumer behavior: Buying, having, and being, student value edition (10th ed.). Boston, MA: Pearson.


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