Spring - InsideOutdoor Magazine


Spring - InsideOutdoor Magazine

May/June 2005

Food For


Textile Ideas to

Chew On

· Ingredient



Feel Good


Adventure Ventures

Bee Dance



18 28



The aesthetic performance of fabrics won’t protect wearers from

the elements, but whether combined with protective technology or

flying solo, they aid in comfort level, style, versatility and durability.

Literally a feel good story.

By RJ Anderson


The brand visibility of component technology on retail merchandise

can be an important leveraging tool for both manufacturers and

their suppliers. Others would rather go it alone. Ultimately, does the

customer really care?

By Tony Jones



Some stats and figures that make you go, “Hmm…”

By Martin Vilaboy



Emergent signs of fast-pack marketing

By Stuart Craig

Letter from the Editors 6

Retailers Report 8

Rep Moves & News 10

Advertiser Index 37


Outdoor textiles news and notes.



If you expect to gain revenue by adding an adventure travel component

to your retail business, you better be in it for the long haul.

By Lou Dzierzak

The Legend of Dagda Mor

Dagda, “The Good God,” is an Irish earth and father god,

leader of the ancient Celtic tribe Tuathe De Danann, or People

of Dana. A master of magic, the Dagda possessed both superhuman

strength and appetite. Among his wealth were an

enormous club that could both destroy and restore life and a

great cauldron that provided an inexhaustible supply of food.

He called the seasons into being with his harp and, from the

cauldron of his plenty, fed the entire earth.

A fearsome warrior and artisan, the Dagda has been

resurrected by the founders of INSIDE OUTDOOR to protect

and guide the publication as well as its fellowship of readers.

Powerful, wise, authoritative, generous and unafraid of mischief,

the Dagda will appear from time to time in INSIDE OUTDOOR to

inspire, teach, amuse and occasionally cause trouble.

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Penny Pinching

Behold the power of the penny. For all

that it lacks in physical might, the penny

Thus, any additions to these types of

pricing models resonate exponentially

more than makes up for incrementally across the number of consumers

and conceptually as our root of economic

exchange. It is more powerful as an

intangible unit of measure than a zincfilled

piece of legal tender. You know this

to be true, if you’ve ever fantasized about

receiving a penny from every person in

America. No doubt a quick $2.96 million

would fill out the old savings account

quite nicely, no matter how long or how

many penny rolls it would take to cash

it in.

affected by the increases. There’s no

better example (or hotter topic) than

our current flogging at the gasoline

pump. Although early indicators in the

first week of May showed that national

gas prices were down from a record

$2.28 per gallon in mid-April, we are

still paying, on average, 39 cents more

per gallon than at this time last year,

according to the Energy Information


Regular Gasoline Prices


Tony C. Jones



Gary Kim

Executive Editor


Ben Folkerstma

Creative Leader


Martin Vilaboy

Founding Editor


Ernest Shiwanov

Editor at Large


Editorial Contributors:

R.J. Anderson, Stuart Craig,

Lou Dzierzak, Brian Hewitt

Jennifer Vilaboy

Production Director


Berge Kaprelian



Cents per gallon






Jun Sep Dec Mar Jun

2003-04 2004-05

Source: Energy Information Administration


Robert C. Titsch

President & CEO

Gary Kim

Chief Operating Officer

Deborah Dellisanti

Executive Vice President

Becky Pennington

Vice President/Finance

Corporate Headquarters

Schools regularly hold penny drives

based on this concept and do quite well,

thank you. Moreover, there are volumebased

industries that are built on the

concept of the penny. The photocopier

business, for example, is predicated on cost

per copy averages that in many instances

are less than a penny. Similarly, our friends

in the gasoline industry have long exploited

the value of an extra nine-tenths of a cent.

The return from high-volume business in

these cases certainly adds up.

The ripple affect across our national

consumer base is staggering. “The

consumer is responsible for 70 percent

of the economy, and every additional

penny at the pump takes $1.5 billion

out of people’s pockets,” offers Merrill

Lynch analyst Rich Bernstein in the April

4 edition of Fortune magazine. Moreover,

Bernstein says the 32-cent rise in

gasoline futures experienced in March

equated to a $48 billion tax increase.

If I have a 17-gallon tank and fill up

21001 N. Tatum Blvd.

Suite 1630-449

Phoenix, AZ 85050





Editorial Offices


1405 E. Campus Dr.

Tempe, AZ 85282




my car twice per month, an extra 39

cents per gallon means that I likely have

$13.26 less to spend elsewhere each

month than I did last year and reduces my

potential spending by nearly $160 for the

year. Apply that to the outdoor recreation

pool of 145 million participants the

Outdoor Industry Association tells us we

had in 2003, and we’re talking $1.92

billion less a month in available funds

and a potential loss of $23.2 billion in

spending power for the year. Outdoor

retailers would likely have garnered only

a small percentage of these dollars, but

the amount of money lost at the pump is

readily apparent.

How such incremental price changes

actually affect overall consumer spending

depends on many factors, but some

indicators hint that consumers may

be inclined to watch their pennies, if

you’ll pardon the pun. Overall consumer

confidence fell 5.1 percent between March

and April, with expectations also declining

6.9 percent, according to the Conference

Board’s Consumer Confidence Index. The

fact is that outdoor specialty retailers not

only rely on discretionary spending for

sales of gear and apparel, the industry

as a whole is reliant upon enthusiasts’

ability and desire to travel to recreation

destinations to put that gear to use.

On the positive side, general

consumers seem to be less reactionary

to ping-ponging gas prices than a year or

even six months ago, although this could

be simply a byproduct of having dealt with

volatile pricing during the last 12 months

and already adjusting their purchasing

behaviors. Still, the number of shoppers

traveling to stores closer to their homes

in order to reduce driving distance is down

from 43 percent last May to 35 percent

in March, according to Retail Forward

ShopperScape. Likewise, the number of

consumers changing their vacation plans

to reduce driving distance was at 13

percent in March, down from 20 percent

last May. ShopperScape also indicates,

though, that 38 percent of shoppers are

planning to change their driving behavior

if gas prices remain high, which is up 8

percent from last August.

Traveler sentiment also seems to

be up according to first quarter results

released by the Travel Industry Association

of America. Overall sentiment is up 2.5

percent from the fourth quarter of 2004,

while the ability to travel for pleasure based

on personal finances is up 6.7 percent from

last quarter. The affordability index is up

3.5 percent from last quarter but is lagging

12.3 percent from a year ago.

This isn’t too surprising considering

the TIA Travel Price Index at the end

of March showed that the overall cost

of travel is up 5.6 percent compared

to a year ago. For its part, the price of

gasoline jumped 16.9 percent compared

to last March and was up 15.4 percent

from the beginning of the year.

One saving grace is that these travel

figures are based on general consumers

and not necessarily core outdoor

enthusiasts. Outdoor recreation for many

is both a lifestyle and a hobby, meaning

the emotional attachment and value

placed on recreational pursuits and their

accompanying gear ranks much higher for

them than the average Joe. As disposable

income tightens, consumers still have a

tendency to scrape together money to

purchase items and experiences that they

find fulfilling and equate with happiness.

So while an occasional hiker may

choose to spend discretionary dollars

on a CD rather than a new pair of socks,

chances are your core customers will

continue to invest in outdoor products,

albeit a few pennies less. – TJ

Retailers Report

Consolidation Prize

This month we ask: How has vendor consolidation affected the

relationships you have with your suppliers? Have you experienced

some positives, such as broader product lines under a single brand

and perhaps lower prices? What about negatives, such as less flexibility

in placing orders (lead times, quantities) and a switch in customer

service from a personal touch to a colder corporate approach?


“Honestly, consolidation hasn’t really

changed anything with us,” says Dede Clapp,

general operations manager at Bob Smith’s

Wilderness Shop, a 17,000-square-foot

standalone outdoor specialty store located

just outside of Boston, whose doors have been

open for more than 100 years. “I’m thinking of some of the bigger

mergers, like Marmot and a lot of the snowsports companies as

examples, and they’re all still operating as separate entities.

“So depending on what you’re buying, you’re still dealing with

the smaller segment of the larger overall company,” adds Clapp.

“Nothing has really changed, but who knows what will happen

down the road as they integrate a little more.”

“So far it has had only minor effects,” says Mitch Osur,

owner of Snow Country, a 9,000-square-foot specialty retail

shop in Pittsford, N.Y., located 10 miles east of Rochester. “But

I’d underline the term ‘so far.’

“With most of the companies we deal with there haven’t been

any major changes,” he adds. “In fact, I was talking to my Marmot

rep the other day about it and he said, ‘If someone hadn’t told

me we were bought out by K2, I would have no idea anything has

changed. The company is running just like it always has.’”

However, as vendor consolidations continue, Osur is wary

of where specialty shops may fall within each vendor’s dealer

pecking order. His concerns include potential ramifications

of applying economies of scale, which could affect customer

service, expanded territories for reps, shipping time, pricing and

discounts for larger competitors.

“A big concern is that the deliveries could start to become

a disaster, especially now that smaller retailers are being a

little more conservative and depending more on reordering and

special orders,” he adds. “For example, one of our vendors used

to be very good with deliveries, but now that they are so big and

owned by such a big company, if you place a special order, you

might get it in two weeks. By comparison, if I’m dealing with

a small company and I place an order today, it will get here

tomorrow.” RJ


Vendor consolidation has left Bobby McCain

with mixed emotions. McCain, owner of 19-yearold

Buffalo Park Outfitters, a 5,700-square-foot

specialty retailer housed in an upscale shopping

center in Jackson, Miss. says, “One of the fun

things about this industry that I really miss is

dealing with small, independent, entrepreneur-driven businesses,

which are becoming few and far between. Sometimes the smaller

companies that are gobbled up lose some of the charm and the

identity that made them appealing.”

In particular, McCain says consolidation seems to be driving the

paddlesports industry toward becoming “one big company.”

“On the flipside, there are some cases in which smaller companies

aren’t equipped to grow on their own, and the larger companies

come in and improve the operational aspects, improvements that

otherwise probably wouldn’t have happened,” adds McCain, citing

Columbia Sportswear’s acquisition of Mountain Hardwear as a

positive example. “I’ve seen reduced prices and samples arriving

on an earlier basis.

“But it’s really a case-by-case scenario, and the success really

depends on the company in the acquisition mode,” continues

McCain. “Some, like Columbia, have their act together and really

improve the companies they acquire. VF acquiring The North Face is

another example of that. It’s been great seeing the turnaround with

The North Face since that acquisition.”

Chuck Walker, general manager of Rockfish Gap Outfitters, a

standalone 6,000-square-foot specialty retail shop in Waynesboro,

Va., says he hasn’t really noticed any change in dealing with

vendors affected through mergers and acquisitions. “For example,

with Watermark and Yakima coming together, none of the potential

negatives that could have arisen have been an issue,” he says,

adding that placing orders hasn’t been any easier or more difficult.

“It’s pretty much the same for both preseason ordering and when

doing fill-ins.

“That said, from my position, it is a positive,” adds Walker. RJ


Susan Lambert, manager at Active Endeavors,

a three-year-old 3,000-square-foot action sports

boutique in Boulder, Colo.’s Pearl Street Pedestrian

Mall, says her store hasn’t noticed any changes

resulting from vendor consolidation. “There really

hasn’t been much of an effect on us in terms of customer service or

pricing or anything like that,” she says.

8 |IO May|June 2005

David Goodman, owner of Mountain Miser, a specialty retail

shop in South Denver, also says that not much has changed in

terms of working with vendors. “Nobody is easier to deal with after

consolidation,” says Goodman. “But we haven’t found anybody to be

worse to deal with either.”

Business logistics aside, Goodman does believe that once a

company gets too large, they have a hard time remaining true to the

“specialty” component of outdoor specialty. “Now with everybody

owning everybody, what used to be specialty is even less so,” he

says. “As a result, we’re constantly looking for the next special thing,

which is the way it’s always been.” RJ


Northwest specialty retailers in general

say that vendor consolidation goes against

the grain of the long-established specialty

concept of small shop customer service

and expertise.

“Now more than ever, you’ve got little specialty companies that

want to be bigger so they can be purchased by the conglomerates,”

says Steve Teufert of Olympic Mountaineering in Port Angeles, Wash.

“This industry didn’t used to be about the money. It used to be about

the spirit of it all, about how cool it was to make something to help

people climb Mount Olympus or put up a new climbing route in Index or

crank tele turns in the back country. Now it’s about the homogenization

of America. If this keeps up, pretty soon small specialty shops like

ours will be forced to become just like big box chains or go out of

business, and the customer will suffer if that happens.”

“I’ve been in this business for over 20 years,” says one senior

staffer at a small specialty shop in Boise, Idaho, “and I can tell

you that the consolidation of the past five years has really caused

vendor customer service to change, compared to the old days.

Some of them just don’t know their product like they used to. And

some of them have ‘timed’ allotments for each call. It’s ridiculous

and doesn’t seem like you’re calling in to an actual outdoor

industry business.”

“We’re small. We run lean and mean, and money is always tight,”

says an owner of a small independent climbing gym/specialty

store in the Northwest. “With consolidation, a huge disadvantage

for us is that we now have one accounts payable where we used to

have three or maybe four accounts for the same products. You can’t

shuffle your payable priorities very well when you have one big bill

versus three or four smaller bills. Before consolidation it was easier

to strategize cash flow in lean times.”

This owner also says he feels as though his store is always

under threat of being dropped by conglomerates for not meeting

yearly dollar minimums. He contends that was not a factor when

dealing with some vendors prior to being acquired. BH


“Vendor consolidation has been great for

us,” says a supervisor at the Albuquerque

REI. “It has helped the way we do business

and interact with vendors. When vendors

consolidate it’s nice to have one payable instead of five when you

operate with regional accounting for your store. It makes it simpler.

Shipping turn times have gotten better with some of the smaller

brand names that used to be slow.”

This positive perception is not the case with some smaller stores.

“I don’t like it one bit,” says a long time buyer at a small specialty

shop in Sedona, Ariz. “The new large-company customer service can

come across as detached, compared to how it used to be, and strict

changes in billing practices can make it difficult to juggle finances

sometimes. When you need it, there’s not much accommodation for

long-standing relationships with a given brand.”

Staff at a self-described “hardcore” shop in Dallas say that some

of their favorite reps have been casualties of consolidation, severing

what had been pleasurable business relationships: “The products

are still available, but the familiar reps are gone. Sometimes after a

small vendor is acquired someone new is assigned to the territory,

and much of the time our employees aren’t real receptive to these

new corporate reps. They were used to reps blowing into town and

setting up climbing trips with them. Then suddenly someone new

selling the same brand shows up and tries to high-pressure everyone

into buying more, more, more. It doesn’t come off so well.”

Adventure 16 in Costa Mesa, Calif., has rolled with the waves of

consolidation. Says one staffer: “I see improvements in marketing

from some of these small brands that suddenly have a big engine

behind them. This improves public perception of the product, and we

get heightened interest and increased sales as a result.” BH

Rep Moves and News

Wenonah Canoe/Current Designs has named Peter Whaley

as its Eastern Canadian representative. Whaley’s territory includes

Ontario, Quebec, Newfoundland, New Brunswick, Prince Edward

Islands and Nova Scotia …

TrailHeads announced several additions to its sales team. Mark

Charpentier, formerly national sales manager of Cannondale Corp., is

director of sales. In addition, Jackson Cyr, Matt Kabza and Libby Bliss

from Action Sales have joined the TrailHeads sales team to represent

the Pacific Northwest. Matthew Cox will service northern California,

and Kenneth Miner will sell in Colorado and New Mexico …

Indigo Equipment has retained three sales representatives to

10|IO May|June 2005

cover its New England and Pacific Northwest territories. Velocity

Sales, founded by partners Michael Schmidt and Bill Bruzzese,

represent Indigo in Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts,

Rhode Island, Connecticut and Maine. In the Pacific Northwest,

Indigo added Mike Burns to cover northern California, Oregon,

Idaho and Montana. Burns was hired in conjunction with the Alta

Group, which represents Indigo in Washington, Alaska and British

Columbia. In addition to Indigo, Velocity Sales also represents

K2 telemark skis, Garmont, Jetboil and Nikwax. The Alta Group

also represents Atomic Nordic and telemark skis, Petzl and Sea

to Summit.

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© 2005 WYNIT, Inc. All rights reserved. The WYNIT logo is a registered trademark of WYNIT, Inc. All other trademarks and registered trademarks are used to benefit and without intent to infringe on their respective mark holders.

T a l k t o t h e H a n d

S p e a k i n g t o a e s t h e t i c

p e r f o r m a n c e

by R.J. Anderson

Over the last few seasons the

outdoor industry fashion

market has undergone a certain degree

of trend swapping with its mainstream

cousins. As the function of outdoor

technology has integrated the demands

of mainstream fashionistas, savvy

outdoor shoppers have come to expect

more aesthetic appeal from their favorite

outdoor brands.

“We design with the concept of

adding fashion to function, which is key

for the outdoor market, but those same

designs also cross over into the broader

mainstream market,” says Kevin

Williams, sales and marketing manager

at Coville Inc, a Winston-Salem, N.C.-

based design, marketing and conversion

company for specialty knitted fabrics.

“Both markets are evolving at the same

time, and the two different crowds end

up liking the same thing. It’s interesting

the way it’s all gelling and coming

together at the same time.”


From finishing techniques to the basic design of the fabrics, outdoor

fabric suppliers and apparel manufacturers are stepping up their game

to feed this increased consumer appetite, and they are moving quickly to

up their market ante. Gone are the days of cardboard-feeling synthetic

fabrics and stinky polypropylenes, today’s specialty outdoor clothing

racks are filled with all sorts of technology enhanced by aesthetic

improvements. From the obvious, such as increases in natural fiber usage

and blending, to the more discreet, such as using piece dyes in place of

yarn dyes, outdoor gear is looking and feeling more like fashions found

in upscale department stores.

Coville has been at recent outdoor trade shows exhibiting a new

line of bi-component fabric that is a lightweight double knit featuring

stretch polypropylene on one side and stretch nylon on the other. The

polypropylene worn against the skin offers the wearer antimicrobial

benefits, odor control, moisture wicking and temperature regulation,

says Williams, while the nylon provides softness and durability.

The yarns are not a microdenier, he says, but they have similar benefits.

“You don’t have to go all the way to a microdenier to get a great hand,”

notes Williams. “That they are made from stretch yarns as opposed to

spandex adds to the softness because of the way the yarns bulk.”

The Demand for Hand

One company that is doing its share to soften fabric technology is

Malden Mills. Recently, the Massachusetts-based company switched

many of its high loft fabrics from a yarn dye to a piece dye approach.

Company spokesperson Nate Simmons says the improvements have

created a softer glide, which eases layering and reduces bunching while

offering what he calls a “super-luxurious touch.”

Another benefit is that Malden’s fabrics will be available in smaller

quantities, allowing more companies to offer more styles and colors.

“The Mountain Hardwear Poodle Hoody is a great example of this

fabric’s success,” says Simmons. “It has been hugely successful in core

outdoor and has reached a very broad audience too.”

An apparel manufacturer firmly entrenched in the middle of the

fashion and technology integration trend is Royal Robbins. With a

breadth of product that addresses the fashion-into-function angle, as

well as the function-into-fashion elements, Royal Robbins is updating

the feel and features of the fabrics the company uses.

“We are working with Schoeller on their 3XDry to incorporate

that into a very quick-drying performance cotton product,” says Diane

Gallagher, product manager at Royal Robbins. “And we worked with

Invista using some of their Teflon stain repellant finishes on synthetics as

well as applying them to some more technical, synthetic bottom-weight


In addition, Gallagher says Royal Robbins is also incorporating

elasterell-p into denim. “Denim is very strong in the market right

now, and we’ve got a really great functional denim which, because of

the elasterell-p, incorporates stretch and wicking properties,” she says.

“As we go into Spring 2006, another one of the functional features we

are including is a core-spun, polyester wicking fiber that is coated with

cotton so that it has the hand of cotton.”

“The hand demand continues to be strong every season,” says Coville’s

Williams. “The retailer and the consumer always want something softer

so there’s a lot of focus in the manufacturing part of the supply chain to

find ways to make a product softer and softer.”

Softness, in many instances, is being accomplished through the use

of microfiber yarns, higher filament counts in the yarn and knitting

techniques, he says.

“There also has been a bit of a return back to plain surfaces, which

are naturally softer than textures,” adds Williams.

Finishing techniques also can enhance the hand, whether face

finishing, knapping or sueding, he says. “There are also some silicone

finishes that are hydrophilic, meaning that you can put those on the fabric

to give them a nice hand, but they won’t interfere with performance

features like wicking and antimicrobial,” continues Williams.

14|IO May|June 2005

The Poodle Hoody from Mountain Hardwear

Coville offers its bi-component group in three stitch types. There is a

pointelle targeted primarily at women’s wear, a textured filament group

designed to be a little more masculine, and a plain surface double knit.

Another company reacquainting itself with the outdoor trade show

circuit is American Fibers & Yarns Co., which is working to reposition

its performance apparel fiber, Innova. “Through proprietary texturing

techniques, Innova combines the hand and aesthetics of cotton, rayon

and acrylic but with added inherent performance characteristics,”

says Tracey Welch, market development manager for AF&Y. “With

those techniques we can create softer, more colorful and more versatile

garments, from casual apparel to athletic wear and outdoor apparel.”

The fiber, which is used in woven and knitted goods, including

socks, sweaters, jeans, thermals/base layers and fleece garments, touts

aesthetic benefits that include pill resistance, stain and fade resistance and

antimicrobial properties. “Innova is not topically treated so its performance

benefits are inherent in the yarn,” adds Welch. “And garments made with

Innova can be cleaned safely with chlorine bleach.”

Envying Green

While comfort and feel certainly are important to pushing fabric and

apparel, many apparel manufacturers are promoting fabrics that are easy

to care for, something AF&Y speaks to with the bleach-friendliness of

Innova. Kavu, which primarily uses wash-and-wear fabrics in its clothing

lines, continues this trend with garments constructed with a Bamboo

viscose blend, which the company introduced for Spring 2005.

Bamboo provides the durable, broken-in hand Kavu customers

expect, along with adding a component suitable for designing for the

dressed-up consumer. “With the bamboo women’s pieces, we had

this nice dressy, lineny, almost Asian-type fabric feel to it, and those

characteristics influenced how we designed around it,” says Jodi Barr,

Kavu marketing manager.

Aesthetic Characteristics of Popular Synthetic Fibers





PLA Fiber






Source: FabricLink.com

“When we’re designing we’re trying to target an audience interested

in wash and wear,” adds Barr. “I was talking to one of our athletes and

he said, ‘It’s amazing, but over the last year or so, I’ve become a buttondown

shirt guy.’ And that now seems to be a demand from consumers.

They want to be able to get away with wearing outdoor clothing brands

at work.

“We want them to be able to wear our products, look presentable,

then throw it in the washer and dryer and wear it again without any

added care,” continues Barr. “As an outdoor clothing company, we have

to set ourselves apart from the Gap, Banana Republic and those places,

and the best way to that is with the fabrics we use.”

And as usual, it is key for that separation to be communicated on

the retail sales floor. When a sales associate finds a customer looking at

the product, it helps if the employee tells the story behind the fabric.

For instance, when customers are holding a bamboo viscose piece, Barr

suggests something as simple as, “Hey, check this out, it’s bamboo. The

care is really easy because it’s wash and dry. And since bamboo is porous,

it is breathable and wicking which makes it great for traveling.”

And if it’s a fabric that will appeal to an eco-conscious consumer,

a sales associate shouldn’t hold back any information about a fabric’s

origins. “Like with our bamboo,” adds Barr, “we hope they’ll let the

customer know that bamboo is a low-impact, readily available and

renewable resource.”

16|IO May|June 2005

On the Same Page

Luxurious appearance, crisp or soft hand; dyes and prints well; excellent

drape; pill resistant

Soft, wool-like hand; excellent color fastness; resists wrinkles and

shrinkage; excellent pleat retention; flexible aesthetics

Soft hand; resists wrinkles; excellent drape; dyes and prints well

Finer than silk; extremely drapeable; very soft, luxurious hand; excellent

pleat retention; available in acrylic, nylon, polyester and rayon

Similar in appearance and hand to cotton; excellent drape

Crisp, soft hand; resists shrinking; excellent pleat retention

Soft hand; drapes well; dyes and prints well; resists static and pilling

Stretch and recovery; smooth, supple hand; static and pill resistant

Luxurious hand; excellent drape; excellent pleat retention; pill resistant

Whether supplementing function with fashion or implementing

function into fashion, it is imperative for apparel vendors to have

unencumbered dialogue with their fabric and fiber-distributing

partners as they pursue desired techno-fashion mediums. At Royal

Robbins, which offers a wide product base that works with both

synthetic and natural fibers, working closely with its suppliers has

been a key element to their success.

“When we’re concepting, we look at where we want to be at the

end, and that generally starts on the fabric side,” says Gallagher.

“In many cases we work with fiber suppliers and fabric mills as they

develop new methods of finishing. On CoolMax jersey fabric, we

worked with the yarn supplier to get the right blend so that it has a

hand that feels like cotton, while also

incorporating the CoolMax function.

“We work with companies as they

are developing so we can give them our

feedback on how it would be utilized

in our industry,” adds Gallagher.

“We also give them direction on what

fabric mills to use to incorporate and

commercialize some of their fabrics

and finishes.”

At Kavu, Barr says the company’s

designers are always on the lookout for

cool, new natural fabrics. “Suppliers

will offer up some examples and we

might say, ‘That’s great, but for it to

work for us, it needs to be sturdier,

or we need it with a different type of

blend or a certain weight,’” she says.

“A lot times we go back and forth

and often nothing happens … but we’re really excited about the

bamboo because this is one time we got the right blend and the

right way to use it.”

Driving the Markets

The outdoor apparel market originally developed with the male

consumer in mind. Enthusiasts were locked into shopping for

specialty outdoor apparel that contained only the most cutting-edge

technical design with little regard for how it looked or how soft

it felt. But as the years have passed, outdoor apparel has evolved

from its backcountry beginnings to a product category that finds

itself upping its contribution to, if not driving, increasingly high

expectations for function in mainstream fashion—for men, women

and kids. You see it on hiking trails and golf courses, at outdoor

concerts and in your local coffee shop.

“Identifying market segmentation is very important, as is knowing

the consumer,” says Coville’s Williams. “There is an evolution going

on in the apparel market. Five, six, seven years ago you didn’t see as

much performance in the mainstream market as you do today, which

speaks to the transition and growth of performance. It’s important

not only for the apparel people to recognize it but also the fabric

people. We need to answer that demand and be focused on product

development that speaks to that demand.” IO



S a n A n t o n i o , T e x a s • O c t ober 2 7–29, 2005



For information about attending

or exhibiting at IFAI Expo 2005

visit www.ifaiexpo.info

Industrial Fabrics Association International

1801 County Road B W., Roseville, MN 55113 USA

Not-so-Secret Ingredients

What is the value of component co-branding?

by Tony Jones


the race and clamor for market position and consumer

investment, the size of your pie slice is often determined either

by one’s personal fortune and fame or by the quality of the company you

keep. Campbell’s Soup, IBM and Pepsi are household brands that command

attention in their own right, without much pretense or concern from consumers

as to how they are made or what technically differentiates them from their

competitors. Conversely, in order to gain market leverage, lesser-known

brands often turn to the strength of their technology partners in component

co-branding efforts that leverage the value of partnership in promoting the

end-consumer brand alongside a key element in that product’s construction.

This type of ingredient branding is almost always a boost to component

partners, which often exist in fiercely competitive and crowded “behindthe-scenes”

environments. Positive consumer recognition for a component

brand allows that supplier to leverage its position against competitors, which

potentially means commanding premium pricing for its services and increased

demand from other product manufacturers.

The two best examples of this are probably Intel and NutraSweet.

NutraSweet was introduced in 1981 by Monsanto and watched its consumer

brand trust skyrocket after it secured visibility through Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

Within six years, it had produced annual revenues of nearly $850 million

and is now used in more than 3,000 food and beverage brands, according to

Intangible Business, a brand valuation and development consulting firm.

Intel, on the other hand, took its case directly to retailers and consumers

by way of some 200 OEM partners, launching the “Intel Inside” campaign

in 1991. In the midst of a blossoming PC market, Intel’s campaign created a

point of differentiation whereby its message became associated with consumerperceived

quality and reliability. Within four years of exposing its European

markets to the “Intel Inside” campaign, Intel’s consumer recognition

ballooned from 24 percent to 94 percent, according to a case study published

by Intangible Business. In 2001, Intel was listed as the sixth most valuable

brand in the world, with an estimated brand value of $35 billion.

Textile Tech

These business models certainly are not lost on the players inside the

world of textiles and outdoor products. After failing to trademark nylon

as a brand and losing it to the purveyors of generic commodities, DuPont

is credited by many as being among the first to pioneer the concept of

component branding. As a result, Lycra and CoolMax are among the most

well-known textile components recognized by consumers worldwide. In

the outdoor industry, the list of relevant DuPont-created brand names is

particularly impressive when you also consider that Thermolite, Cordura,

Supplex and Tactel originated from the same supplier.

firm based in the United Kingdom.

Noting that this can vary by region, Penman says, “Lycra has a 50

to 100 percent premium over other elastomerics in Europe but only 10

to 15 percent in the United States.” A portion of Lycra’s extraordinary

success in Europe could have resulted from an aggressive $30 million

global advertising campaign that DuPont launched in 1999 to reinforce

the brand and reach a broader audience. Also of note, reports Penman,

was a successful Woolmark campaign that allowed the company to

command nearly twice the price of competing fibers based “solely on

its image.”

The “World of Extremes” – a polarizing marketplace

Growth and perceived customer value

Customers seek low cost for basic

goods with low emotional investment

Mega-players capture market share by

delivering “good enough” value at very

low prices


Source: IBM Institute for Business Value

To get an idea of what the component branding business is worth to our

industry, consider that Koch Industries last year purchased these and other

brands marketed under DuPont Textiles & Interiors for $4.2 billion. The

former DuPont brands now share an impressive stable under the INVISTA

name, alongside original KoSa brands like Polarguard and ESP.

A successful ingredient branding strategy is an endless loop of ebb

and flow between evaluation and validation. A component’s industry

value can be determined by both trade and consumer demand, while

that demand is created by trade and consumer perceptions of value

added to an end product. When it works, the payoff can be lucrative

because the value-add is typically in the form of functional features that

improve a product’s technical performance, quality or aesthetics. This

could mean softness provided through Tencel, stretch from Lycra or

waterproof/breathable functionality by Gore-Tex.

“Branded fibers in clothing can command high premiums usually

between 20 to 50 percent, and sometimes higher, than their equivalent

non-branded products,” writes Jessica Penman in a 2002 special focus

report on textile branding for David Rigby Associates, a textile consulting

20|IO May|June 2005

“Bell curves”


competitors fade into


“Well curves”

Competitive spectrum

Elements that Impact Purchase Decisions

Tangible Influences

Intangible Factors

Element Types

Consumer wants and needs

Consumer actions

Competitor actions

Source: IBM Institute for Business Value

Consumer beliefs and emotions

The Gore Point

As with most textile discussions in the outdoor

industry, the conversation inevitably circles around

to Gore-Tex. This isn’t by accident. While outdoor

products feature several noteworthy component

brands, including Vibram, YKK and Polartec,

none commands the general consumer recognition

or trust enjoyed by Gore.

While Vibram outsoles and Polartec fleece

products are arguably the premium standards by

which competitors in the market are compared,

they simply have not burrowed their way into

the public’s brand consciousness like Gore-Tex.

Consider that in a 2004 Gallup poll conducted on

behalf of Gore, 58 percent of respondents said they were aware of the

Gore-Tex brand, and half of those said they had purchased a Gore-Tex

product. If we are to believe the numbers, that means that more than 200

million people in America are at least familiar with the brand. That’s a

powerful stick to wield, and it slipped into the hands of W.L. Gore and

Associates because it blazed a trail that parallels the success of brands

like Intel.

Frankly, if you’re going to be a successful component brand, it certainly

helps to be the inventor of a category or the first to market it. But you

also have to craft a product that works, capture demand and deliver. You

also have to be marketing savvy, and Gore believed, like Intel, that the

path to ultimate success begins right at the gate of consumer awareness,

particularly backpacking and mountaineering enthusiasts.

“Since there was not a lot of market inertia with consumers asking

for something that they had

no idea existed, we went to

the consumer directly and

Customers seek greater “personal

value” when purchasing goods with

high emotional importance

Differentiated specialists build

profitable niches by delivering relevant

value to targeted groups of customers



told them the story and

created that pull through,”

says Steve Shuster, Gore-Tex

brand manager. “In turn,

that end consumer started

going into their local retail

or specialty shop and asking

for this Gore-Tex fabric stuff

they heard about.”

Although it proved to be

an expensive proposition, the

idea worked. Retailers that

were pressed about the fabric

called manufacturers who, in turn, inquired to Gore about the technology.

Landing The North Face as a licensee certainly went a long way toward

building credibility, but Shuster says the real turning point was the

initiation of Gore’s “Guaranteed to Keep You Dry” campaign in 1989.

• Most preferred product features

• Preferred information sources

• Envisioning the best purchase within budget

• Seeking new options and ideas

• Setting product and service prices

• Launching new marketing campaigns

• Brand reputations of companies A, B and C

• Emotional drivers for purchase

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Join us in the fight to make clean air in the national

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“[Prior to the campaign] consumers were not satisfied,” recalls

Shuster. “They were calling Gore saying they were getting wet and

talking about it in terms of their ‘Gore-Tex jacket.’”

To Gore, that meant consumers were equating the failure of a garment

with the PTFE membrane instead of the manufacturer’s construction of

the end product. Gore’s guarantee was initiated to preserve the integrity

of the product, as well as strengthen its brand value.

“We really had no other choice if we were going to be in this for the

long haul,” says Shuster. “We developed end-performance specifications

that really set us apart.”

The result reinforced Gore’s pull-through model, increasing demand

from would-be licensees and strengthened consumer belief in the

technology. What we have today is a brand used as a point of reference

by product manufacturers and retailers and a full-fledged trust mark

with consumers.

Elbow Room

Gore’s lofty position doesn’t leave a lot of space for competitors

to grab large portions of market share, and the company’s

dominance is somewhat of a microcosm of occurrences within

general consumer products as a whole. In a 2002 brand study

published by IBM Business Consulting Services, analysts wrote,

“It is estimated that just 150 SKUs in a household provide over 80

percent of a family’s needs.” Moreover, new brands that enter the

market have been slow to garner sales, and many struggle just to

stay in business.

“An IRI Information Resources study concluded that 80 percent

of new brands’ year-one sales have been below $10 million and only 3

percent have been over $50 million,” say IBM analysts. “Additionally, an

analysis has shown that more than half of new products introduced in 20

categories failed within two years of introduction.”

That doesn’t mean there isn’t room for success. Competitors and

their partners must be targeted and strategic, if not realistic, about the

type and amount of business they believe they can win. A good start is to

find a point of differentiation.

“It’s very difficult to come up with your own proprietary type of

technology and compete against Gore,” says one industry veteran.

“Many people will try to approach it from a different angle, such as

through coatings, so they are not competing head to head.”

The real challenge is in creating demand. IBM analysts suggest

companies become “either a manufacturing company or a branding

company, and adopt an operating model that fits. Choosing brings

consumer importance and retail leverage into greater clarity, and focuses

resources on core capabilities and on the things that give competitive


Analysts suggest a back-to-basics grass-roots attitude, hitting the

pavement in an attempt to earn a groundswell of consumer and retail

support. Ultimately, IBM analysts say, competing brands have to move

away from simply offering products and, instead, foster solutions that fill

the life needs of consumers. Value is then placed on bundled products

and services, co-branded products, brands that extend across categories

and products that provide new benefits.

This is potentially good news for textile components fighting for their

fair share of the pie. In the tight waterproof/breathable space, eVENT

has displayed some of this tenacity in winning support from European

retailers and respected European product manufacturers like 66 o North

and Vaude. The company also has received consumer kudos domestically

from independent gear heads, and in today’s realm of viral marketing,

the worth of Internet-savvy early adopters spreading their good words

via e-mail and blogs may prove to be invaluable.

Still, these are small steps, and for any ingredient brand trying to

make a name for itself and build value among consumers, retailers

and manufacturers, the endeavor is a lengthy and expensive process.

“Length of time is a function of investment,” says an industry insider.

“If you wanted to do it all today and wanted to invest into some global

ad campaigns that hit many different levels, you could certainly shorten

the length of time. At the same time, though, you’re taking on a ton

of risk.”

Part of the danger is in placing resources. If a branding relationship

is successful in one step of the push model with retailers, will it have

the resources to pull customers into the stores? “Creating that perfect

balance is so difficult because if you create tremendous sell-in and wind

up with a ton of retail product on the floor that doesn’t sell out, it’s a big

issue for the following year,” confides an industry source. “You lose a

level of trust that is difficult to get back.”

Name Game

Much rests on the nature of the co-branding relationships. In all,

there seems to be few drawbacks for component brands entering into an

ingredient brand strategy with a product manufacturer. Partnering with

an established brand with hangtags and logos on product is a virtual

endorsement to the consumer by the host company that the component

technology works, whether it’s an insulation, DWR coating or moisture

management solution. Likewise, if the ingredient brand is well known to

consumers, then a lesser known product brand benefits from perceived

quality and credibility. Additional benefits can include shared production

costs, promotions, advertising and research and development. For both

parties it is strength by association, where the whole is greater than the

sum of the parts.

“Competition is so stiff out there that almost every product is a

commodity, and if you’ve got a technological difference that can be

twisted into a healthy branding story, then it’s a barrier to entry,” notes

another industry veteran. “You can create a little more value there, and

there’s not a lot of that when you’re talking about raw materials in terms

of fibers and yarns.”

But product manufacturers also can be leery of branding their names

alongside a component that is widely used in an industry out of fear

that the ingredient relationship will genericize the technology and, thus,

weaken the product’s brand strength. The opposite side to that coin is

what is at risk by not incorporating or promoting the use of a CoolMax

or Lycra? If a component brand is well known and trusted among a

majority of general consumers, then some customers may be suspicious

as to why certain products wouldn’t include it as a component.

Although IBM uses Intel’s microprocessors in some of its PCs, it does

not actively market the relationship, and the familiar “Intel Inside” swirl

that has helped bolster countless other computer brands does not appear

on IBM products or packaging. IBM’s reasoning could be that it didn’t

want to risk diluting its own brand strength by lumping itself with lesserknown

brands that use the same Pentium chip technology.

This is a legitimate fear among brands that view themselves as

achieving premium status. In a report on ingredient branding published

by Landor Associates, the consulting firm recalls a study conducted by



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Research International in which consumers were shown several brands

of chocolate chip cookies and asked if the addition of a premium brand

of chocolate chips would increase the appeal of those cookie brands.

While consumers believed the premium brand chips enhanced the

value of middle-tier cookie brands, they thought the chips actually

lessened the brand value of Pepperidge Farm. Consumers considered

Pepperidge Farm to be a premium brand by itself and assumed that

its cookies already contained the highest quality ingredients. “Instead

of reinforcing consumers’ positive perceptions, the heralding of a new,

premium ingredient actually generated consumer skepticism,” according

to the Landor report.

Stages of the Consumer Purchase Process



Shopping and

purchase stage

Source: IBM Institute for Business Value



Target decision:

Choice of




In the outdoor industry, several major brands choose to tout “secret”

ingredients in the form of proprietary components and technology, rather

than promote an outside brand used by competitors. Not surprisingly, this

occurs quite a bit within the waterproof/breathable and moisture management

categories. Thus, consumers are treated to names like Helly Hansen’s Helly

Tech, Columbia Sportswear’s OmniTech and Patagonia’s Capilene.

Typical Fiber Brand Support Activities

End-user Type

Spinners, weavers,

finishers and printers

Garment manufacturers

and retailers


Source: David Rigby Associates

Brand Support Activities

Trade advertising

Trend information

Trade show attendance

Trade show sponsorship

Technical assistance

New product development

Point-of-sale material

Trade advertising




Retailer info packs and education

Fabric fairs

Branding and quality assurance programs

Swing tickets

Explanatory leaflets

In-store promotions

Fashion magazine advertising

Designer link-ups


In each of these instances, the manufacturers’ names remain the topline

focus and, in effect, position them as developers of sophisticated

technology. With strong brand loyalty among their core customers, this

likely bolsters their value. Interestingly enough, these brands and several

others don’t exclude component brands entirely. Instead, they pick and

choose to offer products and SKUs where they see strategic advantages

to do so.

Promoting a product brand without a component brand may also

afford manufacturers complete control over the promotion of particular

silhouettes and when and how a technology is used within a product.

“Why be one of many?” asks a former industry veteran who has

worked with several major brands. “Why not create your own technology

if you’re going to spend that many dollars anyway?”

For component suppliers, dealing with manufacturers that want

to use their premium branded product but would rather not promote

the component brand name, licensing negotiations can be a frustrating


“Brand confusion, brand delusion is a critical issue,” asserts Shuster.

“In today’s market, there is this explosion of waterproof/breathable as a

kind of cost of entry. If it’s not waterproof/breathable, it’s very difficult

to sell anything.

“There’s a lot of confusion in the marketplace. We’re going to be

taking a more aggressive approach,” he continues, noting that Gore

will encourage consumers to look to its label for waterproof/breathable

authenticity. “If we’re doing our job correctly, innovating and keeping

the energy going into the brand, then our partners are going to want

to use [the Gore-Tex brand] on the outside. If not, then we’ll have

those discussions, and I’m not so sure how we’ll continue to have those


Consumer’s Choice

The offshoot to all of this is what do end consumers care about? Are

they more concerned with the performance of the component technologies

or in the trust they’ve enlisted with a favorite manufacturer brand?

Frankly, it’s difficult to tell. Industry veterans contacted for this

story were split on what is currently driving consumer decisions.

“The [primary] brand name is the first thing they look for to

determine if they’re loyal to that brand or can identify with that brand,”

offers one insider who believes component brands are becoming less

important. “If they believe in the brand and it stands for innovation,

leading edge and so on, they’re more apt to purchase it. That’s more

difficult for a small, lesser-known brand with their own proprietary

technology. They’re going to have to spend more marketing dollars to

educate the consumer or retail channel.”

Going forward, product positioning appears to be paramount. The

danger is in disappearing from consumer consciousness completely.

Many believe consumerism is fast becoming a polarized marketplace,

where consumers seek goods either with lower prices and “good

enough” value on a mass level or goods offering “high personal” value,

emotional fulfillment and perceived relevance on a specialty level.

While this bodes well potentially for the specialty channel,

middle-tier brands may be forced with unpleasant choices.

To optimize an ingredient branding strategy, the component

supplier and product manufacturer must create the perception

of premium value or risk falling into a group that IBM analysts

call “undifferentiated competitors” that “fade into irrelevance.”

There’s certainly no value in that. IO

24|IO May|June 2005

Threads & Spins

Outdoor Textiles News and Notes


The board of Australian Wool Services Ltd. has proposed

a single vision approach for the wool industry that would see

the structural integration of Australian Wool Innovation Ltd. and

Australian Wool Services under the management of a single board

and single executive. AWS officials believe stronger unity between

the two organizations will improve relationships within the processing

and retail sectors and help build global demand for Australian

merino wool.

“The Australian wool industry has fallen well behind in the

marketing of its product compared to its major competitors of cotton

and man-made fibers,” said Trevor Flugge, AWS chairman.

The integration also would pave the way for increased joint

funding and partnering on marketing projects on behalf of the

Australian wool industry and drive unified efforts with research and

development and technology.

The earliest a formal proposal could be brought to shareholders

would likely be late this year, the companies said.

Global View

China’s textile and apparel exports to the United States grew by

63 percent in the first quarter of the year, according to preliminary

data released by the federal government and reported by World

Global Style Network. China’s success has reignited concerns for

protection from the domestic textile industry.

The amount of wool exported from China to the U.S. between

January and March grew 62.5 percent from the same period a

year ago. In individual categories, WGSN reported that the biggest

increase was in cotton and synthetic fiber trousers, which grew

1,521 percent. Cotton knit shirts grew by 1,257 percent, while

synthetic filament fabrics grew 769 percent.

The American Manufacturing Trade Action Coalition reported

that 17,200 U.S. textile and apparel manufacturing jobs have been

lost this year and said those losses would likely continue to mount

unless the U.S. government initiates safeguards. Employment in

the U.S. textile industry has fallen 36.4 percent from 1.05 million

workers in January 2001 to 665,900 in March 2005, WGSN

reported …

United States imports of textiles and apparel grew in volume

and value in December 2004, as well as for the year, and showed

a steady rise continuing in January, according to The Woolmark Co.

26|IO May|June 2005

Wool textiles and apparel saw the largest gain of all fiber types in all

three periods, Woolmark reported.

Although China was the largest supplier for all U.S. textile and

apparel requirements in both December and aggregate 2004, India

was the main supplier to the U.S. of wool textiles and apparel,

ahead of Italy and Canada. In January, China gained first position

with an outstanding lift in aggregate wool apparel volumes imported,

Woolmark said …

In its 2004 annual report, Australian Wool Services Ltd.

reported that global net domestic wool availability was down by 18

percent in total and 25 percent in the apparel sector from 2000

to 2003. The company predicted that global wool production would

increase 2 percent during the 2004-2005 season, for the first time

since 1989-1990.

Fashion forecasts for last year and this year also indicate “a

return to smarter dressing and natural fibers, with wool expected to

have a higher significant presence at retail” for fall in the Northern


Products & Programs

dri-release with FreshGuard has caught the eye of designers

outside the sports apparel market, with women’s casual wear lines

featuring dri-release recently launched by two women athletes familiar

with the technology. Janice Fetter founded Spooney Wearever in

Charleston, S.C. as a casual/loungewear line, and Helen Rockey

has launched Seattle-based wildbleu sleepwear.

Both Spooney and wildbleu are using dri-release cotton knits, a

combination of a special co-polymer polyester and cotton. While the

fabric possesses the feel and appearance of 100 percent cotton, it

has a softer drape and is wash and wear.

Both Fetter and Rockey set out to create multi-use apparel that

allows a woman to feel fresh and comfortable around the clock.

Another new market to embrace dri-release technology is next-tobody

daywear such as bras and briefs, said Karen Deniz, president

of Optimer’s European division and head of marketing. Optimer also

expects dri-release with FreshGuard to soon be available in dress

shirts and uniforms …

IFAI Expo 2005 will be held Oct. 27-29 at the Henry B. Gonzalez

Convention Center in San Antonio. More than 8,000 participants are

expected to take part in the expo’s exhibits, educational programs

and other events. This year’s educational program features more

than 90 sessions, offering a combination of technical papers,

seminars, case studies and panel discussions.

Included among the 14 market-specific tracks are business and

leadership, sports and recreation, and textiles and graphics …

Australian Wool Innovation Ltd. has pledged $5 million to

an international apparel marketing pilot program. In April the

International Wool Textile Organization Retail Taskforce requested

funding from woolgrowers, international wool and textile businesses

in part to help market merino wool globally.

AWI’s pledge is contingent on being matched dollar for dollar by other

international wool and textile businesses. The offer expires Aug. 31 …

The reconstruction and expansion of Schoeller’s headquarters in

Sevelen, Switzerland, recently passed the halfway mark. The textile

company has been concerned with space restrictions in recent years

and decided to expand its high-performance weaving mill, as well as

the entire dye works and finishing department at the Swiss facility.

In addition, a new logistics center is under construction with the aim

of increasing supply readiness and customer service.

In the context of the expansion work, and in addition to other

measures, a new exhaust air purification plant also is being installed.

a welcome figure considering the company’s string of consecutive

net earnings losses of $28.2 million, $1.5 million, $7.6 million and

$1.5 million in each quarter last year. Sales climbed to $386.3

million for the first quarter this year, which was $92.5 million or 31

percent higher than the same period a year ago and $14.1 million or

4 percent higher than the previous record set in the fourth quarter

last year. This increase was attributed to higher selling prices. The

quarterly earnings were Wellman’s highest since the second quarter

of 2002.

Achievements & Awards

Malden Mills Industries Inc. finalized its senior management

team, appointing Jonathan Adelman as executive vice president of

global sales and Edward Schade as chief financial officer. Adelman

and Schade join COO Andrew Vecchione under the direction of new

CEO Michael Spillane, who joined the company in July last year.

Adelman has nearly 30 years of executive experience in the

textile and apparel industry. He comes to Malden from New River

Industries where he served as managing director. Prior to New

River, Adelman was president and CEO of Lida Stretch Fabrics and

China’s textile and apparel exports to the United States grew by 63 percent in

the first quarter of the year. The biggest increase was in cotton and synthetic

fiber trousers, which grew 1,521 percent. Cotton knit shirts grew by 1,257

percent, while synthetic filament fabrics grew 769 percent.

The plant will be linked to the existing machinery as well as a new,

large-scale coating plant. Schoeller expects these measures to

reduce emissions by 80 percent and cut energy input by 20 percent.

The system is equipped with an electro filter and a wet filter that

make it possible to purify the exhaust air while at the same time

recover the heat. The move highlights Schoeller’s commitment to

the bluesign standard for safe and sustainable textile production.

The current construction is due to be completed Sept. 5 …

PrimaLoft has signed on as a supporter of the Northern

Forest Canoe Trail project, a 740-mile water trail which links the

watersheds of northern New York, Vermont, Quebec, New Hampshire

and Maine.

“The Northern Forest Canoe Trail project is a great example of

how private landowners, state and federal agencies and businesses

can work together to create an ideal recreational area that benefits

everyone,” said Tom Mendl, marketing director for PrimaLoft. “The

trail is virtually in our back yard, and we feel it is important to support

such a worthwhile project.”


Wellman Inc. reported its second consecutive quarter with record

sales and recorded its highest quarterly net profits in nearly three

years. Earnings for the quarter ended March 31 were $11 million,

business manager/director of marketing of Milliken & Co. He will

oversee sales in Asia and Europe, as well as in North America.

Schade brings more than 35 years of corporate finance experience

to Malden, most recently as CFO with The Hinckley Company …

Smart Fabric Technology by Outlast Technologies was inducted

into the Space Technology Hall of Fame April 7, as one of four 2005

honorees, joining 48 previous innovators. Outlast founders Ed Payne

and Bernie Perry were honored as Individual Inductees, and Individual

Commendation awards recognizing those instrumental in bringing

the technology to market included Martin Bentz, managing director

of Outlast Europe; Roland Cox, Acordis Acrylic Fibers; Andrew Bell,

global product manager for Ciba; and Monte Magill, vice president

of business development for Outlast Technologies …

Former DuPont employees Don Sandusky and Michael O’Neill

have opened a product laboratory called PRIMO Innovations in

Newark, Del. The new company will offer comprehensive materials

science-based product innovation and product development services,

specializing in recreational equipment and sports gear.

Since June 2004, PRIMO has worked with a major U.S. sporting

goods brand to develop and commercialize advancements in the

bicycle tire and inner tube categories. The company’s NeverFlat

technology promises to improve pressure retention of inflated sports

products, according to Sandusky, PRIMO president. IO

May|June 2005 IO |27

Image Courtesy of Royal Robbins

U p h i l l C l i m b

O f f e r i n g t r a v e l s e r v i c e s c a n b e a r e a l a d v e n t u r e

by Lou Dzierzak

If you’ve thought about adding adventure travel as an ancillary

service to help differentiate your store and provide the springboard

for you to circumnavigate the globe, you’re certainly not alone. It’s a

romantic business notion that will most certainly enable you to see

and experience many exotic lands. But it’s also a juggernaut of time

consumption, logistics and low revenue.

“It is a very difficult business requiring a great deal of time,

generating little on the bottom line,” confides Steve Piragis, owner of

Piragis Northwoods.

Located near the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness in

northern Minnesota, Piragis Northwoods began offering guided

28|IO May|June 2005

paddling trips in 1979 and expanded to international tours in 1995.

“We wanted to go on these trips ourselves, go along as guides and

hopefully make some profit at it,” recalls Piragis. “Everybody I know

who is in the business started because they wanted to see the world.”

Despite troubling economic times and gloomy forecasts, the

romanticism Americans invest in adventure travel seems to at

least give the idea some merit. According to the Outdoor Industry

Association’s 2004 Participation Study, the popularity of adventure/

outdoor activity vacations increased 14 percent in 2003, with some

54.9 million people participating in vacations that were inspired by

outdoor adventure activities.

In addition, the Travel Industry Association of America (TIA)

last year cast a favorable outlook toward adventure travel, reporting

during its 30th annual Marketing Outlook Forum that 44 percent

of CrossSphere (formerly the National Tour Association) operators

offered soft adventure tours in 2003, up from 25 percent in 2001. In

contrast, Hard adventures were offered by 10 percent of CrossSphere

operators during that same period, a 3 percent increase from 2001.

Likewise, the Adventure Travel Trade Association (ATTA)

reports that “there are roughly 10,000 operators that offer adventure

travel as part of their business.”

The point is that whether travelers are interested in “soft” activities

like camping, easy hiking and horseback riding or “hard” activities

like whitewater kayaking, rugged backpacking and spelunking

matters less than the mere fact that they are motivated to travel and

apparently willing to spend their money.

Last year, TIA forecasted a 6.9 percent gain in total direct

domestic and international travel expenditures in the United States

for 2004, which would account for $592.6 billion. The organization

expected travel expenditures to increase through 2006, predicting

a 5.3 percent increase this year to reach $624.1 billion in travel

expenditures, which would break the $600 billion mark for the

first time.

What percentage of that will be allocated to adventure travel is

unclear, but the willingness of would-be travelers to want to spend

their money is certainly encouraging.

“Folks are looking for something above and beyond. Something

extra. Something different,” says Ed Schiller, director of Wild River

Outfitters Touring Co. in Virginia Beach, Va. The company gained

a solid reputation for its local guiding trips before branching out

to adventure travel destinations such as the Caribbean and Belize.

“We’ve been in business for over 25 years, and I thought if I could put

together an international trip, our regular customers would know we

would do it right.”

Not All Fun in the Sun

The excitement of international travel and the satisfaction of

offering customers once-in-a-lifetime memories can be tempered by

the work involved to pull it all off. “For the most part, customers

are looking for us to handle all the details,” explains Schiller. “They

expect one-stop shopping. Tell me what the price is and take care of

everything from there.”

Offering trips to locations like Chile, Belize, Costa Rica,

Greenland, Iceland, Turkey and Vietnam requires tremendous

dedication from a point person and additional staff, says Piragis.

“It’s a huge time commitment; it takes away from everything else I

do. It takes a lot of time and money to set these up, get insurance

and get customers. It changed the way I do my business. I have a

crew of 26 people working with me, so I can take time to do some

of this. You need at least one full-time person, possibly more, to

handle it.”

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Both Wild River Outfitters and Piragis Northwoods rely on

partners in the destination country to help with equipment, local

knowledge and guide support. “It’s impossible to do the trips we

do without having someone there with the gear, guides and local

knowledge,” explains Piragis.

Taking the time to find the right partners is an important step

in ensuring a safe and successful journey. “We screen them pretty

closely and we’ve enjoyed good relationships with the outfitters we’ve

selected,” offers Schiller. “They provide all the things we need for our

guests that we can’t bring along.”

When arranging trips to Belize, Schiller considers several options:

“I can charter the trip, meaning I buy the trip and it’s up to me to sell

the trip, or I can add people to the charter company’s existing trips.

Obviously, I’d rather charter the trip, but I have to accept the risk of

selling it.”

Securing customer commitments can be a difficult task.

Marketing and promoting the adventure travel service can take more

time and resources than the trip itself. “The trips are present all over

the store [with photographs, posters and brochures]. You can’t walk

into the store without knowing that we offer trips all over the world,”

says Piragis.

Customers are invited to attend slide shows and clinics presented

by past participants who add credibility to the pitch. Getting

customers to commit money and register is critical to success.

“Running the trip is difficult, but selling the trip is the hardest part,”

offers Piragis. “It’s always been that way no matter if you are outfitting

in the Boundary Waters Canoe Area or Chile. Marketing the trip

and the actual selling is harder than you imagine.”

Schiller says his existing customer base is the best source for

selling trips. “I have a good database of customers who have taken

trips with us in the past,” he says. “We send out an e-newsletter that

highlights things like our Caribbean trips. We have loyal customers,

and the best advertising is a satisfied customer’s word of mouth.”

Once registered, customer service requires managing

expectations and confirming checklist after checklist of details.

“We clearly set out the guidelines. We spell out the activities on the

trip. We give them a comprehensive package of information about

passport, licenses and more,” says Schiller.

Customers also receive information about purchasing travel

insurance. “If you want to go to the Caribbean in September or

October at the tail end of the hurricane season, travel insurance

can cover trip cancellations, delayed flights, lost bags and medical

emergencies,” he says. Travel Guard International offers customers

comprehensive trip-based insurance coverage, including medical

evacuation coverage, adds Schiller.

Logistics are always an issue, and each destination offers its

own set of challenges. “It’s very difficult setting up transportation to

remote sites,” notes Piragis. “Charter flights, connection issues, travel

insurance … it’s complicated. We are prepared with contingency

plans for everything. Liability insurance is a large expense.”

Schiller agrees: “Liability insurance rates in the outdoor industry

have gone up significantly in the last couple of years. If there is an

incident somewhere, it gets nationwide [media] coverage and that

affects your rates for your trips.”

Great Expectations

As customers prepare for a trip, a logical assumption would be

that customers’ preparation for the journey could be a nice bolster

to gear sales. Although additional purchases of trip-related clothing

and accessories do take place, both Piragis and

Schiller report that they do not typically account

for significant amounts.

Similarly, one might also assume that

gathering a dozen strangers with different skill

levels and expectations together for the first time

in a new environment could lead to personality

conflicts, but Piragis says the opposite is

typically true.

“To be honest, we haven’t had to deal with

that problem,” he says. “We don’t do anything

high adventure; we do easy trips for average

paddlers. Most of the people on these trips

are not aggressive 25-year-olds. They are baby

boomers who want someone to show them these

beautiful places.”

This is an important point and an opportunity

to target a very specific customer segment

inside your store. Older travelers can exhibit a

more refined sense of community, patience and

acceptance, and are less likely to be irresponsible

during the trip. They also have deeper pockets.

In its 1997 Adventure Travel Report, TIA

reported that travelers venturing outside the

continental United States were typically college

educated with a median age of 43.5 and a median

household income of $73,000. Although this

information has not been updated, it’s likely

that the age of travelers has remained fairly

constant, while their household incomes have

probably increased.

Another characteristic of soft adventure

travelers is that they are more likely to bring their

spouses and children, which also creates a family

vacation opportunity. In that same Adventure

Travel Report, TIA noted that 60 percent of

soft adventure travelers took their spouses as

compared to only 42 percent of hard adventure

travelers, and 41 percent of soft adventurers

included either their children or grandchildren

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during their most recent trip as compared to an understandably

lower 18 percent of hard adventurers.

Although neither Piragis nor Schiller have experienced any

major conflicts during a trip, strangers suddenly thrust together,

spousal squabbles and sibling rivalries all hold the potential to be

combustible situations.

“We train our guides to adapt and recognize a situation that’s

developing and handle it,” says Schiller. “We’ve had good chemistry

on most of our trips. We try to keep the groups to 10 to 12 people. It’s

more sociable, and they feel like they are getting personal attention.”

Piragis takes a similar approach: “We hire mature people to

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guide the trips who have life experiences and

understand personalities and group dynamics.

Our guides are in their 50s and 60s. They’ve

CrossSphere Operators’ Products

firm. “It’s hard to sell a trip if you haven’t

been on it,” notes Piragis. “We bring

potential partners along so they can

Percentage of CrossSphere Operators

Source: CrossSphere and TIA

been around. The most important thing we

do is send an e-mail to our customers about

a week before the trip telling them that the

most important thing they can bring along is

a good attitude. It works well.”

The Long Haul

If you are considering adding an

adventure travel component to your

business, keep in mind that you won’t

likely blaze any revenue trails. Building the

business requires time and patience.

experience the destination this year and

then sell it the next.”

Schiller agrees. “The outfitters that

I deal with are reputable. I know they

are going to do it first class,” he says. “If

it’s something new, I will go and check

it out first so I can market it fairly. It’s

easy to talk about if you have first-hand


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Source: TIA and OTTI

“Our travel business has been growing

but only because of the groundwork laid

in the past,” says Piragis. “We’ve been

offering Boundary Waters trips since

1979 and international trips since 1995.

It takes that long to build credibility and

gain a core group of participants that keep

coming back year after year. Those are the

people that support the business.”

One way to add adventure travel

services is to partner with an experienced

If you are serious about adding an

adventure travel component to your

business, you may want to consider attending

the Adventure Travel Trade Association’s

World Adventure Travel Summit in

Seattle, Oct. 16-18. Expert presenters will

discuss marketing challenges, liability

insurance, consumer trends and how to

expand the adventure travel marketplace.

More information can be found at




Data Points

Numbers worth noting

by Martin Vilaboy



Rich Content Radio

Adults with household incomes of $75,000 spend between

six and eight hours with the media on an average weekday. And

in almost all markets, radio and television occupies half or more


of that total time per adult, say researchers at International

Demographics. In many markets, radio gets the lion’s share






of minutes with media and appears to be the best means

for targeting affluent Americans. That’s particularly true when

considering that more and more adults are using more than

one media at a time, says Bob Jordan, president of International

Demographics, but much of radio listening is done while in the

car, suggesting higher levels of attention. The impact of satellite

radio is still unclear but certainly growing.

Media Habits of Affluent Adults

Market Media Minutes Share Media Exposure


Radio 143 32.8%

Television 123 28.3%

Print Media 27 6.2%

Outdoor 78 18.0%

Web Sites 63 14.5 %

Jackson, MS

Radio 115 25.2%

Television 170 37.2%

Print Media 27 5.9%

Outdoor 87 19.0%

Web Sites 58 12.7%


Radio 204 38.3%

Television 163 30.6%

Print Media 27 5.1%

Outdoor 79 15.0%

Web Sites 59 11.0%


Radio 134 30.9%

Television 125 28.7%

Print Media 25 5.8%

Outdoor 84 19.3%

Web Sites 67 15.4%

Salt Lake City

Radio 140 33.8%

Television 115 27.7%

Print Media 25 5.9

Outdoor 73 17.7

Web Sites 61 14.8


Radio 130 30.8

Television 125 29.7

Print Media 23 5.3

Outdoor 78 18.5

Web Sites 66 15.8

Source: The Media Audit

34|IO May|June 2005

Retired but Still Working

As retailers increasingly look to retired and semi-retired

professionals to bolster their part-time work forces, it’s probably

worth noting that older Americans are looking for more than pay

in their “post-career” jobs. A survey of adults of more than 40

years of age by JWT Mature Market Group and ThirdAge found

that personal fulfillment was a primary factor in the decision to

work in retirement. What’s more, of those who say they plan to

“fully retire,” 70 percent say they plan to continue working at

least occasionally in some form.

Key Reasons for Continuing to Work after

Retiring, Among those 40 or Older

Stay mentally active 74%

Be productive or useful 63%

Stay physically active 62%

Be around people 55%

Keep learning new things 52%

Source: JWT Mature Market Group and ThirdAge

Loyalty Does Not Equal Exclusivity

“The idea of customer loyalty, where consumers shop

exclusively at a particular retail store, ceased to exist long

ago,” says Gary Drenik, analyst with BIGresearch. Loyalty has

been replaced by cross shopping, says Drenik, so your best

customers are also likely shopping your competitors.

Sample of Leading Retailers That Share a

Majority of their Best Customers with Wal-Mart



% Best Customers

Shared with Wal-Mart

Shoes Payless 71%

Electronics Best Buy 62%

Linens & bedding Bed, Bath & Beyond 54%

Home improvement Home Depot 64%

Prescriptions Walgreens 71%

Groceries Kroger 65%

Source: BIGresearch

A Big Problem?

Whether or not childhood obesity is a national crisis,

marketing outdoor recreation as a way to combat obesity should

resonate well, at least on some levels.

Concern Regarding Childhood Obesity

Believe it is a …

All Adults

Parent or Guardian of

Child Aged 12 and Under

A major problem 77% 70%

A minor problem 21% 27%

Not a problem at all 2% 3%

Source: Harris Interactive

“…In my 15 years in the

outdoor industry, I have

rarely come across a project

with the unique combination

of virtue and service to

community as Medicines


Kenji Haroutunian


Medicines Global Celebrates 5 years

'Inspiring' Travelers to Give Back

“ Most adventure travelers

want to give back to places they

visit without corrupting the

culture. The idea of bringing

medicines, which are badly

needed, to drop off at designated

sites is the most beneficial

way to give back. The power

of numbers is significant.”

Greg Wozer

Vice President


“We proudly support the mission

of Medicines Global(GB).

Quietly yet strongly affecting

global health through adventure

travelers. Helping bring

basic humanitarian first aid

supplies to the remote regions

of Nepal…and the planet.”

Johnnie Kern - Team Member

Medicines Global(GB)

the humanitarian support arm for the

Tsangpo Expedition, 2002

Baby Friendly Hos pital - Lhasa, Tibet

"...as people, our highest calling is to make a positive contribution

to the world around us - wherever we are. Because we

and the outdoor industry as a whole make our living helping

people explore the globe, supporting Medicines Global(GB)

is a natural choice. Through them, we not only contribute to

the many communities that embrace our outdoor athletes, we

also enable adventure travelers to do the same."

Carry Porter

Director of Sponsorship Management


Michael Besancon


Southern Pacific Region





medicines global(gb)

1524 s rexford drive

los angeles, ca 90035


Charlie Munsey ©2002

Help your customers “give back” today by sending them to






Fast, Light and Out of Control

by Stuart Craig

You might have heard something about “emergent

behavior.” It’s how birds flock, how ant colonies move and how

large populations in general become greater than the sum of

their parts and act with, well, “emergent” intelligence. It’s the

theory of the hive mind or of the swarm, the idea that there’s

nothing innate in a single molecule of water that predicts a

whirlpool or in a single snowflake that predicts an avalanche.

It’s also one of the central concepts of Kevin Kelly’s

outstanding book Out of Control, which is sort of an operator’s

manual for living in this era of information overload and total

connectivity. Reading it made me think that maybe, just maybe,

this emergent behavior thing explains how marketing often

unfolds in the outdoor industry.

is titled “America’s Hardest Dayhikes,” and the taglines crow

that “you can pull off the walk of a lifetime in one day. Just be

forewarned: It’s going to be a very, very long one.” The shortest

hike? Try 18 miles with 10,000 feet of elevation change. The

longest is 41 miles with a 12,000-foot change in elevation.

Even the Christian Science Monitor has taken up the cause.

In the Sept. 30, 2004 edition, author Todd Wilkinson writes

about GoLite founder and president Demetri “Coup” Coupounas

and his solo unsupported trek of Vermont’s 280-mile Long Trail

(12 days, 19 hours, 53 minutes) and Ryan Jordan’s electronic

magazine/forum/pay-to-join community BackpackingLight.com.

These two, says Wilkinson, are “leading a revolution that strips

conventional hiking down to its sparest essentials.”

Either fast-packing is indeed super popular among outdoor

enthusiasts or it’s a case of an emergent pattern, sort of like

how bees choose a new site for their hive.

Specifically, I’m thinking of fast-packing, that darling du jour.

Fast-packing and its equally nebulous cousins, “fast and light”

and “done in a day,” (three terms often used interchangeably

and/or as modifiers of each other) are everywhere — from

ads, to sport-specific magazine articles, to product catalogs, to

mainstream publications.

According to GoLite’s full-page, part one of three, “Special

Advertisement” in the latest Backpacker, “Fast-packing is hiking

more miles per day than with traditional backpacking.” It is “well

within reach for anyone in reasonable shape who is willing to

try a new approach,” which, for “the elite,” translates to making

“40, 50, even 60 miles per day…routine.”

In that same issue of Backpacker, the lead story covers Scott

Williamson’s (perhaps fast-packing’s premier poster child) first

continuous yo-yo of the Pacific Crest Trail, covering 5,120 miles

in 197 days while carrying a 20-pound pack. A second feature

Given this kind of presence, I have to conclude that

either fast-packing is indeed super popular among outdoor

enthusiasts or it’s a case of an emergent pattern, sort

of like how bees choose a new site for their hive. A few

worker bees scout out the sites then report their findings

by dancing for the swarm. The more enthusiastic the dance,

the better the site. Other bees then check out the site

and come back and add their emphasis to the original

scout’s report.

“It’s a rare bee, except for the scouts,” writes Kelly,

“who has inspected more than one site. The bees see a

message, ‘Go there, it’s a nice place.’ They go and return

to dance/say, ‘Yeah, it’s really nice.’… As per the law of

increasing returns, them that has get more votes, the havenots

get less. … The biggest crowd of dancing bees wins.”

Perhaps this is how all the marketing for fast-packing

36|IO May|June 2005

Editorial Index

66°North 22

About.com 38

Acordis Acrylic Fibers 27

Action Sales 10

Active Endeavors 8

Adventure 16 10

Adventure Travel Trade Assn. 29, 32

Alta Group 10

American Fibers & Yarns 14, 16

American Mfg. Trade Action Coalition 26

Atomic 10

Australian Wool Innovation 26, 27

Australian Wool Services 26

Backpacker 36

BackpackingLight.com 36

Banana Republic 16

BIGresearch 34

Bob Smith’s Wilderness Shop 8

Buffalo Park Outfi tters 8

Campbell’s Soup 19

Cannondale 10

Christian Science Monitor 36

Ciba 27

Coca-Cola 19

Columbia Sportswear 8, 24

CoolMax 16, 20, 23

Cordura 20

Coville 12, 14, 16

CrossSphere 29

David Rigby Associates 20, 24

dri-release 26

DuPont 20

Energy Information Admin. 6

ESP 20

eVENT 22

Fortune 6

Gallup 20

Gap 16

Garmont 10

GoLite 36, 38

Gore-Tex 20, 22,24

Harris Interactive 34

Helly Hansen 24

The Hinckley Co. 27

IBM 19, 20, 22, 23, 24


Indigo Equipment 10

Innova 14, 16

Intel 19, 20, 23

International Demographics 34

Intl. Wool Textile Organization 27


IRI Information Resources 22

Jetboil 10

JWT Mature Market Group 34

K2 8, 10

Kavu 16

Koch Industries 20

KoSa 20

Landor Associates 23, 24

Lida Stretch Fabrics 27

Lycra 12, 23

Malden Mills 14, 27

Marmot 8

The Media Audit 34

Merrill Lynch 6

Milliken & Co. 27

Monsanto 19

Mountain Hardwear 8, 14

Mountain Miser 10

New River Industries 27

Nikwax 10

The North Face 8, 20

NutraSweet 19

Olympic Mountaineering 10

Optimer 26

Outdoor Industry Association 7, 28, 38

Outlast Technologies 27

Patagonia 24

Pepperidge Farm 24

Pepsi 19

Petzl 10

Piragis Northwoods 28, 30

Polarguard 20

Polartec 20

PrimaLoft 27

PRIMO Innovations 27

REI 10

Research International 24

Retail Forward 7

Rockfi sh Gap Outfi tters 8

Royal Robbins 14

Schoeller Textil 14, 27

Sea to Summit 10

Snow Country 8

Spooney Wearever 26

Supplex 20

Tactel 20

Tencel 20

Thermolite 20

ThirdAge 34

TrailHeads 10

Travel Guard International 30

Travel Industry Assn. 7, 29, 31

Vaude 23

Velocity Sales 10

Vibram 20

VF Corp. 8

Watermark 8

Wellman 27

Wenonah Canoe 10

Wild River Outfi tters Touring 29, 30

wildbleu sleepwear 26

Woolmark 20, 26

World Global Style Network 26

Yakima 8

YKK 20


Adventure 16 7

ASF Group 31

Cam Commerce Solutions 22

Clear the Air 21

Conservation Alliance 33

Cyclops 3

dri-release 9

Durapeg 32


Kelty 23

Medicines Global 35


Back Cover

Sevylor 39

Sure Foot 2

Synchronics (CounterPoint) 29

Tallysoft 30

Wingnut 25

Wynit 11

Wynit/Magellan 13

Wynit/Garmin 15

Yaktrax 5


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was born. A few people were doing it and talking about it —

doing the dance, so to speak. “That fast-packing looks cool.”

Companies and journalists saw the enthusiasm in the “dance,”

and joined in, dancing/talking excitedly about it. “Yeah, it’s

really cool.” Pretty soon, “As per the law of increasing returns,

them that has get more votes, the have-nots get less.”

OK, so people are talking about it and companies are

making gear for it, but are outdoor participants and enthusiasts

actually going fast-packing? Assuming they’d be included in

backpacking and hiking numbers, Outdoor Industry Association

participation figures indicate they’re not making a significant

impact on overall participation figures.

In both participant and enthusiast groups, backpacking is

down — way down — more than 15 percent from 2001 to

2003 in participant numbers, and more than 33 percent with

enthusiasts to reach that segment’s lowest numbers in six

years. Hiking shows a similar trend, with participant numbers

down more than 7 percent from 2001 to 2003, and enthusiasts

off by nearly 16 percent.

What if fast-packers consider themselves trail runners? No

joy there either. Enthusiast numbers declined over 16 percent

for the same period, and participant levels were down more

than 8 percent. How about Away from the Car Camping? Nope.

Down more than 8 percent in participant levels and a whopping

45 percent with enthusiasts.

In fact, the only enthusiast activity that showed a gain from

2001 to 2003 was road biking.

So, again, I have to conclude that the fast-packing

phenomenon is emergent, a product of the hive mind. In the

immortal words of Strother Martin in Cool Hand Luke, “What we

have here is a failure to communicate!”

For at least the last six years, the outdoor population has

consistently shown itself to prefer to do its outdoor recreating in

short doses as a means to get away from the stresses of everyday

life. Indeed, part of the OIA top line sales report for August 2004

to January 2005 calls attention to the shift in why Americans hike

and camp. Their motivation is less about conquering than it is about

finding peace and having fun. And they’re willing to pay extra for that.

The average selling price is up 16 percent on every kind of gear,

which could mean that they’re buying more expensive gear or that they

are buying the higher-priced stuff on sale to get a better deal. Either

way, such purchasing patterns scream quality, not quantity. These

folks are after the depth of the experience, not the breadth of it.

And we promote fast-packing as “The Answer?” “In our hectic

society,” reads the copy in the GoLite ad, “most of us don’t have

the leisure time we wish we had. But here’s a way you can see

more in a day than you used to in a weekend, more in a weekend

than you used to in a week, and more in week than you used

to in a month.” Isn’t this just a new spin on the old Euro tour

philosophy of “if it’s Tuesday, it must be Berlin”?

This is not in the least to say that there’s no merit to fastpacking.

From a sales perspective, it certainly gives a strong

reason for ultralight gear, which is GoLite’s specialty.

My problem with this model is that it equates quality with

quantity. The same ad shows Coup with 21 pounds of gear and food

for a three-day backpacking trip but then suggests that “by doing the

same trip as a 15 hour fast pack, Coup can leave 13 pounds of gear

and food at home carrying only 8 pounds on his back. Woo-Hoo!”

These types of ads and 41-mile “done in a (never-ending) day”

hiking articles send the message that not only can you go further in a

day if you carry less, but that you should. Is that really the best way to

enjoy the wild? My goal when I want relaxation in the mountains is not

to “see more in a day than [I] used to in a weekend,” but to see (a la

William Blake) “a world in a grain of sand and a heaven in a wildflower,”

to “hold infinity in the palm of [my] hand and eternity in an hour.”

Given that, which sounds better, a three-day ramble in the

forest with a light, 20-pound pack or a single, hard, all-day push for

15 hours?

To be fair, such 15-hour days can be fun, and they have

merit. They offer challenges and give customers options.

And just because the backpacking and hiking numbers are

down doesn’t at all mean we shouldn’t try and rebuild them.

The walking activities are, after all, the real core of outdoor,

and perhaps another generation will discover the wonders

of backpacking, thanks to all the cool lightweight gear now

available. But marketing is not educating, and by equating

“light” with “fast,” by stressing the quantity of travel versus

the quality of the experience, I believe we are cutting our own

throats for the future growth of our industry.

How about “light and slow” as an angle? Enlighten hikers to the

joys of cutting their pack weight not so they can hammer harder, but

so they can simply be more comfortable, have more fun and, perhaps,

comfortably carry a bit of luxury like a loaf of bread or a jug of wine all

in a lightweight package. How’s that for quality of experience?

Many of the tenets espoused by the Ultralight Wingers, er,

Ultralight Weighters, are extremely valid, if for no other reason than

they are being articulated in new forms and to new users. The

systems and multifunction approach to gear and the “be a better

outdoorsman/woman” approach to outdoor recreating that Ryan

Jordan champions on his website and in a recent GoLite catalog are

great concepts for all hikers, not just those shaving grams for the

light and fast, done-in-a-day fast-pack.

I came across a truism on the Internet the other day, while I

was browsing the marketing section of About.com. “Customers

don’t buy products or services. They buy good feelings and

solutions to problems.” The first step is to figure out what

good feelings they’re after and what problems they want

solved. In that light, given what our market seems to want,

does fast-packing provide good feelings, and is it a solution to

a problem? Or is it an answer without a question? IO


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The North Face

Where you sleep is your business. How you sleep is ours.

Visit us at the Outdoor

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Fax 704-642-2177



Look for the

tag of assurance

Photography by Jimmy Chin

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