Black People Buy a Lot of Outdoor Brands – But, You Wouldn’t Know That From the C-Suites and Marketing Campaigns
African American Nature and Parks Experience founder Teresa Baker talked with Charles Ellison, host of WURD’s Reality Check, about efforts to diversify the nearly $500 billion outdoor retailer industry. Much of that industry – including brands such as Helly Hansen, REI, North Face, Eddie Bauer and others – generates enormous revenue from consumers of color, particularly African Americans who gravitate to those products, not to mention heavy Black purchasing of sport utility vehicles. There has also been a marked increase in Black interest and participation in outdoors activities. Yet, there are very few – if any – diverse individuals in the corporate boardrooms or marketing campaigns of these companies, much less acknowledgment that they thrive from Black and Brown purchase power.
Baker, along with other environmental justice activists, has launched the outdoor diversity pledge at #DiversifyOutdoors.
“The outdoor retail industry has power beyond what we see,” says Baker. “That’s the reason why I aimed my target at the outdoor retail industry. This sector includes skiing, hiking, biking, climbing or any sector touching the outdoors.”
“You see us walking around with our North Face gear and our Timberland boots and we don’t realize that’s an outdoor brand. So, when we look at marketing campaigns and social media feeds and we don’t see people of color represented, that’s a problem. The problem is that when in 15 years people of color are the number one demographic in this country, and we don’t care about the environment, we’re in trouble. We need to start to engage these communities to re-establish connection. Our faces must be seen so we’re part of the solution of environmental protection.”