Kelli Patterson, vice president of marketing at Moosejaw, a retailer of outdoor apparel and gear, was interviewed during the April Virtual Exchange event hosted by Women in Retail Leadership Circle (WIRLC) and Total Retail. WIRLC Co-Founder Melissa Campanelli guided the discussion as Patterson walked listeners through the values, marketing strategies, and philanthropic efforts of a company known as one of the most fun outdoor retailers in the world.

Moosejaw specializes in selling outdoor gear and apparel for backpacking, camping, rock climbing, kayaking, snowboarding, biking, and more. It was founded in 1992 in the suburbs of Detroit, and in 2017 was acquired by Walmart. Known as one of the most fun outdoor retailers in the world, Patterson explains, “We really try to inject just having a good time,” always striving to be the outdoor enthusiast’s most loved gear shop.

In describing the nature of Moosejaw’s marketing, Patterson mentioned the importance of inclusivity, sustainability, having the best product assortment, and being the most fun. In her role, Patterson oversees a number of teams, including web content, digital marketing, project planning, analytics and user experience, and many others.

Campaign Efforts, Engagement, and Best Social Media Practices

When asked to recount her favorite Moosejaw marketing campaigns, Patterson recalled personalized Valentines Day poems, a “Moosejaw dating service,” and “Moosejaw breakup service” as unorthodox but fun tactics the retailer has used to connect and engage with customers on a personal level. As far as social media, she noted that what works best is “looking at social media as interacting with your friends  … it’s about actually being social; interacting with followers and customers.” Jokes, giveaways, and fun, engaging and shareable content are paramount to Moosejaw’s social media strategy, all designed to help it facilitate greater customer engagement.

The Outdoor Accelerator

During the session, Patterson also discussed Moosejaw’s Outdoor Accelerator, an intensive eight-week business mentoring program for outdoor startup brands guided by the ICELab at Western Colorado University, an all-in-one business resource center. Through ICELab, Moosejaw provides classes on subjects such as creating product content, social media, how to work with a retailer, etc., to give startup brands a solid foundation of guiding knowledge as they seek to grow their businesses. With over 100 applicants in the last election committee, eight finalists were chosen. Then, Moosejaw customers and outdoor enthusiasts voted for their top four, and those companies were announced as the winners.

‘We Think the Outdoors Are for Everyone’

During the surge in outdoor activities that occurred as a result of the pandemic, Moosejaw focused on helping people to try new outdoor activities. Patterson noted that the company ensured there were products available to people at all levels of outdoor experience.

“We think the outdoors are for everyone,” Patterson explained, noting that inclusivity is one of Moosejaw’s core values.

Patterson also proudly informed the audience of Moosejaw’s commitment to be inclusive of people of color, people with disabilities, and members of the LGBTQIA+ community. This corporate value has been integral for the company in its response to a year that has seen political unrest, brutality, and a worldwide pandemic. In that vein, Moosejaw has begun producing monthly content features to highlight groups, typically nonprofits, as a means to promote people and organizations that would be worthwhile for its uber-loyal customer base to support. Furthermore, Moosejaw employees have created a Pride Resource Group, which conducts charity drives, produces pride products, hosts rainbow happy hours, participates in parade marches, among other activities.

Looking to the future, Moosejaw plans to continue its focus on DEI and sustainability initiatives through content, marketing campaigns, and product development. In addition, Moosejaw is partnering with Sea Grant, an organization focused on conservation in the Great Lakes.

To view the entire session with Kelli Patterson of Moosejaw, as well as other inspiring leaders in the retail industry, register to view the complimentary Women in Retail and Total Retail Virtual Exchange on-demand.