Call for Future Leaders of the Outdoor Industry; Development Board Consultation, July 3rd, Manchester

Currently the leaders of the UK Outdoor Industry have an specific bias; older, male, white British. Is this simply because the ‘Baby Boomers’ who set up the trade are still in position, or are there thick glass ceilings to gender, ethnic and other diversity in outdoor participation, and entry and promotion in the industry?

The Outdoor Industry Association are addressing this question by identifying future leaders for a Development Board; a group of 10-12 who will be split into working streams, and project managed through defined outcomes over an 18 month period, supported by a digital forum of contributors.

During our consultation period, common themes arose from individuals and bodies; such as inability to progress in the industry, static attitudes within companies to consumer behavior and CSR and the lack of research or resource to be change or be challenging. The Development Board will create new industry resources to allow our businesses to trail blaze. We need committed, progressive and realist individuals to make this industry a dream place to work for the next twenty years and beyond, as it was for those who set up our core companies.

The DB board will be selected after an initial consultation in at The Outdoor Trade Show in Manchester on Tuesday July 3rd.

Selection criteria are:


Position in business

Underrepresentation in existing OIA membership base

Specific ‘non traditional’ expertise and access to networks

Indidvidual profile

We will engage with new and fast growing businesses within the Outdoor Industry, ask questions of the industry and commission research on consumers to fill the voids in between new demographics and the traditional market. Think of growth areas like SUP and Glamping, new ‘blended’ brands from 3rd Rock to Finisterre, movements and communities such as the Women’s Climbing Symposium and the Outdoor Swimming Society. We will look at new platforms and medias, at the fluidity with which we can be influencing. We will profile the people behind them, consult to understand their behaviours and shared traits. E.G. growing up as a digital native and establishing a business digital first and embracing new digital channels and new ways of working much easier than previous gen.

The DB will ask if the flow of influence between policy maker, consumer, and business changed and does the OIA need to change with it? Should it be OIA to government, or should it be OIA to brand to consumer? Who is the consumer actually listening to these day? Their government, or their brand, or more specifically those brands they consider to be holistic and in line with their world view? The DB could research their consumers loyalty to prove the industry abilities change behavior to the government.

Millennial’s are now moving into becoming parents and Gen Z is becoming closer to becoming a core target group for marketing activity. It is the remit of all businesses in the Outdoor Industry to understand these demographics and how best businesses are prepared to respond to them on every stage of their customers life-journey. The DB should define the business imperative for engaging with these audience groups and produce a deeper audience profile than previous OIA research and focus on specific themes, e.g. social responsible brands, digital natives, new tribes, blended tribes.

As a base aim, the DB needs to futuristic in it’s own working practice; recruit with real diversity, question bravely and commercially, and present it’s activity, research and thought in innovative ways that will speak to the industry, the consumer and the policy maker. The OIA should be a relevant and accessible resource to everyone who is touched by our industry to grow it’s answerability, influence and energy.

Could you contribute to any of the above areas? Do they feel essential?

Please email your interest, or any other thoughts to