Brands to Americans: Unplug to explore the great outdoors

August 24, 2015
4 min read

As summer nears its end, families are taking advantage of their remaining free time by disconnecting from technology and reconnecting with each other. Spending time outdoors is perceived as a wholesome family pastime that inspires nostalgia for simpler times, while also addressing two areas that concern parents: overuse of technology and lack of physical activity. According to Mintel’s Family Leisure Trends US 2015 report, 88% of parents say activities that get kids moving are the best kind of activities.

The majority (59%) of parents also want to spend more time with their family but other obligations get in the way. During a typical week, parents spend 6.5 hours on family leisure time. On weekends, that number increases to 10 hours. With the start of school swiftly approaching, parents have precious few days left to spend with their kids before it becomes even more difficult to find time together.

Brands nudge families to unplug and connect with the outdoors

Some brands are stepping up to encourage families to get outdoors, including Cabela’s with a campaign urging Americans to unplug from technology for “Disconnect Day” and enjoy outdoor activities while reconnecting with themselves, family and friends. The campaign’s TV ad includes family activities such as fishing and hiking before showing an image of a group around a campfire. At that scene, the ad pulls the camera out to a little girl watching the scene on a tablet in her bedroom. One of the central messages of the campaign is that American kids spend too much time in front of screens, which is a concern for the overwhelming majority of parents. Mintel data shows that 87% of parents agree that there should be limits set on children’s screen time.

44% of US parents say they wish their children were more active yet struggle to get them to do physical activities

Cabela’s campaign, which more than 20,000 Americans have pledged to observe, offers ideas for how to spend the day far from technology and close to nature, which resonates with many American families, especially when looking to bond together. When spending time as a family, 40% of parents say all family members try to avoid using mobile devices. Families also frequently turn to outdoor activities for bonding, with 60% visiting a natural outdoor attraction and/or going camping in the past year.

Similar to Cabela’s, the National Park Service and National Park Foundation launched the “Find Your Park” campaign, which seeks to raise awareness of America’s parks with the aid of technology. Focusing on the 48% of parents who agree that technology brings their family closer together, the campaign calls on park explorers to inspire others to visit parks by sharing photos, videos and stories, giving away prizes to 100 explorers who share their “Find Your Park” stories by the National Park Service’s 100th birthday in 2016. Nearly all parents with children under age 12 (93%) have participated in an outdoor activity in the past year compared to 77% of those without, which highlights an opportunity to bond as a family while still staying connected. Furthermore, 44% of parents say they wish their children were more active yet struggle to get them to do physical activities. This outdoor campaign gives parents the opportunity to engage their children with popular family activities, such as fishing, camping and trail running, at many of America’s 407 national parks.

Summer campaigns that challenge American families to put down their devices and get back to nature should resonate with consumers, especially as they provide ideas and inspiration for those eager to experience the great outdoors.

Lauren Bonetto is a Lifestyles and Leisure Analyst at Mintel. Lauren is responsible for writing reports analyzing various lifestyle and leisure topics. Her areas of interest include kids, moms and Millennials.

Lauren Bonetto
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