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Posted: April 24, 2014

Marketing To Outdoor Enthtusiasts

How Truck Accessory Manufacturers Are Reaching Truck Owners With An Outdoor Lifestyle

By TTM Staff

Manufacturers are always trying to find new markets for their products and expand their business. So it makes sense that cap and tonneau manufacturers are now focusing on the millions of truck owners who live the outdoor lifestyle. Most of these people have a truck or SUV that they use to head outdoors and pursue their passion for mountain biking, hiking, fishing, camping, kayaking, snowboarding and more. But the fact remains that their primary focus lies with their outdoor sport and lifestyle, not so much their pickup truck.

While statistics prove that truck enthusiasts love to go camping and enjoy other outdoor activities, outdoor lifestyle enthusiasts are not necessarily truck people. So the key to getting them interested in a cap, tonneau, cargo management system, or other accessory, is to apply it directly to how it will affect their lifestyle and activities.

Several manufacturers have gone to great lengths to talk and spend time with these people and gain valuable feedback. The result is a host of new products, or re-branded ones, that are designed to attract potential new outdoor lifestyle truck owners by incorporating features that can help them organize, access and safely store their outdoor gear.

Some manufacturers have even joined forces with rack companies like Yakima and Thule, to make it easy for outdoor enthusiasts to haul bikes, kayaks, skis and more with a specialized tonneau or cap. Others have incorporated unique storage systems that allow easy access and security for expensive gear and accessories.

But what does all this new influx of products mean for the truck accessory retailer? Just because manufacturers are targeting outdoor enthusiasts, doesn't mean retailers will begin to lose cap and tonneau customers to their nearest sporting goods and outdoor outfitter store. In fact, most of the manufactures are depending on retailers to attract these customers with some unique ideas.

To start, manufactures recommend asking your current customers questions about their outdoor activities and providing them with the right take-home materials. "Knowing your market and the lifestyle activities your customers love is only part of what you need," says Nils Forssman at Truck Covers U.S.A. "Keeping information in your store, such as brochures photos and testimonials, or leaving details with sports and hunting shops is an important part of hitting any market niche. Show customers what their truck can do to incorporate all of their special activities."

Updating some of your showroom displays can be another great way to attract outdoor lifestyle customers into your store. You can work with a local bike shop or outdoor outfitter to showcase a truck bed with a mountain bike, tent, kayak and more. "Use showroom displays, such as a cap with a roof-mounted rack equipped with a bicycle and storage box, to portray an outdoor activity,” says Bryan Baker at A.R.E.

"Offer special in-store events to demo a product or feature a local guest speaker on a particular sport," says Deb Truax at THI. "The goal is to build a relationship with these folks, and they will bring along their friends, family and other enthusiasts."

In addition to drawing people into your store, manufacturers also recommend taking an active role at shows where these types of customers gather. "To build brand awareness, exhibit at local hunting, fishing and camping shows," says Baker, who believes that you can display products in a way that showcases advantages to making their outdoor activities easier.  Shows are a great way to understand these customers, know how they're going to use their truck, and allow you to see what products would best suit them.  " When selling and installing roof racks for example, the primary issue to be addressed is the intended use of the rack," says Dan Epting of Perrycraft. " While aesthetics and styling are important, the intended-use factor must be considered to ensure consumers are properly advised."

While there's obviously some work that needs to be done, the outdoor lifestyle market is a large one. The potential for capturing additional customers by merely changing a display or attending a local show is a great investment that can yield some extra profit.

Readers Respond

We introduced the Carlisle Sports & Outdoor show last year to our schedule at Carlisle Events. We had a strong vendor base of RVs, power equipment, boats and powersports. Truck accessories complement all of those markets. I am surprised that not to see more light truck, Jeep and SUV accesorry vendors at outdoor shows. The parking lots of full of trucks and the aisles of thier drivers. Ed Scholly . By Ed Scholly on 2014 04 29

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