Millennials were at the center of many discussions at the European Outdoor Summit (EOS) in Sheffield, as demanding consumers as well as employees who could help outdoor companies to adjust to the increasingly volatile environment around them.

Millennials are people who grew up with the internet and digital services, and are used to instant information and constant connectivity. Gen Z is the next generation – youngsters who have integrated all dimensions of digital technology, using it maturely and with social awareness.

Andy Rubin, chairman of Pentland Brands, the group behind Berghaus and many other sports brands, described some of the ways in which Millennials were influencing companies and consumption. A report by Accenture estimates that the annual spend of U.S. Millennials will reach about $1.4 trillion by 2020, amounting to 30 percent of retail sales.

These tech-savvy consumers are rising in a population with a fast-evolving mix in socio-economic terms. Rubin portrayed a global market where 25 percent of the population will be Muslim and 40 percent overweight in 2020. About 66 percent should have access to the internet and there should be an estimated 50 billion connected devices – such as refrigerators that can be programmed from a mobile phone. Perhaps most encouragingly for the outdoor industry, some 55 percent of consumers would be prepared to pay more for sustainable products, according to Mashable, a digital media website.

Pentland Brands has been studying these changes as part of its strategy to deal with what Rubin described as a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. One of the group's responses is to hire young staff. The chairman said that the average age at the company's head office in Finchley, north London, was 26 years. Pentland has been recurrently lauded for its approach, recently with the European Family Business of the Year 2014 award.