Yakima Products made it official over the last two weeks that it would not be exhibiting at Outdoor Retailer Summer Market in Salt Lake City in August, although they do plan to be at the show in some capacity.
Instead the privately held company brought out its entire rep force, international distributors, and more than 50 retailers to a massive industrial warehouse and parking lot converted into a real-life product showroom and presentation space – complete with a wind tunnel, stage and movie screen, and food trucks – where reps, dealers, media, and even the outdoor community at large were courted in the brand’s hometown of Portland, OR.
Citing the lodging challenges of Salt Lake City, the timing, and the continuing or growing importance of regional buying shows, as well as the importance of the Grassroots Outdoor Alliance buying shows, Yakima Global Senior Sales Director Jason McGibbon said the company simply “wants to start the dialogue earlier.”
“Ryan [Martin, CEO] gave us a hall pass to do something different,” said Yakima Category Director Joel Grabenstein. “And I know from experience, when I get a hall pass, I take it.” The company spent the last year tracking what it calls the “consumer journey experience,” and for Spring 2016 is focused on reducing its number of SKUs, increasing its consumer base through markets such as hook and bullet, and continuing to focus on ease of use, approachability and customer experience. Or as the company said, focusing on its three core values of empowerment, making good and shared experiences. They also honed their customer categories down into five “persons” – core outdoor, cyclist, hook & bullet, baby boomer and travelers/family – including a “reset” on all new visual brand elements and photography.
Yakima said it would continue to produce products under its Whispbar and Prorack brands as well, reaching the high and low ends, respectively, of the rack market. The company employs 85 people in Portland and also has offices in Australia and Holland. It celebrated its official 35thanniversary in 2014.
McGibbon said Yakima will be attending Interbike and is not ruling out attending future Outdoor Retailer shows, including Winter Market 2016.