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Consumer Products Monitor

Tracking new products, new technologies, and new ideas for application to new consumer destinations.
REI's New Product Impact Standards
REI’s New Product Impact Standards

REI’s new Product Impact Standards for 2021, now include diversity, equity, and inclusion requirements for companies wanting REI shelf space.   The standards include the retailer’s core requirements as well as optional preferred attributes.   REI is an American retail and outdoor recreation services corporation, organized as a consumers’ co-operative.  The retailer sells sporting goods, camping gear, travel equipment, and clothing, as well as outdoor-oriented experiences, recreation activities, and courses.


Back in 2018, REI had originally devised its product standards to focus on ethical production practices and sustainability.  As part of this update, REI has also added two new programs to its list of preferred attributes—a collection of voluntary business certifications that vendor brands are encouraged to pursue, such as for certifications for aspects of climate and environmental stewardship, chemicals management, and animal welfare.


REI’s product impact standards are part of the emerging interest among global investors to evaluate environmental, social and governance issues (so called ESG Investing) when investing and operating.   REI’s dedication to sustainable and ethical production, diversity, equity, and inclusion are precisely what ESG Investing seeks to encourage.


According to an article by SNEWS, the outdoor recreation retailer consulted with brands of various sizes and product categories, as well as with more than a dozen DEI nonprofits, advocates, and ambassadors.   The advice from such third-parties included feasibility considerations.  SNEW is an outdoor industry publication of Pocket Outdoor Media Inc.


The full December 9, 2020 article by SNEWS is available at this link, along with with reference to the full document describing these REI standards:  REI holds vendors accountable for climate and DEI practices with new product standards

Planned Community Consultants - project feasibility consultants
Golf Participation Up 11% Over 2019

According to the National Golf Foundation, golf participation is up 11% over 2019.   The U.S. data through October 2020, is now at 10.8% ahead of 2019’s pace despite losing 20 million rounds in the spring due to the Covid-19 lockdowns.  In fact, October marked the fifth straight month that play has been up year-over-year in every state in the continental U.S.   This increased play translates to roughly 39 million more rounds nationwide than a year ago.


Operating results for the U.S. golf industry represent a marked improvement over the generally dismal outlook that has existed for the past decade.   The reduction in golf participation over the decade has caused an increase in golf course’s being redeveloped or repurposed to new use.   Even with golf participation up 11% over 2019, more courses will proceed to partial or full redevelopment.  Our golf course redevelopment tracking has started and we’ll begin reporting in January 2021.


According to the National Golf Foundation (“NGF”), in both 2009 and 2016, roughly a quarter of public courses admitted to being in bad shape, financially.  Among private clubs, 21% were doing poorly in ’09, but seven years later that proportion had dropped to 14%.  This year, there’s been a dramatic rise in the proportion of U.S. golf facilities reporting to be in good financial shape compared to previous NGF studies, including more than half of public courses and nearly 2/3 of private clubs.  And, fewer than 1 in 10 (public and private combined) suggest that they’re currently in bad shape (0-4).


The National Golf Foundation article is based upon information from Golf Datatech’s monthly report.  According to its website, Golf Datatech provides the golf industry with specialized market research covering retail sales, inventory, pricing and distribution, along with consumer attitude and usage studies and strategic sales and marketing consulting.


The full article by National Golf Foundation about golf participation up 11% over 2019 (year over year), is available here:


Tracking the Impact of Covid-19 on the Golf Business – November 2020



Arc’teryx's store has four "experiential huts"
Arc’teryx’s Store has four “Experiential Huts”

AEC’s Consumer Products Monitor


Arc’teryx’s store has four “experiential huts” throughout its two-level, 8,000 SF store space in Shanghai; the retailer’s 30th store in China.   The outdoor apparel and gear store is among more than 3,000 locations globally for the retailer.  Arc’teryx Equipment specializes in technical high-performance apparel, outerwear and equipment, based in North Vancouver, British Columbia.  Arc’teryx Equipment is in turn owned by Amer Sports Oyj, a PRC-owned Finnish sporting goods company.


The immersive approach to the store’s design is an example of the kind of experiential retail necessary to make the -in-store visit compelling.  The four different experiential huts include: the “Hardshell Hut” featuring LED screen views and sounds of the Canadian mountains; the “Gore-Tex Hut” rain room; the “Hardgoods Hut” with the brand’s hard goods and a climbing wall; and the “Brand Hut” featuring a seasonally-changing virtual reality module.


Retailers that deliver in-store experiences are also what’s needed for shopping centers and retail districts.   As online retail purchases continue to rise, the relevancy of mall retail is more akin to the enduring interest of consumers for location-based entertainmentArc’teryx’s store with four “experiential huts” is the kind of hybrid retail/LBE that will allow physical mall destinations to make sense.


An interesting description of the store is available on the SGB Media website, at: Arc’teryx Opens Global Flagship Store In Shanghai

Facebook plans Augmented-Reality sunglasses with EssilorLuxottica
Facebook Plans Augmented-Reality Sunglasses, for a 2021 Launch

Facebook Plans Augmented-Reality Sunglasses with fashion eye-wear maker EssilorLuxottica.   The new smart glasses could hit retail as early as 2021 according to the company’s annoucnements at its recent Facebook Connect conference.  The smart glasses will connect by wireless (Bluetooth?) to a nearby mobile phone and project an image of a mobile screen on the lenses.


To help Facebook in developing the augmented features for these smart glasses, Facebook employees will wear “Project Aria” eyeglasses in public starting this month.   While this eye-wear does not have augmented reality features (and are not available now for the public), these devices allow for capturing video, audio, eye-tracking and location data to be used in designing features for the smart eye-wear.


The many free-room location-based entertainment (“LBE”) companies coming to retail have been anticipating the arrival of quality “smart” eye-wear enhanced with augmented-reality capabilities.   Such smart eye-wear will allow all manner of immersive A/R experience and advertising for consumers.  As well, the A/R eye-wear will be able to deliver heads-up displays of local environmental and incoming communications updates in the same way that Air Force fighter pilots view such information on their cockpit windows.


A full review of the announcement of Facebook plans for augmented-reality sunglasses, is available at Mobile MarketerFacebook plans to sell AR-equipped smart glasses from Ray-Ban

Most U.S. Halloween Attractions Will Operate this season.
Most U.S. Halloween Attractions Will Operate, Among Top 100

AEC’s Consumer Products Monitor


Most U.S. Halloween attractions will operate this season, according to a survey of the top 100 highly-ranked Halloween attractions in the U.S.  In fact, many have already commenced operations for the season, albeit with careful safety and distancing protocols given the COVID-19 pandemic.


The survey of attractions noted when each of these top annual offerings were established, which for many may be a surprise.  Most of the popular Halloween attractions in each region were established many years ago, indicating their substantial role in what is an $8.8 billion industry (2019).  CNN reported in 2019 that 172 million celebrated the Halloween season.   Given the contribution of this popular consumer out-of-home activity, it is not surprising that most of these U.S. Halloween attractions will operate this season.


The national survey was completed by The Horror Company for AEC’s Consumer Products Monitor.  Attractions were identified based upon the research team’s personal experience at various attractions, along with ratings from popular Halloween, horror, and haunt websites which review such seasonal attractions.

Themed Entertainment Consultants - The Horror Company product line - Halloween attractions that will operate this season.
A haunted hayride themed attraction in early ideation; a product of AEC's The Horror Company.
Mirror the at-Home Fitness Company to be Acquired by Lululemon

AEC’s Consumer Products Monitor


Lululemon’s $500 million acquisition of Mirror is a fascinating moment in the Convergence Era.   With the deal, Lululemon evolves its brand further into consumer lifestyle and with a decided new technology edge.    Mirror offers live classes weekly through its wall-mounted mirror device in addition to on-demand workouts and one-on-one personal training sessions.  The company is a competitor to Peloton.


The Mirror acquisition come as the retailer achieved surprising Q2 2020 sales results, actually achieving increased quarterly revenue during the Pandemic as compared to Q2 2019.   Lululemon’s Q2 results were propelled by its online sales being up 157% year-over-year.  The retailer’s sales at company-operated stores actually dropped 51% from the same quarter last year.


CNBC reported on Lululemon’s acquisition of Mirror on June 29:  Lululemon to acquire at-home fitness company Mirror for $500 million.

A Code for Age-Appropriate Design of Digital Experiences, is now in Effect in the UK

AEC’s Consumer Products Monitor


At a time when consumer privacy concerns are increasing around the world, the UK has emerged with a new code for children’s digital experiences.   The ICO (the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office) has created the Age Appropriate Design Code, which comes into force from today, with a 12 month transition period.   The Age Appropriate Design Code is intended to protect children, and is aimed at designers and developers of online services and products.  The code is a set of 15 standards that these designers should follow so as to comply with the data protection law, and includes things like making sure the privacy settings are set to ‘high’ by default.


According to the ICO website, ” … Data sits at the heart of the digital services children use every day. From the moment a young person opens an app, plays a game or loads a website, data begins to be gathered. Who’s using the service? How are they using it? How frequently? Where from? On what device?   For all the benefits the digital economy can offer children, we are not currently creating a safe space for them to learn, explore and play.   This statutory code of practice looks to change that, not by seeking to protect children from the digital world, but by protecting them within it.”


The ICO office provides details about the new code on its website at:  Age appropriate design: a code of practice for online services

Retailer bankruptcies and store closings.
Peer-to-Peer Rental Fashion is Taking on “Fast Fashion”

AEC’s Consumer Products Monitor


Women’s Wear Daily reports that so called “peer-to-peer rental fashion” platforms are realizing all-time revenues.   By taking the consumer interest to a peer-to-peer format, these new players provide an alternative to traditional consumerism, and expensive inventories.   In particular, an alternative to “fast fashion” apparel where the whole point is relatively inexpensive “current” replacements of a consumer’s apparel, to be replaced as soon as next looks roll into stores.   Peer-to-peer as an “antidote” to the Forever 21 model.


During Copenhagen Fashion Week, Ganni (designer fashions) unveiled plans to expand its rental strategy across Europe and the U.S. and debut a rental-only Levi’s 501 jeans and denim shirts platform.  The rental platform Hurr is partnering with Selfridges in an in-store program, as part of Selfridges’ company-wide “Project Earth” initiative.


Read more at Women’s Wear Daily: Will the Rental Market Replace Fast Fashion?


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