/ Expensive gear; Marketing, R&D or just taking the piss?

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Max factor - on 24 Oct 2013

Oh look, uniqlo down jackets at 5X the price. I know some people buy into the line that the differnce is all R&D and superior materials, but how different can nylon and goose down be?

For me, this is taking liberties, not least in the ridiculous name.

http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/mountain-hardwear-womens-ghost-whisperer-down-jacket-2C110280?channel...
yesbutnobutyesbut - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor: 5 x the price of what? The jacket you've linked to is 230. Can you get a decent down jacket for 46?
Carolyn - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to yesbutnobutyesbut:

I suspect he's referring to this, or possibly there's an even cheaper one in the uniqlo range
http://www.uniqlo.com/uk/store/goods/078826
nniff - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:

I bought a nice little down jacket in Costco last winter - it cost me 36 I think, and i wouldn't be able to tell it apart from the RAB or Patagonia things that it very closely resembles without the label. If it's really baltic I wear it inside my oversize synthetic belay jacket - v. toasty!
iksander on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor: We should be grateful we have the choice between overpaying or not depending on your priorities
Max factor - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to yesbutnobutyesbut:

it is those, yes. Every winter they run an advertising campaign. They are pretty decent, and cheap though 4X would be more accurate.
ByEek - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor: Taking the p1ss perhaps, but good marketing and pricing is about selling stuff at a price people are prepared to pay. There is no point in pricing this jacket at 50 if people will pay 230. At 50 you would have to sell 4 jackets and you still wouldn't have made as much profit as selling just one at 230. That said, you do have to invest in brand and "technology" to justify to people that 230 is worth it.

Selling premium products is a funny business, but Apple aren't where they are because they have the best value product.
Max factor - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to iksander:

I know, I'm just being curmudgeonly. I've have had this chat with other climbers and some of them ferverntly believe you getting a proportionately better product for your extra cash. True up to a point but I am inherently sceptical when the guy in the shop is evangelising about the latest 'branded' fabric, exlusive to so and so.
andrewmcleod - on 24 Oct 2013
A down jacket is still a 'down' jacket if it only has 20g of down in it. Presumably won't keep you very warm though...
andic - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:

Actually I drooled over those when they first came out last year, my cotswold catalogue got all soggy and sticky and they got excellent reviews online too. I tried one on in Brum and it was really light and thicker than most of the light downs you see (rab, patagonia etc). I did not get one though, too expensive and a bit meh.

They were down to 120 post christmas

I got something almost identical in China (Kailas) in feb for quite a bit less.

Yeah they are taking the piss but someone is buying them....
Nick Barnard - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:

I've looked at the uniqlo down jackets a few times and they do seem quite nice, it'd be good to hear from someone with experience of both them and one(s) from a 'proper' outdoor brand.

Another point I worry about is the down ethics thing. I had a look on Uniqlo's website and I couldn't see anything about what they do regarding the welfare of the animals. I've dropped them a quick email and will let you know if I get a response. Most of the outdoor manufacturers have put out statements about the down they use. Here's MHW's

http://demandware.edgesuite.net/aacw_prd/on/demandware.static/Sites-MountainHardwear_US-Site/Sites-M...
-
Nick
ice.solo - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:

youre still getting ripped off - uniqlo down jackets are half that price in japan.

if slick marketing doesnt get you, import duties will.
muppetfilter - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to ice.solo: Rather apt you use the words "Ripped Off" when you consider how the down is harvested by lots of manufacturers from live birds....

http://www.peta.org/features/down-investigation.aspx
galpinos - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:

> ....... but how different can nylon and goose down be?

Nylon (aka the shell fabric) - They vary in price significantly, whether you believe it makes a difference is up to you. The price will also depend on the buying power of the brand, hence smaller companies often have fewer colour options as they can't afford to buy the fabric due to large minimum order quantities

Down - There's a massive difference. Where's the down from? What ethical guarantee do you have, are they signed up to the Down Codex? Also, are you getting just down or are there feathers in there, what fill power/ratio is it?

Does Uniqlo put any money back into the sport by sponsoring athletes/giving out cheap/free gear for expeditions etc?

Whether the above is worth the money or makes a difference to YOU, only you can decide.
R_Blackburn on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to galpinos:
> (In reply to Max factor)

> Does Uniqlo put any money back into the sport by sponsoring athletes/giving out cheap/free gear for expeditions etc?

I'm not sure this excuses expensive goods. Companies spend on sponsorship because it generates more money than it costs. So if anything, the fact that the company sponsors should lead to lower priced goods in the long run, because more people will be buying said goods.
Nath - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:
Just noticed in the latest catalogue to fall through the door a nice set of Hardshell with no change from 1000 from 3 different manufacturers.

Crazy prices - how much dryer will they keep you?

Nath B
galpinos - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to R_Blackburn:
> I'm not sure this excuses expensive goods. Companies spend on sponsorship because it generates more money than it costs. So if anything, the fact that the company sponsors should lead to lower priced goods in the long run, because more people will be buying said goods.

I never said it did, it was more one of things to consider whether or not to purchase a garment for a climbing company for what the OP perceives as a premiuim. Sponsership is just marketing afterall, but Mountain Equipment's support for MR Teams around the country makes a difference to me when purchasing stuff.
nufkin - on 24 Oct 2013
In reply to Nath:

> how much dryer will they keep you?

Probably no more dry, but they might fit better, last longer and have more features. Whether that's of importance depends on the individual

Same with cars, for instance. No one really needs to spend half a million on fancy speed machines, but plenty of people seem to - because they can and because they think it's worth it, for their own particular circumstances
ice.solo - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to galpinos:
> (In reply to Max factor)
>
> Does Uniqlo put any money back into the sport by sponsoring athletes/giving out cheap/free gear for expeditions etc?
>
> Whether the above is worth the money or makes a difference to YOU, only you can decide.

uniqlo isnt a sports brand so as far as i know little goes back into climbing.
it is however a north asian street brand, that aside from paying the likes of orlando bloom to model for them, sent containers full of warm clothes to the displaced people from the 2011 tsunami and regularly runs social efforts in japan and hong kong for kids and the disadvantaged.

they also have a decade long commitment to exposing emerging artists and designers on their t shirts.

its a bit ridiculous comparing them to some niche market outdoor brand. when they are a far bigger commercial entity than probably every outdoor brand put together, why would they be focussed on an obscure niche? instead of warming the asses of a few thousand climbers, theyve put affordable warm clothing into the hands of those who cant always get gucci big grand stuff. true, they use the methods of weather proofing that outdoor stuff does, but theyve reoriented it to urbanites and old people who couldnt give a shit about you and me standing in the snow.
Siward on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to nufkin: Last longer? I doubt it frankly. You are not paying through the nose for durability.
ads.ukclimbing.com
Avaunt - on 25 Oct 2013
Quote - A down jacket is still a 'down' jacket if it only has 20g of down in it. Presumably won't keep you very warm though.

Exactly, especially when the N wind & rain pays its first winter visit to the nylon down Karrimor or N Face.
.
In reply to Avaunt:

> Exactly, especially when the N wind & rain pays its first winter visit to the nylon down Karrimor or N Face.

My North Face down jacket is very nearly 17 years old and still keeps "N wind & [light] rain" at bay fine.

galpinos - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to ice.solo:

I wasn't comparing them exactly, I was just trying to point out that there are lots of things you can consider when buying something, not just the price. I would prefer my money to go to ME or Patagonia (for example) than Uniglo when buying "outdoor wear". I dop buy casual clothing in Uniqlo though.

(I was unaware of the good things Uniqlo had done, I had them down as a SE Asian Gap but they seem somewhat more ethical!)
Avaunt - on 25 Oct 2013
To be honest I dont think there is any point at all in buying any down jacket or one designed for warmth if they are not windproof & as water resistant as possible, especially down jackets.
.
BnB - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor: No, it's not taking the piss. It's pricing a garment as high as they can and in line with the company's desired image in order to meet budegetary and shareholder objectives. Sometimes asking a ridiculous price works to spread a halo over the wider range. Some customers enjoy the exclusivity a silly price confers. Compare an Aston Martin with a Jaguar at half the price for a great illustration of this marketing phenomenon.

In the case of the Ghost Whisperer, it is simply lighter and better put together than the Rab Microlight and other competitors and the premium they charge emphasises the point wihout needing an objective justification.

The GW is a beautiful thing to try on, but, for you, not worth the premium. You may not like the price but there's no need to get excited about it. Buy the Uniqlo. Don't kid yourself they are identical but you can enjoy getting better value.
ice.solo - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to galpinos:
> (In reply to ice.solo)
>

>
> (I was unaware of the good things Uniqlo had done, I had them down as a SE Asian Gap but they seem somewhat more ethical!)

youre right in that theyre gap-ish, in that they are still a mass commercial entity based on cheap labour and currency disparity. in many ways, the outdoor thing is cashing in on the NE asian outdoor style trend (huge in japan, uniqlos home).

tho aimed at bbq-level outdoor stuff, personally id be happy with it if i only did a few weekends a winter. i wouldnt wear it to everest (well not beyond BBC at least), but the quality isnt too bad and has improved over the last few winters with ykk zips etc.
not sure what you get in the shops in the UK (other than that its double the japanese price), but the range would outfit a weekend warrior from baselayer to belay jacket.
Nick Barnard - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:

Right folks, I had a reply from Uniqlo about their down sourcing:

********************************************
Dear Nick Barnard,

Thank you for your email.



We appreciate your feedback and can assure you that the down used for our down products are not live-plucked. Rather it is taken from ducks after they are slaughtered for meat production. We will continue to ensure that the down for our products is sourced in a manner that does not cause any pain to the animals.



If you have any further queries please do not hesitate to contact us.



Best regards,

Shop Online @ UNIQLO Team
********************************************

Hope this helps with people's decision making.

-
Nick
BnB - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Nick Barnard:
> (In reply to Max factor)
>
> Right folks, I had a reply from Uniqlo about their down sourcing:
>
> ********************************************
> Dear Nick Barnard,
>
> Thank you for your email.
>
>
>
> We appreciate your feedback and can assure you that the down used for our down products are not live-plucked. Rather it is taken from ducks after they are slaughtered for meat production. We will continue to ensure that the down for our products is sourced in a manner that does not cause any pain to the animals.
>


That's any vegetarians "Oot" then.

andrewmcleod - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to BnB:

Which is a problem (for me), since the only really ethical down is Eiderdown, which is so hilariously expensive it is completely impractical...
BnB - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to andrewmcleod: I actually prefer Primaloft anyway for its easycare properties. I was a veggie for ten years but not a very principled one!
captain paranoia - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to yesbutnobutyesbut:

> 5 x the price of what? The jacket you've linked to is 230. Can you get a decent down jacket for 46?

As if by magic, the shopkeeper appeared:

http://www.cotswoldoutdoor.com/mountain-hardwear-mens-ghost-whisperer-down-jacket-1b110491?id_colour...

Or 45:

http://www.decathlon.co.uk/warm-ultralight-down-ski-jkt-id_8283694.html
JohnnyW - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:

I was going to start a similar thread, but yours'll do! ;)

I was in Tisos at the weekend, and saw this -

http://www.tiso.com/shop/clothing/mens/mens-norwand-eiger-jacket/

550 for a bit of Goretex!!!!

I don't care about R&D, this is utterly ridiculous.

It simply is not X times better than my current bought-in-the-bargain-bucket MH XCR jacket. It can't be. It would need to be 100% breathable, 100% waterproof, and carry me up the mountain on a cloud for that price.

Who the flying fcuk can afford/justify this ?
JohnnyW - on 25 Oct 2013
BnB - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to JohnnyW: Arcteryx customers
ByEek - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to JohnnyW:

> 550 for a bit of Goretex!!!!
>
> I don't care about R&D, this is utterly ridiculous.

But if you are manufacturing jackets and you know some people will pay 500+ for a coat, what would you prefer to do? Sell one coat at 500 or 10 at 50? Which do you think involves the most amount of work, effort and profit?

Because we are passionate about our hobby, we assume that those selling to people like us also do it for the love. This may be partially true, but it is also a business. Selling high value low turnover products is much easier for small companies who often can not stump up the cash to manufacture low cost high turnover products.
captain paranoia - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to JohnnyW:

Oh, the Theta is part of Arc'teryx's budget range. This is their expensive stuff:

http://veilance.arcteryx.com/Home.aspx?language=EN

If you need to ask the price, you can't afford it...
Bjartur i Sumarhus on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to captain paranoia: Uniqlo - one of my favourite brands. Their heat tech base layers are excellent and cost around 11 each. Compared to other base layers I could mention they are as warm and easier to maintain and about 5X cheaper. Their merino wool tops are also extremely good value.

Re expensive gear. I was discussing this with a friend the other day. The inflation is really apparent in outdoor clothing (just like in gas and electricity and houses). Neither of us now would buy anything that wasn't in a sale.

And finally regarding the "halo effect" of being exclusive.A fashion clothes store near my office ( Italian sounding labels 300 jeans type place) has started stocking the full Canada Goose jacket range! Why? because they cost a friggin fortune and their clientele just can't stop spending I guess.
Jack_Lewin - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:

Working in retail you quickly learn that for some people a waterproof jacket should cost 100, some people 20, some people 500 is what it costs. It's all relative, plus once you learn about the amount of r and d goes into an alpha sv, how all it's features work, how long it takes to manufacture one jacket compared to other examples of similar jackets for other brands and the fact that they don't sell lots of hoodies and t-shirts to recoup said r and d costs then 500 suddenly isn't hard to justify. Yes it's a lot but then a lot of work goes into the jacket, bigger more "main stream" brands pro shells wouldn't be far below the cost of an alpha Sv if they were "smaller" companies.
Ramblin dave - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:
To be honest, ripping off climbers for super-expensive gear seems like a fairly inefficient way to get rich - there's not many of us relative to the population as a whole, many of us couldn't afford a 500 waterproof, many of use wouldn't spend 500 on a waterproof even if we could. The real money is in selling shite waterproofs to dog walkers for inflated prices which they're willing to pay because your brand has "proper mountain gear" cachet.

As far as expensive stuff goes, I'm generally willing to believe that it is marginally better and they have put loads of effort into R&D and materials and all that malarky, but it's diminishing returns and for most of us there are better ways to spend the extra cash. If on the other hand the cost of a 500 jacket just means one fewer bottles of vintage champers on your private jet to Rjukan this weekend then you might as well go with it.
nufkin - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to JohnnyW:

> It simply is not X times better than my current bought-in-the-bargain-bucket MH XCR jacket. It can't be.

They probably don't claim that it is. But also, how do you define 'better'? Are the Aston Martins someone mentioned earlier 'better' than a Fiesta? Money has just gone into different aspects of them and this is reflected in the cost to the punter.


> this is utterly ridiculous

It's always quite enlightening talking to people who indulge in other sports/pass-times. They seem to think that the clothes we think are massively expensive are quite reasonable compared to what they spend on things - kayakers, sailers, golfers etc etc
GrahamD - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to nufkin:

Golfers ?
JohnnyW - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor:

I think I'll just get back on the mountain and count how many of these 'actually quite reasonably priced' I pass........
tommypops - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Max factor: You need to take into consideration what you'll be using the jacket for too. A cheapo waterproof jacket is perfectly fine as a shell on, for example, some high alpine route where the only water you'll be coming across is in the form of ice or snow. So long as it breaths enough to allow your sweat to evaporate you'll be fine.
nufkin - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to GrahamD:

> Golfers ?

Well, I was meaning their equipment generally rather than clothing more specifically, but probably you can spend loads on 'proper' golf-wear.
Spending hundreds (thousands?) on clubs and balls I find baffling, but I'm happy to shell out on complicated, carefully engineered and tested metalwork to shove in a crack. Also happy to hypocritically gripe about the cost.
BnB - on 25 Oct 2013
In reply to Ramblin dave:
> (In reply to Max factor)
> To be honest, ripping off climbers for super-expensive gear seems like a fairly inefficient way to get rich - there's not many of us relative to the population as a whole, many of us couldn't afford a 500 waterproof, many of use wouldn't spend 500 on a waterproof even if we could. The real money is in selling shite waterproofs to dog walkers for inflated prices which they're willing to pay because your brand has "proper mountain gear" cachet.
>

No one is ripping you or anyone else off. The garment makers are simply arranging themselves into price segments so that you and everyone else has a choice. As was pointed out in the OP. You can buy a perfectly serviceable down jacket for peanuts, and a rather lighter, better cut one for a whole macademia nut tree.

And, by the way, the real money is in establishing a reputation for the highest quality of gear and then sprinkling that stardust on your mid-range offerings.

Tell me, would you like shares in?

The North Face? Or Trespass? I thought so.

Who will you put your money on still being in business in 10 years? Mine is on Arcteryx. Unless some idiot buys them and takes them down market. Have you been skiing in the smarter resorts lately? Wall to wall Arcteryx for the bankers. And there's an awful lot of them.

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