Skurka interviews GoLite President Demetri Coupounas
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Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Skurka interviews GoLite President Demetri Coupounas on 05/10/2012 07:10:33 MDT Print View

Some of you have probably noticed that for the last year GoLite has been offering very low -- almost going-out-of-business -- prices and opening up its own stores throughout the West; it also is no longer selling through the traditional retail market. I interviewed GoLite's President, Demetri Coupounas, yesterday to give him a chance to explain their new direct strategy. We also talked about product design, which has been "liberated" (his words) by their new business model -- specifically, it gives GoLite the sales volume necessary to produce niche products (think: Ion pack) and to enter product categories that they previously could not (e.g. merino wool base layers, free-standing tents).

Here's the interview: http://andrewskurka.com/2012/demetri-coupounas-golite/

Edited by askurka on 05/10/2012 07:27:10 MDT.

William Chilton
(WilliamC3) - MLife

Locale: Antakya
Faulty link on 05/10/2012 07:23:51 MDT Print View

The link seems wrong. It should lead to http://andrewskurka.com/2012/demetri-coupounas-golite/

David Lutz
(davidlutz)

Locale: Bay Area
"Skurka interviews GoLite President Demetri Coupounas" on 05/10/2012 07:24:06 MDT Print View

Link doesn't work for me....

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: "Skurka interviews GoLite President Demetri Coupounas" on 05/10/2012 07:27:58 MDT Print View

Fixed link in first post. Thanks for the tip.

Here it is again: http://andrewskurka.com/2012/demetri-coupounas-golite/

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Skurka interviews GoLite President Demetri Coupounas on 05/10/2012 08:39:38 MDT Print View

Coup says,

"Next year we will have the lightest free-standing tents on the market, at a very affordable price. It’s ultra-light for an ultra-low price."

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
The "new" Golite on 05/10/2012 09:00:37 MDT Print View

Looking forward to seeing what they come up with. I definately think they are ahead of mainstream manufactures with this business model. Hmmmm, lightest freestanding tents on the market? Maybe a return of the Ultra 20 with a bit more down for under $200. I like the design of the current 3 season quilt but the fabrics could be lighter.

Edited by Servingko on 05/10/2012 09:01:40 MDT.

Rod Lawlor
(Rod_Lawlor) - MLife

Locale: Australia
ShangriLa 6/8 on 05/10/2012 09:12:13 MDT Print View

Hi Andrew,

I don't suppose he had anything to say about these did he? I need a couple more for SAR. (I'd prefer to keep mine for the family!)

Rod

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: ShangriLa 6/8 on 05/10/2012 09:16:16 MDT Print View

No, he did not. But given what he said about niche products, you might see these come back. I know that they really liked the SL 6 & 8, in terms of its value as a product. But it just didn't sell well enough at traditional retailers, not surprisingly.

John Vance
(Servingko) - F

Locale: Intermountain West
Niche products on 05/10/2012 09:25:07 MDT Print View

I think it is the niche products that will interest the BPL community the most. I potentially see some very exciting products coming at lightweight prices - a winning combination in any economy.

Randy Martin
(randalmartin) - F

Locale: Colorado
GoLite on 05/10/2012 10:09:38 MDT Print View

Thanks Andrew for posting this. I find a lot to like in Coup's responses. Golite seems to be fulfilling a niche for Light and Ultralight clothing/gear on a larger scale with this model. The direct model does a great job of benefiting customers by eliminating unnecessary cost and ultimately makes good quality lightweight gear available to a broader market.

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Similarities between GoLite "direct" strategy and cottage model on 05/10/2012 10:31:18 MDT Print View

GoLite's new "direct" strategy almost puts it on the same level as the cottage companies. It's internet-driven, but also with stores.

Coup's experiences and observations are remarkably similar to those of cottage company owners. Here's a passage from Ron Moak's "Ultralight: State of the Revolution - Part 4":


"The Internet short circuits the traditional market place of manufactures, retail and consumers. It places the consumers in direct communication with the producers.

"For small budding markets like UL this is great. It allows the producers to quickly learn of problems without being filtered by the retail chain. Retailer and consumers have different needs and expectations. Addressing the needs of the retailer may have little or no benefit to the end user. Also, consumer issues may get garbled when traveling through the longer pipeline.

"For the producers, an even greater benefit to direct sales is the significantly enhanced margins available. ...Essentially these producers are splitting the normal retail margin between themselves and the consumer. For the buyer this is a great deal as they can get more value for their dollar."


Interestingly, Ron goes on to ponder the limitations of an internet-based strategy: "The big question of the next decade will be whether the lack of a retail presence for many UL products will stymie the spread of UL into a wider audience. Will dependency on the Internet ultimately impose a limit on how far we can grow?"

Maybe GoLite has found the solution with their combination: gear that serious backpackers will actually use, that can be modified quickly, that is cheaper than traditional gear, and that is widely available.

Here's the link to Ron's article: http://www.sixmoondesigns.com/blog/132-ulsor-p4.html

Edited by askurka on 05/10/2012 10:32:03 MDT.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Similarities between GoLite "direct" strategy and cottage model on 05/10/2012 10:52:56 MDT Print View

But, opening retail stores is the opposite of cottage companies

Very expensive

In order to pay for all the retail stores you have to sell huge amount of gear which makes you no longer a cottage company

It makes it difficult to have niche products - you have to mass manufacture, like in China, so you can't quickly respond to problems or adapt to new market opportunities

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Similarities between GoLite "direct" strategy and cottage model on 05/10/2012 10:55:08 MDT Print View

In order to pay for the retail stores you have to have products that appeal to mass markets - based on style and fads - rather than performance like having a simple product that is ultra-light

Andrew Skurka
(askurka) - F
Re: Re: Similarities between GoLite "direct" strategy and cottage model on 05/10/2012 10:56:24 MDT Print View

I'm not saying that GoLite *is* a cottage company, but that their business models are now more similar. Obviously, GoLite's model requires more capital, and it's not as conducive to instantly incorporating feedback into product design (though they can certainly be more reactive than a normal wholesaler).

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Re: Re: Similarities between GoLite "direct" strategy and cottage model on 05/10/2012 11:02:41 MDT Print View

I'm not "dissing" you or anything, I'm just saying...

In my opinion GoLite is now less similar to cottage companies

But, your article was interesting

GoLite could have a retail store that appeals to mass markets of stylish, faddish people and still sell some ultralight gear in the back of the store.

Or you could order something on the internet, pick it up at the retail store, if you have some problem go back to the retail store, ignore the stlish faddish people wandering around the store...

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: MidAtlantic
Re: Re: Similarities between GoLite "direct" strategy and cottage model on 05/10/2012 11:58:52 MDT Print View

"It makes it difficult to have niche products - you have to mass manufacture, like in China, so you can't quickly respond to problems or adapt to new market opportunities"

So are Lightheart Gear and SMD (and probably others) no longer cottage companies?

Ryan Smith
(ViolentGreen) - F

Locale: Southeast
Re: Re: Re: Similarities between GoLite "direct" strategy and cottage model on 05/10/2012 12:28:30 MDT Print View

"So are Lightheart Gear and SMD (and probably others) no longer cottage companies?"

By definition - no.

Ryan

Daniel Cox
(COHiker) - F

Locale: San Isabel NF
Better feedback on 05/10/2012 12:37:57 MDT Print View

I think this is a good thing for them, and really for anyone looking to move away from the traditional backpacking mentality. The majority of their products are affordable, easily accessible, well made gear that is quite compatible with the UL philosophy. It's not bleeding-edge ultralight, but they don't claim to be trying to fill that niche.
As long as GoLite has the channels to (and is willing to) let their customers feedback on their products, this gives them tremendous ability to respond quickly to consumer desires (2012 Jam shoulder straps, loss of windshirts) and improve their products.

Wandering around their store in CoS and the outlet in Castle Rock, I see a lot of gear that would be stellar if given some tweaks like lighter fabrics or cutting unneeded features.

jerry adams
(retiredjerry) - MLife

Locale: Oregon and Washington
Re: Similarities between GoLite "direct" strategy and cottage model on 05/10/2012 13:26:50 MDT Print View

"So are Lightheart Gear and SMD (and probably others) no longer cottage companies?"

If GoLite has retail stores then they aren't cottage - they have to have large sales volume to pay for stores.

But that doesn't mean GoLite doesn't have good products. They have a different business model with advantages and disadvantages.

Joseph R
(Dianoda) - MLife

Locale: Chicago, IL
Re: Skurka interviews GoLite President Demetri Coupounas on 05/10/2012 23:51:22 MDT Print View

Thanks for the interview, Andrew. Good to hear some explanations from the top about all the strange things we've been seeing from golite lately. Sounds like CS wasn't pulling my leg when they told me that there was a chance that the Ion or an Ion-like pack might be coming back as soon as this fall, along with a revamped product line. Fun times.