Your new consumer only eats perfect cake

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. Now, if we think about the future and changing trends in consumers, Baby Boomers were the target consumers in the olden days and a single layer of the cake might have been all it took, especially if that layer was combined with some transactional tactics like BOGO or 25% off.
Nowadays, for a sustainable business, this is not the case.
Times have changed and Millenials / Gen Z are set to be the largest group of consumers. these future consumers are a little different due to the fact that they expect and demand a perfect cake.

I use the cake analogy loosely, but it works when you think of your business as being a cake composed of essential ingredient including logical and emotional components. No longer is your product just the physical thing for someone to purchase it, it has to align with what they feel a complete experience should entail.

Your financial success relies on you selling cakes and having repeat consumers so you need to understand and deliver a complete experience. But, what makes a perfect cake?

1. Complete the taste

5 years ago if some layers of the cake tasted mediocre, that was ok — people would still eat the cake for the good portions, they knew that other bakeries also had imperfections in their cakes. In today’s culture, this is not the case, with many bakeries competing for the same pool of consumers and generations with different cake preferences there’s a necessity to deliver a complete experience — complete the consumer experience means making a perfect cake.

2. Mix the ingredients well

The right ingredients, correct quantities and baked to perfection, this manifests into your product solution, but as we know the consumer is shopping for the full experience and all ingredients need to work perfectly together and compliment each other, i.e. the communications working with the brand values and the expression of them in the design language of the product, all the way through to the desired experience with customer service. This means silos of thought that occur naturally in your company should be avoided at all costs to ensure the ingredients mix right and work to produce the right experience overall.

Another reason for mixing the ingredients well is that we know the consumer journey doesn’t have one starting point, your business has 360 degrees of doors — meaning a consumer will start their journey at any point, and your cake experience should taste great from any point. That might not mean flooding them with all the flavours at once, it can mean ensuring the right flavours are there at the right time — experience design.

3. Celebrate the ingredients

New trends for 2018 indicate that transparency is key and are being demanded. Tell the consumer what is in the cake, even show them the raw ingredients along with how and where they came from. Details about who made the cake and the impact of consuming the cake on the lives of the person that mixed the ingredients. On a basic level, we have seen this movement in food products where consumers are ever more conscious about nutrition, organic and sustainable food sources. This transparency is happening in the apparel world also with sources of manufacturing and workforce implications. Don’t hide your ingredients.

4. Express your deep flavours (values)

The best-tasting cakes are from bakeries you love, bakers you might casually know, with sales associates that treat you in a way you want to be treated — generally sense that company aligns with the way you feel. Wait this has nothing to do with the cake. Wrong. This has everything to do with the cake. If you can make your cake to express these embedded deep flavours (feelings) in the mix, with a transparency that your consumer can see – you are on your way to making a completing the experience and thus a perfect cake.
These “deep flavours” or values get into the realms of what some call touchy-feely and scientifically we know an emotional connection is a lot stronger than a BOGO promotion in terms of loyalty and returning consumers. These feel like they are made in the heart, or sometimes we call them “gut decisions” but really they are made in the brain, in a part of the brain that feels — the limbic system, responsible for decision making. Things that make your company “feel” good are very powerful, often those feels are things that show alignment— supporting Autism, made in America, crafted locally with a sustainable workforce, better for the planet, etc. may be the deep flavours that your up and coming consumers are really fanatic about.

Need some holistic thinking for your business? — check out my website and maybe I can help you out

Business in 2018

The business world has seen some pretty interesting trending in 2017, over the next few weeks I will be writing a piece which makes design sense elements of biz elements. The core elements popping to mind right now revolve around AI and machine learning, Transparency, Activism and a big one of shifting brand relevancy. More to come soon….

Cycling Research & Trends

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.


Macro Trends

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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)

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Local Hits

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.

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Outdoor Retailer 2017

Macro Trends

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.

image :
image : gearpatrol

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.

Product Trends

When did the outdoors become Bottles, Coolers and Speakers!
Of the last two to three years a few large product trends have become mature.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Product Innovations

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

image: Piorama

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

wilderness landscape forest with pine trees and moss on rocks
image: Gadgetflow





Leatherman Tempo

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.icon_watch2

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

Tread_Tempo_Black_Right SideTread_Tempo_SS_Right Side 3-4