Brands marketing to consumers with an interest in outdoor activities may be a surprising beneficiary of the “stay-at-home” world in which much of the country is still living, according to an April 29 survey of outdoor enthusiasts from CGPR, a consumer active lifestyle agency owned by French West Vaughan.

Almost a third of those surveyed (32.5 percent) said they were “novices” to outdoor activity since the beginning of the pandemic. For them, the top reason for heading outside was exercise, followed by getting sunshine and fresh air and walking the family dog.

More than eight out of ten of the novices (82 percent) also said they intended to remain engaged in outdoor activities even after restrictions are lifted. When asked what had held them back from participating in outdoor activities before, 59 percent cited a lack of time, 29 percent said they had a lack of knowledge about what to do outdoors, 18 percent said the price of gear and/or apparel was an obstacle and 12 percent said lack of access.

Of the 67.5 percent of survey respondents who said they had been outdoor enthusiasts before the emergence of COVID-19, over 60 percent said the crisis had changed how they engaged in outdoor activities. More than 70 percent of this group noted that post COVID-19 they will be more careful, cleaning equipment and practicing social distancing.

CGPR president Chris Goddard says that there’s much that the outdoor industry can do to keep novices in the fold and help turn the wave of new outdoor enthusiasts into an opportunity. She notes such strategies as accessible price points, product durability and broader distribution beyond outdoor specialty retailers as ways that the industry can make new consumers feel more welcome.

Goddard also said that storytelling about the benefits of the outdoors can serve as a cost-efficient way to keep novices engaged. And with the absence of trade shows as a method of introducing and marketing products, the importance of virtual platforms will grow.

CGPR and FWV are working to capitalize on the turn toward the outdoors, with “Reach Out,” a video that features friends and family of agency employees enjoying their favorite outdoor activities. On May 21, Goddard is collaborating with trade show organization Outdoor Retailer to host a live chat on the art of pivoting communications programs that will cover media relations, internal communications and B2B initiatives.