If you’re in a successful business you probably think a lot about your future consumers.
The best brands and large companies have something in common — they serve what I call “perfect cake”. This means the consideration and delivery of a whole consumer experience from start to finish. This is in contrast with some businesses who focus on a solitary layer — the product layer for example. Continue reading “User centered design can help make the perfect business cake!”
The Chrome Kadet is pretty cool, its a small over the shoulder messenger bag. I would do a couple of things to make it a bit more bike friendly, which would include a camera mod for a smaller mirrorless camera setup and maybe some new materials to breathe better in the straps and back panel. This would be a great gravel grinder companion, for gear and photos.
The problem with riding up mountains in summer is actually descending mountains. You ride up, you get hot and sweaty, you descend then you instantly get cold and the moisture from the sweat keeps you cold. Shivering on a bike on a fast descent is not a good thing. In the days of old school racing – spectators at the top of the mountain pass would give riders newspaper to put down the front of their jerseys to block the wind for the descent, thus keeping them warmer and safer.
Below is a modern day take design for a versatile jersey with side panels that can transform into a wind vest.
Last week I headed to Interbike Vegas 2017, where cycling industry veterans gathered to show off the latest trends and technology in cycling. The first two days of Interbike was Outdoor Demo, where cycling industry pro’s get to view and ride new bicycles, followed by three days of tradeshow. With three exhibition halls full of gear, Interbike gives you a glimpse of the future.
Smart becomes integrated
The influx of smart technologies finally sees face in the bicycle world, from integrated GPS on e-bikes to speakerphones in helmets. Electronic based technologies start blurring the lines of accessories and find themselves in new products and previously mechanical-only items.
Electricity opens the door for more riders
E-bikes, e-bike and more e-bikes. For those deep in the cycling world the mention of motors on a bike can be controversial and start a passionate discussion, whether in regard racing or bike lane etiquette. Without being political I can say the amount of diversity in e-bikes this year has gone wide. Mountain, road, commuter, commuter drop bar, cruiser, folding and cargo bikes. More consumer options from the lower price points, to $10,000 luxury urban transportation, cater to a wide range of categories with technology platforms driving them from Bosch, Yamaha and Shimano.
Safety is king
In years past, the speedy lines of high end road bikes and the new geometries of mountain bikes led the way. Now, safety is king and accessories that provide safety and visibility are growing – from turn indicators built into helmets to GPS safe traffic routing. The bike light market is moving into the equivalent of the auto industries daytime running lights and hi viz is a staple in apparel lines. Safety is here to stay and technological developments only push things forward.
Product Updates & Innovations
The area of new exhibitors revealed helmet maker Anne London . The new helmet design is made from dense fabric material, which folds like a candy wrapper down to the size of an ipad mini. Pretty cool in itself, then the material is said to have a 6-7 year life and have a much higher impact absorption than regular helmets. The innovation was inspired by personal empathy and while what you see here are development protos, I cannot wait to see if this starts any sparks in the industry.
Ever wrecked your bikes into the top of your garage? if it hasn’t happened to you, you probably know someone who has and the damage to the bikes and the car are not minor. Raacked decided to take this on with some gadget wizardry. An ultrasonic sensor mounted on your roof rack measures proximity and when it senses an obstacle it wirelessly triggers a warning system on the inside your car. Aiming to go to market at approx. $125 a unit, Raacked is looking to bring a kickstarter to life soon.
Speaking of e-bikes, Stromer, a well known brand had a couple of special editions with an impressive list of features. The LTD ST2 (only 555 will be made globally) and the top of the line ST2S. Stromer make the flagship of e bikes and these come at a flagship price $7,999 and $9,999. Packed full of tech, the Swiss have thought out every detail on this rear wheel drive e bike. GPS tracking, remote bike locking, theft motor disablement, electronic diagnostics, 110 mile range, integrated smart lighting, variable brake lighting and get this -regenerative electricity to charge the battery while going down hills (how much charge would you get out of Thompson/ Cornell from skyline?). All this comes in a stylish package built with the quality of a german car.
SKS Launched a line of clever lighting products integrated to stem and rear fender called Monkey Link. As well as being highly visible and stylish, the products include a powerful assisted magnetic snap attachment for easy on and off, and also internal wiring integration (called connect) is provided for e-bikes.(Rear fender lights $29-$35, Front lights from $59 to $99)
Tim from Kool Stop based in Lake Oswego brought a few new products to the show, including E bike specific brake pads and revised compounds on their classic orange /black combination pads.
Being a huge cat fan, Megan from Nutcase Helmets in Portland was really excited to tell us about the great success of the quirky “Space Cats”. This irreverent yet adorable design seems to appeal to a lot of people. Also for 2017/2018 a new color pallet for the Tracer helmet line which has a lot of appeal to various types of riders. On the arty side, Nutcase are currently looking for new entrants in their Artist series, which encourages submissions of designs for helmets.
Joel from Yakima racks based in Lake Oswego, really wanted to talk about a nifty new product to make life a little easier. Anyone with a hitch knows that it can really get in the way when accessing other gear in the car or truck. The BackSwing ($299, available April 2018) allows you to swing out any hitch rack (tray or mast style) – well out of the way even with bikes loaded, extending out and rotating the rack 90 degrees. This means getting gear in the back of the car and carrying bikes has never been quicker, easier and less bruises on your ankles. It’s a slick little mod that can also retrofit a lot of existing hitch mounted racks rated to 250lbs.
Made in The USA
Phil Wood came out with a new rear hub system consisting of 5 pawls and a higher number of engagement points, for better faster power transfer. They also launched this cute mini hub for Bromton wheels plus a 1 1/8 to 1.5″ headset.
A literal sea of blue.
Variants of teal are the 2017 hot colors, with every major manufacturer (especially in apparel sector) the blue train is cool, but this is not the cyan”y” product pop from years back, this is new deep teals and sea blues, combined with neutral and cool gray’s used as body colors and accents. The palette is shifting from the aubergines and burnt oranges of years past.
Wearable is organic
To get the obvious out of the way – packs, gps devices, watches these are all wearable categories. Over time some of the categories have been bombarded by additions which have tried to enhance the value by addressing a further consumer need like illumination, audio, solar cells but all that hype and the embedded circuitry has fallen wayside maybe due to lack of consumer demand. How common is it to see solar panels on a backpack or a jacket? The tech is developed but there is no consumer sense, then there are very low tech additions like what Pacsafe are doing in wearable security, enhancing a category with hardware to address a need. Secure backpacks. This low tech in the form of wearables or sub wearables is niche but could be growing.
Outdoors is transparent
Over half or more of Outdoor Industry is in apparel, fabric and shoes where tech has always driven the high end. As such performance materials were developed in mass to feed consumerism , this was in a vacuum to environmental concerns for many years. Some materials companies had good practices, others not, but there was no clear way of understanding the stream. Coatings, lamination’s made up a lot of this tech and its what fabric suppliers sold on, but of recent years the outdoor industry has been demanding eco solutions as realizations of toxicity and pollution became apparent. Now more than ever there is legitimate concern about the evo cycle and brands demanding proven cradle to grave information with suppliers, as manufacturing transparency has become a thing that companies like to talk about in consumer marketing. No more green washing. This voice for eco resonates with consumers and such the most eco advanced products and transparently operating brands are the premium talking points. Dyes and DWR’s being the most prevalent in consumer language. Eco Advocacy and process transparency from a brand language.
When did the outdoors become Bottles, Coolers and Speakers!
Of the last two to three years a few large product trends have become mature.
- The explosion in waterbottles, all shapes and sizes, colours and coatings. – my guess is in part started from the anti bpa movement of nalgene. The industry shows a +7% increase in volume this year (npd data) and 24% growth last year. Now more than ever manufacturers are talking about next level features such as rugged coatings, double wall vacuums, nozzles and clips, but the market is mature and reached saturation.
- Bluetooth rechargeable speakers, your camp activity is incomplete without one (apparently). the maturity of this technology has allowed small companies to explore multiple form factors and reach price points which are not shocking and more consumables. Bluetooth is commonplace and usb charging is a known. The market is saturated with offerings to make your outdoor experience rock on.
- Along with small electronic speaker things, the advent of solar panels is here. They are being included by most if not all the small electronic manufacturers as a way to charge devices. From a tech cycle, this shows that it has matured enough to become widespread. Total market is up by 43% this year but this number may also include small electronics like the speakers cat above.
- The making of super high end coolers – Yeti started this from game and fishing coolers moving into camp and more general outdoor markets and opened the doors to all the fast followers Otterbox, Pelican to name a few, wanting a share of the lucrative $250 to $500 market. spin off’s and variants are common place all with the look of a Yeti, sometimes even down to similar straps and construction style. As this product gets more mainstream demand look for the retail price to go down.
- Hammocks – yes walk into any outdoor store nowadays and you will see them – hammocks are a big deal, lots of manufacturers, same basic designs. The amount of product has created a new category that appeals to many ages, backpackers, car campers or just yard crashers. The appeal of a hammock is universally associated as a way to enjoy outside.
Three of my favorites from the show, in each case the innovation was authentic to brand, consumer based and had some story or resonated with a relevant outdoor theme.
Zippo launched a line of fire starting products along the ethos of preparedness. Several firestarter products in well designed packages. Contained tinder system using lighter style flint and compressed wool tinder. Storm proof matches with strike panel, and a compact mag stryker. Also note the paracord light holder thrown in there for survival situation:-) Theme : Preparedness website
Piorama – A new bag brand with unique expansion to suit every occasion. The bag goes from very tiny to insanely large (62 litres) with some nicely designed features to help carry and the conversion is simple and quick. Theme : minimalism website
Scrubba – Stealth pack – A product design for the outdoors that does 4 things in clever ways – it’s a backpack, can be used as a compression drybag, converts to a wash pack for cleaning clothes and also transforms to a camp shower! Theme : multifunction outdoor minimalism website
Unveiled at the 2017 Outdoor Retailer Show- The Tread Tempo watch speaks Leatherman’s philosophy of “prepared for the unexpected” by integrating screw drivers, wrenches and picks in the band of the watch. Leatherman launched a non watch version of the tool bracelet a few years back with luke warm reception and consumer feedback indicated the original product needed more of an everyday vibe, to provide something that was immediately useable as an everyday item. What better way to celebrate a statement wrist tool by making a statement watch that is functional and a lifestyle showpiece.
The watch body is forged and machined from stainless steel, then hand brushed to achieve the finish. On the inside, a swiss ronda movement, precise sweeping second hand and date topped off with the hardest sapphire crystal glass which is recessed in the bezel for extra scratch resistance. Water proof to 200m, the dive inspired timing ring on the outside is has a firm quality feel time and can be rotated clockwise to be used. Tempo comes in two colour ways, a brushed stainless steel with dark grey face and luminous accents and brushed black using a pvd coating with black face and luminous cyan accents for a more sport comandbro look. On sale September for $575 at Letherman.com