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Jake_Gano

I don't want to pay for your climbing trip

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(Preface: Nothing stokes my already ample cynicism like surfing internet climbing media, which I've been doing way too much of lately.)

 

It seems like every blog post I've seen for Alaskan trips has ended with the writer thanking the trip sponsors. These are not trips to exotic, expensive, and logistically complex trips.

 

I pay retail for all my climbing gear, and it chaps my ass to see companies charge me way too much for their gear, only to turn around and give it way to other climbers.

 

To be fair, I'm ok with guides and a hand full of top climbers to get free gear. These guys log enough time to wear out get, provide feedback, and develop better products. But if you're just an ok or above-average climber, then you should show a little pride and not ask that others (i.e. me) to subsidize your trip. The companies that make gear tighten down their belts, tell most of these guys to fuck off, and pass the savings back to me.

 

 

 

 

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Point well taken, but you likely overestimate the amount of cost these companies take on by giving free or reduced-cost gear to bloggers, folks just asking, and the general non-elite crowd.

 

I have little visibility into the climbing industry specifically, but have had some into cycling and running. What I've seen leads me to believe that the vast majority of asks for free or discounted gear are turned down. Most folks getting "pro" or "bro" deals are people themselves employed by the industry - and even then, it's usually an impersonal thing (such as a login to promotive.com) which is really a no-loss for the company (as such pricing is usually around cost).

 

These are businesses after all, and I argue this is a case where the invisible hand of the market keeps companies from ratcheting up margins on Joe Consumer to fund Bro Blogger.

 

Armchair psych speculation (no formal training in the area): People who acknowledge or boast about sponsorship on their blogs, etc, at least in part are doing so because they're upholding their end of the bargain if they indeed received a discount. But part of it I believe is the part of "looking pro" and "feeling pro". We see professional athletes thanking sponsors, and acting similarly in some small part makes folks feel that they, too, look a little pro. Which is a big part of the whole thing in the social media world.

 

Edited by jared_j

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But part of it I believe is the part of "looking pro" and "feeling pro". We see professional athletes thanking sponsors, and acting similarly in some small part makes folks feel that they, too, look a little pro. Which is a big part of the whole thing in the social media world.

 

I see people hashtaging gear companies on Facebook/Instagram, and I know ya'll ain't getting paid. Why advertise for someone for free?

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But part of it I believe is the part of "looking pro" and "feeling pro". We see professional athletes thanking sponsors, and acting similarly in some small part makes folks feel that they, too, look a little pro. Which is a big part of the whole thing in the social media world.

 

I see people hashtaging gear companies on Facebook/Instagram, and I know ya'll ain't getting paid. Why advertise for someone for free?

 

To feel like you have something in common with the people actually getting paid or schwagged up (very, very few getting paid I believe). "Feeling pro"; there's loads of other ways to waste your money and time to boost ones' ego, this one don't cost a thing.

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I do beer photography. I hashtag anything related to breweries in my pictures. Why advertise for them? because if they like my 'free' advertising they will use it and direct more viewers to me, ask to use it and do a quid-pro-quo on beer, or ask to buy it and pay me. And as jared suggested, it doesn't cost me a thing or take a moment, and I enjoy the products..

 

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Simple solution Jake- buy used gear or make your own if you are really that hard up and don't want to "subsidize" others' climbs.

 

And quit whining.

 

The gear companies certainly don't care.

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@jake gano

Do you have problems with companies that advertise on radio or tv? Why would you want to subsidize media corporation but have issues with subsidizing small time climbers?

 

Every corporation that sells products needs to market their products. most of the time it is called advertising.

But some companies have found that alternatives to media adverts work better for their niche groups. Take RedBull for example. They realized that their cute little "will give you wings" adverts did not really pan out for them so they went to genius method to get people to see their brand/logo. Make killer clips of extreme athletes doing awesomem things and have them wear a RedBull logo helmet. I can't think of how many times I have seen their logo and someone who is younger may even buy that hideous drink. Exposure to brands enough and people will buy it.

 

Free or cheap gear for climbers with the expectation of a small thank you and therefore advert is a very inexpensive and effective for cost method for brand exposure.

I Would rather support a company doing this kind of marketing than some huge conglomerate with high paid executives to come up with a lame 30 second commercial for some crappy thing made in china.

So go ahead and refuse to consume products from these climbing industries and still buy garbage from elsewhere. To do is inconsistent in values.

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Actually, I avoid hiring, for example, the plumbing companies that spend a ton on advertising, on the theory that either their rates subsidize it or they are spending less on training, employee benefits... I don't care what. I look for word of mouth referrals. But that's totally irrelevant.

 

I suspect wannabes dressed in all the latest North Face hard core subsidize your gear than you are subsidizing amateur sponsored climbers. Me, I'm just jealous.

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Actually, I avoid hiring, for example, the plumbing companies that spend a ton on advertising, on the theory that either their rates subsidize it or they are spending less on training, employee benefits... I don't care what. I look for word of mouth referrals. But that's totally irrelevant.

Your ethical choice in services is commendable. But the reality is that even your choice of plumbers has done some kind of advertising. Once again, so a small company, like cilo gear for example, uses giving gear at cost to sponsor a climber with the expectation of some positive comment in the future is a cost effective advertisement program. If it is OK for your plumber, why not small gear company?

 

I suspect wannabes dressed in all the latest North Face hard core subsidize your gear than you are subsidizing amateur sponsored climbers. Me, I'm just jealous.

 

Not sure what you are getting at. Maybe I am just too old to understand. FWIW, I don't get any subsidized gear.

 

and what is so wrong with "subsidizing"? smells a lot like extreme right wing talk.

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I don't have a problem with people getting hooked up with gear its the folks trying to crowdsource for run of the mill trips and expeditions that I think is ridiculous.

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Awesome thread!

If it were not for my personal integrity, I'm pretty sure I would be festooned with brand labels by now.

 

politial-sponsors.jpg

 

However, I must maintain my brand of disheveled disorganization.

 

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its the folks trying to crowdsource for run of the mill trips and expeditions that I think is ridiculous.

 

C'mon Pete, I only asked for gas money to the Bugs last summer. And, I'll have you know, I sent the West Ridge of Pigeon exactly as planned! This is the new face of climbing!

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@jake gano

Take RedBull for example. They realized that their cute little "will give you wings" adverts did not really pan out for them so they went to genius method to get people to see their brand/logo. Make killer clips of extreme athletes doing awesomem things and have them wear a RedBull logo helmet. .

 

Redbull sponsors accomplished climbers like Will Gadd.

 

Now that I've cooled down a bit, let me try to articulate what I was trying to say in the original post in a way that is less incisive.

 

I think that the act of self promotion, building a "brand of me," through social media is tacky and lacks humility, especially if it's not backed up by real accomplishment. Gear companies condone this self promotion by giving gear deals to climbers, and if I buy their products then I am indirectly condoning this as well.

 

OTOH there are plenty of climbers who crank on their own dime, without self promotion, and these guys are admirable. (I doubt Fred Beckey ever had to create a cult-of-personality on social media).

 

I'm not being stingy when I say that I wish companies wouldn't be so loose with the money I spend on their products; I just don't like the idea of spending my on tacky self-promotion.

 

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self promotion through social media is tacky and lacks humility, Gear companies condone this self promotion by giving gear deals to climbers, and if I buy their products then I am indirectly condoning this as well.

 

ding ding...the heart of the matter. Your issue is more with the BS on social media.

 

 

I just don't like the idea of my spending on tacky self-promotion.

 

well I think you can set your concerns aside by realizing that the sponsorships that companies give do not cause an increase in the price of products. In a true free market system, the price of the products is determined solely by what the market will pay for it, regardless of cost of production.

So buying the gear will not encourage more untasteful social media BS.

 

Maybe the best solution is to not look at facebook and stick with cascadeclimbers. :)

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I'm hoping yall will help fund my tour of Scottish distilleries! Every penny helps to get me over there, and in return I promise to enjoy every drop.

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Whether intentional or not, in the modern era it's hard not to take a photo of yourself or a climbing partner without exposing a brand label of a product you/they are wearing.

 

Most manufactures place the brand name of the product you either choose to buy or were given in places that are easy to see. Product label placement shows up all the time in all kinds of professions, movies, and TV shows.

 

  • Drive by a construction site and you'll know what kind of equipment the company owner likes.
  • Manufactures pay to place brand name products in movies.
  • A couple weeks ago while watching a football game the name Microsoft was clearly visible on all the laptops that made it into the broadcast
  • ...
     

 

Had social media been around years ago, Fred might have unintentionally promoted a large chain restaurant due to their easy to pilfer napkins...

 

 

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Long, long standing issue with the climbing industry: The core of the market gets their gear below wholesale via pro deals. Then the industry claims there's no money to be made selling $700 jackets and $1000 skis. Well duh, you're giving your shit away at cost to half your potential customer base.

 

So yeah, the poor schlubs paying full retail (especially in the U.S., which enjoys extra special pricing) are subsidizing a very large group buying at 70ish% off.

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Long, long standing issue with the climbing industry: The core of the market gets their gear below wholesale via pro deals. ..... at 70ish% off.

 

If Pro Deals were that good, they aren't any more. 30-50% off is more typical, especially on hard goods. Cost, or cost plus a little bit are more the norm. When you add in shipping, it often isn't a lot better deal than shopping around on the web or heading up to MEC.

 

But it is usually still a better deal, or so I've heard ;)

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Pro deals give you a percentage off, but they're just a tool manufactures use to help make money. They don't hurt the bottom line.

 

Recently a manufacturer rep approached someone who helps decide what products will be offered for sale in a limited amount of retail space in a climbing gym. The rep wants product to be viewed by likely customers, but knows retail space is limited. As an incentive pro deals will be offered to employees of the gym. Basically the rep wants to pay a small rental fee for space to promote product.

 

If you volunteer for ski patrol at a ski area you have to be a member of the NSP and you have to pay dues. As a perc you get pro deals from some equipment manufacturers, but manufacturers don't give pro deals on all the products they sell. Basically manufactures reduce but don't eliminate profits from some items to a limited group of people.

 

The chances manufactures are loosing money on pro deals and passing losses on to Joe or Jane schmuck with no pro deals are pretty low.

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If you cannibalize your core customer base by selling them (and their friends) gear at zero or negative profit it hurts the bottom line. It's not sour grapes, it's math.

 

Here's what I see as the economic brokenness in this industry:

 

1. A cam costs $80. Skis $800 to $1000. Bindings are $600. A good Goretex shell (pants and jacket), $1000. So to buy all new gear to go back country skiing is what? $4000+?

2. Industry: There is no money in this business.

3. Me, who just paid $500 for a transceiver: Say WHAT?

4. Industry: There is no money in this business, so we can't pay our people well.

5. Industry: We can't pay our people well, but we can give them a huge break on our stuff.

6. Employees: Thanks. I'm eating Top Ramen out of my car, but I have shiny cams, in doubles.

 

Result:

1. People who work in or around the industry get paid crap, but have really nice gear. Seriously, I've noticed a massive difference in willingness to leave gear behind between my Pro Form enabled partners and those who are not.

2. The same folks are end up as a sort of indentured servant; they can afford to pursue their hobby and squeak by on Costco food samples and usually keep their car running. But really moving up economically? Probably not.

3. The companies are forced to make their profit from weekend warriors instead of the core users of their gear. Those same core users are most likely to consume/wear out equipment and need to replace it more frequently.

 

Car companies offer discounts to employees, yes. But gear companies give these discounts to employees and people who use the gear professionally. That's like GM selling cars at cost to anyone who uses them to drive to work.

 

Now add on top of this the somewhat cyclical price disparity between Europe and the U.S. My last pair of ice climbing boots came from France. Cost me $125 shipped. Price on the shelf at Marmot: $400. My last ski setup came from France. Cost with mounting and shipping: $1200. Best price Marmot could offer: $1800 plus sales tax. Best price offered by Neptune: $2300 (full MSRP, "We don't do discounts").

 

So the next time you wonder why an ice screw is $100, this is much of the explanation. Not all of it, to be certain, but a lot of it.

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Ice screws cost $100 because a CNC turning center costs $200,000, not to mention the rest of the process and testing equipment, numerical control programming/programmers, liability insurance, blah, blah, etc, etc, etc. Screaming deal. I have no hard numbers, but my guess is that the profit margin is minimal. The solution? 10 million Chinese ice climbers heading into the hills, fully adorned.

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