This is a topic that could use some airing out, and the time is right with the recent announcement that Burton has joined the show with a sizeable presence. There seems to be a prevailing impression that OR has been the windfall recipient of dozens of brands whom, when ASR went dormant, suddenly found themselves with nothing to do in January and August and in need of a trade show to spend their lonely marketing dollars. Absurd? The launch of a new fashion show in L.A. (Santa Monica) that parallels the Agenda format indicates more than one person thinks there is a void to fill.
But that's L.A. - a better place for Outdoor than most think, but that's a tale for different thread.
There are two main points to remember when engaging in the 'actions sports at OR' discussion that is rising in the industry;
1) 'Action Sports' has been part of the fabric of OR for decades - Brands like Dakine, Reef, Patagonia, Smith and Hobie all have the AS/surf lifestyle at their core, over two decades at the show, and are staples in the industry. Quiksilver, Surftech, Havaianas, IPath, and other core AS brands have been at OR over 5 years... in hargoods, footwear, accessories and apparel. What I've seen over the years here is more like a "Natural Progression' than a recent trendline or explosion. That said, the full suite of 'Action Sports' is not represented at OR, for example BMX or Moto elements. The 'Natural' part speaks to the foundation of the activity... which brings us to the second main point when considering the topic.
2) A Shared Platform - all Action Sports happen outdoors on the natural (and public) land and waterscapes we in active outdoor use... therefore the resource at our very foundation is shared. Whether we are talking the waves at Trestles, or the single-track trails at the Syncline, or the gazillion flatwater lakes perfect for kayakfishing and wakeboarding, we share the same access platform. This is why BMX, Moto and even resort skiing/boarding, is somewhat less relevant to the world of OR than Surf, backcountry boarding and Mountain Biking. It doesn't happen on a primarily open space platform; when it does, it's on modified land and is more closely tied to the real estate and development business. Is that important? It definitely affects the cost of access, for one thing.
So what are your thoughts on the situation as traditional Action Sports comes into Active Outdoor (or 'Action Outdoors' as Andy Palmer calls it)? Is this a new opportunity for differentiation among specialty retailers, a power play by the big action sports brands to dominate the Universe, a desparate act by a sector afraid of becoming irrelevant, or the 'natural progression' mentioned above? Would love to hear your thoughts.