PADDLINGBUSINESSstream: Why Better Really Matters For Paddlesports Retailers And Manufacturers | Adventure Kayak Magazine | Rapid Media
Why better matters Scott MacGregor

If we're lucky, they will keep buying and we will get to do this year after year

What is BRANDstream

Quietly, over the last 20 years, innovation and advancement in paddlesports has become dramatically more efficient and effective.

There are several factors at work, including computer-aided designs allowing smaller teams to work faster through digital modeling rather than prototype testing. The World Wide Web showcases bright ideas we would never see unless we traveled to other regions. And today there’s an expectation that better is possible, in both the minds of designers and consumers. And so we strive for better because better is better, right? Better offers us a competitive advantage, an opportunity to grow market share and increase revenues in what is still very much a niche industry.

If we didn’t better things, we’d be peeling open Grummans on river rocks and glassing our own whitewater and ocean kayaks in unventilated garages. While innovation has improved almost all aspects of paddling, better is not what we are selling.

Charles Revson, the pioneering cosmetics industry executive and creator of Revlon, knew he wasn’t selling lipsticks. He was selling dreams. He was also famous for saying, “Perfume is made in the factory. Hope is sold in the store.”

When I travel, people ask what I do for a living. It’s polite stranger conversation on airplanes. We all do it. I say I’m the publisher of paddling magazines and they smile and tell me their stories. I hear tales of summer camp shenanigans, early mornings at lake houses, and treasured family paddling trips.

They never ask me about lighter hull materials, stiffer shafts or three-ply waterproof fabrics. Revson would say our factories are cranking out boats, boards, paddles, PFDs, apparel and accessories, but our specialty paddlesports retailers are selling freedom, adventure and good memories.

The new Paddling Magazine New Product Showcase and Product and Industry Awards at Paddlesports Retailer will recognize innovation and celebrate winners in 11 categories, plus a Best in Show Award, voted on by retail buyers, media and consumers. It is the one night a year we are together as an industry to drink beer and pat each other on the back. And we should.

However, the real winners of paddlesport innovation won’t be there with us. Instead, they’ll be posting trip photos on Instagram and sharing stores around campfires and with office colleagues on Monday mornings.

If we’re lucky, these people will keep buying and using our stuff. If they do we’ll get to do this all over again next year, and the year after.


Scott MacGregor is the founder and publisher of Rapid Media.

This article orginally appeared in the 2018 issue of Paddling Business. Read the full issue here.

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