The latest Salesforce Shopping Index reveals, among other things, that the “active apparel” sector, which includes athleisure, sports apparel and more, continues to outperform (in a big way) other sectors of digital commerce by almost every measure.

In Q1, the active apparel sector of ecommerce grew at 34%, by far the biggest growth of the five sectors we track. Active apparel has been leading the pack in terms of digital growth for each of the past five quarters.

Average order value in the active apparel sector in Q1, at $131, is bested only by luxury apparel.

In mobile, active apparel order growth on phones has blown away every sector for each of the past five quarters.

What’s going on?

According to the Outdoor Shopping Focus report, it basically comes down to this: aspiration.

In perhaps no other retail vertical is lifestyle and aspiration woven so deeply into the brand as in outdoor. For evidence, one need look no further than the homepage of many of these active brands, where the majority use this valuable real estate to issue an all-out call to arms, with phrases like ‘Run Happy,’ ‘live wild,’ ‘Forever Faster’ and ‘Make Your Mark.’

Brands are epitomizing action, in all its sweaty splendor, in order to establish a connection with their active shoppers. Why? Because it works! People buy from those they can relate to and aspire to emulate.

When this connection is made and deemed authentic by the shopper, the products become the vehicle for enabling the activity that empowers them to live the active lifestyle embodied in the message.

Guided selling and, in particular, user-generated content are enormously valuable engagement tools for outdoor brands, because it validates the brand’s credibility and creates an opportunity for retailers to engage on a deeper, less promotional level with shoppers.

When it comes to the outdoor market, there may be no other slice of the apparel pie whose products evoke such passion, connection and immersion into one’s lifestyle. That’s precisely why retailers in the outdoor category are leading the charge to create shopping experiences that transcend the transaction and serve as a call to action.