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The Quarantine Effect On Outdoor Living

John Laing, director, Appliances & Outdoor Living, Nationwide Marketing Group

Since the middle of March, most of the United States population has been under national emergency orders to stay in your house, go out only if you must and social distance if you have to make an essential supply run. With the exception of very few people, we have been relegated to spending a historically disproportionate amount of time with family. This sociological phenomenon has had a significant impact on our daily lives.

So, how have outdoor living products been impacted?

Consumables for outdoor cooking have skyrocketed: Fuels like wood pellets are up 132% as reported by a leading grill manufacturer. Spices and rubs are way up. There was a reported 94% increase of grill usage month-over-month in April. One manufacturer reported that on Easter Sunday (4/13/20) they saw the highest recorded “cooks” of all time based on app usage for their Wi-Fi connected products.

Based on one vendor’s online survey, four out of 10 purchases were accelerated due to the crisis. In March and April, manufacturers I spoke to reported increased overall sales of grills, accessories and consumables anywhere from 20% to 80% over prior weeks.

So, what does all this recent historical usage mean for the future of selling in the Outdoor Category? With usage going up, it means more product failure. Just like appliances, grills are purchased about 60% of the time under duress. With 85% of the U.S. population owning at least one grill, future sales of grills will continue to go up once we have fully re-opened the economy and get back to the new norm.

The other big learning from the last 90 days has been the selling process. Online grill sales have had reported increases of 40% to 146%. Having a simple product catalog and pricing is NOT enough. The consumer path to purchase already included pre-shopping 90% of the time on the Internet. Now, the experience needs to include product reviews, shopping cart, chat and virtual shopping capabilities. Assembling product and offering free same-day pickup or curbside delivery has helped a lot of retailers be successful. Highlighting the fact that the products have been disinfected to help ease the concern of contagion spread has also been important.

The future is bright for Outdoor Living products in general and specifically for grills, fire pits and other products that add to the personalized ambiance of your home. Make sure you’re market relevant by dedicating at least some showroom space to this booming market.

See also: Nationwide Marketing Group Launches ShopSafe Promise To Aid Retailers In Recovery

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