1. There is much training happening, sometimes at considerable expense, it is usually, not always, focused on enabling shop staff to recognise product features and what differentiates one brand from another. Critically however the retention level by staff is rarely tested or recorded. Our USA editor Chuck Kukla adds “Currently, nothing ties the training that occurs (if it does) in one segment to another. What this OGC program is aiming to do is make training coherent across all the different segments”.
2. Naturally it is in the best interests of brands to promote their own interests and in the process much creative marketing wording arises, each brand using different words for what appears to be the same thing. We hear from CK our USA editor of ‘a growing feeling of being overwhelmed by the information flows in different ‘marketing languages’ and of conflicting claims’. ( “having been the owner of two outdoor brands I feel I have an understanding of and empathy with this”, Mike Parsons). The outdoor instructors and guides who are full time professional users are usually outside this training loop and indeed it has happened that pro’s sponsored by a brand and when asked by a client why they use such a products can only say in response, “because we are sponsored”.
3. What is lacking are fundamentals of the basic science, human physiology, manufacturing technology and historical breakthroughs which all the great innovations and progressions of the industry are based on. We feel that it would be of benefit to both the outdoor industry as a whole and individuals within it and on its periphery if such information and training tools were available and the retention levels of trainees recorded.
The sector lacks a formal and independent product training system, embracing all functions across the supply chain from factory to design to retail buyer and sales to professional instructor/guide.
There is little opportunity for continuous personal development and achievement that is measured and recognised.
Skills for using garments and products have been under emphasised, and should be embraced within a training system to educate users in a way that gives them the best chance of ensuring that users optimise performance.
When retailers are OGC trained on the base principles of how all garments work and best practises for using them, brand training people can focus more clearly on brand and product differentiation and building of the all important trading and personal relationships.
Outdoor instructing professionals, and journalists, the very people who use the products most extensively, are usually left out of existing product training. We aim to work closely with the BMC and UK mountain training to see how our courses can support their extensive and existing instruction.
In the UK and many countries, extensive and inclusive mountain training courses exist at all levels from walking group leaders to climbing walls to snow and ice. Snow sports have also very extensive training, usually for professional instructors but sometimes for volunteers. Most of these course contents and accreditation are co-ordinated across Europe to ensure ‘equivalence’ and that the skill can be used legally, Europe wide. The UIAA is involved with this.
The UK cycle industry has very extensive and successful training courses, admittedly driven by the legal requirement that a cycle be roadworthy when sold to the end user. The first course is recognising by name all parts of a bike and which parts need lubrication. Our first of 10 modules, 1.1 similarly starts with the basics ‘Size, fit, grade and tailoring for function.’