Have you heard of Birch Box, Stitch Fix or Plated? These cutting edge delivery services fall within various industries, and they methodically bundle up and ship products to your doorstep. You subscribe. They deliver.
If this is a service that appeals to you, get ready. For the first time ever, the outdoor industry is getting its own version with Cairn, a new company that hand picks cool new gear and sends it straight to your door, once a month.
What is Cairn?
Cairn is a subscription delivery service that provides curated outdoor activity gear in a box. It’s perfect for people that enjoy spending time in the natural environmental, be it skiing, horseback riding, fly fishing, or camping, and want to experiment with some new outdoor products.
Each Cairn box contains a mix of goodies from four categories. Gear—things like headlamps, hammocks and straps; apparel—such as liner gloves, long underwear and beanies; food and energy supplies; and skin care products—such as sunscreen and insect repellents.
To formulate the best curation of products, Founder and CEO Rob Little incorporates two techniques:
The first is collecting demographic data. Basically, Cairn finds out who you are, what activities you like to do, and non-identifiable personal information like family size and whether or not you’re a vegetarian.
The second is a feedback survey sent out each month after the box is delivered. The more users vocalize what they like and use, the more the next box can be refined to fit their interests. Also, when they submit feedback they accumulate points, which accrue to earn free boxes.
Brands that work with Cairn
Along with its subscribers, Cairn has a second, not-so-obvious customer in the brands themselves. This service is a savvy marketing tool, as Cairn delivers their products straight into the hands of consumers, giving the companies exposure.
In addition, Cairn delivers the consumer data back to the brands. “Very few product delivery companies are leveraging data and that is setting us apart,” Rob said.
Basically, data can disprove or support current beliefs held by brands regarding the audience their product appeals to. They can use the provided beta to refocus their marketing strategy toward the demographics that use their product the most, or reinvent their marketing to reach the demographic they had hoped to connect with in the first place.
“Cairn is working to fundamentally change how outdoor enthusiasts find and purchase recreational products,” Rob said. “Initially, we are doing that through a monthly subscription service that introduces outdoor enthusiasts to new brands and products while simultaneously bringing data back to brands about how they’re doing in the market place.”
Cairn: Up Ahead
The most challenging part for Rob hasn’t been reaching brands, since nearly everyone he approaches is interested in getting involved. The biggest obstacle has been adapting to wearing so many different hats. However, Rob (a previous Peace Corps participant and product engineer for Lockheed Martin) is one focused, motivated boss.
“I love being able to respond and react quickly. When you work for a larger business or under a big management chain it can take a lot of time to make decisions that everyone agrees needs to be made. The most rewarding piece of [this job], and what stimulates me those most is having the ability to make those decisions immediately and then keep moving,” Rob said.
The concept for the business was first sparked when Rob was earning his MBA and studying e-commerce. He noticed a shift in how people were buying products, and realized the potential to “do something different” in the recreational world.
On a personal level, planning trips and discovering new gear fascinates and fuels him, so tying that passion into his business was a win-win. Rob began research and development in 2013 and launched the following year.
I received a complimentary goodie box from Cairn for this article. It included a Rock & Ice Magazine, 5-liter SealLine Baja Dry Bag, UCO StakeLight, Thunderbird Energetica Bar, and Skinnourishment climbOn SPF 30 Mineral Sunscreen.
From a product standpoint, the gifts are high quality and their price point exceeds the monthly subscription. Also, the items aren’t just thrown together. They are tactfully chosen, so you won’t get the same types of goods twice in a row or in the same box.
I loved the assortment, though some of the gear wouldn’t have been at the top of my list. This is a prime example of where the demographic studies and product feedback can help Rob tailor the boxes more specifically for each individual. If he had known that my top activities of this summer were trail running, hiking and cycling, the box could have better reflected those needs.
Regardless, I loved the concept. I would recommend Cairn to any outdoor lover that is excited about innovative recreational tools, adventure amenities and survival gear (so…just about anyone who plays outside!).
If you subscribed to Cairn, what types of goodies would you like to see?