It’s very easy to get caught up in reasons not to do something. Especially if you’re feeling a little low, a little less than your normal self.
Too cold? Too wet? Not feeling it? Don’t think you’re good enough? All easy reasons to decide not to get on the water.
Well hopefully, here’s something to give you a little inspiration… I bet your excuse no longer seems so valid when you watch these.
One of the great things about paddleboarding is the almost non-existent learning curve, and the ease of access to the board. With no gunnels or raised edges, almost anyone can get on a SUP no matter what their physical ability.
Maybe this is why we’ve started to see ‘paddleability’ type instructors and courses springing up around the country. At McConks, we’ve been working with Beyond Boundaries East Lothian for several years now, using their advice to design inclusive kit, and supporting their efforts to get people with a range of abilities on paddleboards.
But in the last few months, the paddleability world seems to be growing at a rate of knots.
We’ve got big things to announce in 2020 all courtesy of our GoInspire initiative. But we can;t tell you much about them yet. Until then, have a look at what some of our friends and partners have got up to.
This video is the inspirational Laura May from Anyone Can, paddling alongside specialist adventure provider able2adventure and with instructor Elspeth Mason from outdoor experience provider Mere Mountains paddling from Fell Foot.
This video is from the very inspirational Beyond Boundaries East Lothian paddling in and around Haddington on the North East coast.
So we’ll ask again? What’s your excuse now? Get out on the water and inspire others!
There must be at least 6 companies who claim to be #1 SUP in the UK. But have you ever seen any evidence to justify it? Red Paddle claim to be the biggest selling SUP brand in the UK, and that is probably true. But the other companies who claim to be the best, the most rigid, the best value. Is there any truth in their claims?
Well, most of them don’t provide any evidence or information to back up their claims so we have no way of verifying them.
But one thing we can do is look back at the SUPhubUK survey that was undertaken in 2018. That survey was completed by over 1200 paddlers and 200 SUP instructors. So whilst we can’t guarantee it is fully representative, it is one of the (if not the) biggest surveys of SUP paddlers that’s publicly available. So it’s not a bad place to start.
That survey tells us something a little different to what you might believe if you only read facebook sponsored posts, or ambassador placed posts!
Who is the #1 paddleboard brand for overall happiness from customers?
What brand makes the most rigid SUP?
The graph below shows the results of any brand that scored more than 3. However, because of the risk of bias with smaller datasets, the list only shows averages of brand with more than 10 responses
Which brand has the best build quality
Which brand makes the boards that last the longest?
Which brand gives best value for money
Best accessories bundled with SUP
Now, we have to be a little bit honest, we were surprised to be #1 in every category!
‘Tis the season to be merry: the gift of sustainable giving
Giving gifts, when you get it right, is a joy. When you’ve bought a present that makes you happy as well as makes the recipient happy, you know you’ve nailed it.
But if you’re anything like us, you probably find it a bit of a struggle every year to square the circle of buying interesting and meaningful presents and remaining sustainable and ethical.
After the madness of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, you might be a little sick of false bargains and gimmicky marketing tricks – we definitely are!
So these are our tips for buying gifts that paddleboarders will love, without buying yourself a guilty conscience.
Experience gifts and memories that last
Study after study, and personal experience have shown that the best types of Christmas present are experiences rather than things: you remember and talk about experiences for years, but things lose their value quickly as the next best thing becomes available. And if you don’t to buy an experience (maybe you’re worried about that useless loved one forgetting about the voucher, and it expiring – been there, done that!), the next best thing you can do is to buy thing that helps them get out there and make their own experiences!
Lots of our brand partners and friends are schools, guides and instructors who offer amazing experiences year round. But on the basis that you might not want to buy a gift to be used in the cold winter months, nearly all of them all also let you buy gift cards. Check out the list of providers who gift cards for experiences belo.
Buying from a small company sometimes takes a bit more effort, or planning, than buying from amazon, or ebay for example. But it is so much more rewarding. Often, the personal customer service you get is way better than anything offered by a nameless, faceless multi-national. And the products are often much better as well.
At McConks we pride ourselves on being as sustainable and ethical as we can be – whether that be low impact manufacture, or organic and fairwear clothing. And that’s why you can buy with confidence from us, guilt free. If you’re interested, you can find out more about our ethical principles here, or you can read about what we do to give something back through our Go Inspire initiative here.
Floating handmade shades for SUPers
Made from organic cotton and recycled ocean waste, and printed with eco dyes, these are as sustainable as they get – and come with plastic free packaging.
Are you looking forward to Black Friday, in anticipation of the massive savings you’re going to make buying new gear? Hoping to get the last of 2017 kit at 30% off? Maybe even 50% off? Thinking of buying a £100 box of kit for £60?
Before you do, make sure you read these 7 techniques that all of the big brands and retailers use to influence how you buy.
This is also known as reciprocity and the concept is simple – if someone does something for you, you naturally will want to do something for them. So this might be a free lesson, a free pizza and prosecco evening, or a free pump and digital camera. According to the theory, if you’ve ever gotten a mint with your bill at a restaurant, you’ve been the victim of reciprocity. The strength of reciprocity has been tested in numerous experiments, and where the restaurant only met the norm – providing one mint – the tip jumps 3.3%. When the exceed expectations by providing two expense mints per customer, the tip jumps by 20%.
So when you see a freebie – don’t get overexcited. It’s probably not free but actually loaded into the price point, and it’s only there to make you buy. And often the freebie, in the world of watersports is a really low value of poor quality item, and the cost has already been included in the sale price anyway!
Have you ever played the game where one person says a word, and the other immediately responds with the first thing that comes to mind? That’s kind of how priming works. You’re exposed to one stimulus, and it affects how you respond to another stimulus.
So how does this work in watersports sales?
Notice when you go to an expensive brands website, price isn’t the first thing you see? You might see a stunningly well presented video that shows lots of young, happy paddlers having the time of their lives. Or it might show a stunning carousel of the kit being used in high octane adventurous activities. These things are designed to prime you to something other than the high price point of the expensive luxury goods.
And at the other end, the really cheap budget brands what’s the first thing you see? The price in big red lettering, normally with some sort of discount already built in. So you’re primed to the higher price which makes the discounted price even better. And surely everyone now knows that you never purchase the item on day 1. The trick that every savvy buyer knows now is to register, login, put the desired item in your basket, and then go away again. Invariably with budget brands you will get an email overnight asking why you’ve left the item in your basked and offering you a further discount. And this price then seems even more attractive because you had been primed to a higher price. Just make sure you unsubscribe quickly after the purchase otherwise you will not doubt be spammed every day with their best offers once you’ve succumbed to one marketing trick!
So watch out for these subtle priming techniques. You might not even know it, but the shop or search engine might already have details on your purchasing habits and spending power, your age and location, and be serving up a primed advert or website that is specifically tailored to you.
I’m sure that everyone is aware of the power of social media marketing these days. But brands rely heavily on the power of ‘social proof’. That is the theory that people will adopt the believes and actions of others. You’ve probably noticed this if you’ve holidayed in a location with lots of restaurants / tavernas. One night, ‘restaurant A’ might be really busy and ‘restaurant B’ is totally dead. Despite you knowing full well that the food on offer is equally good, and the menu and prices similar. And yet later in the week, ‘restaurant B’ is full to the which restaurant got the first customers that night. Once a restaurant has customers, then it is more likely to attract customers. And have you noticed that you no longer get offered window seats in restaurants, and you used to be offered them regularly? These are prime marketing material for restaurants, and they try to fill them with hip and attractive 20 something couples.
In the watersports branding world, shares, likes, reposts are all important demonstrations of social proof. So make sure you’re really only giving your social proofing to brands that you’re actually to recommend to your friends!
Oh, and if you do like a brand page and / or share their content just to enter their competition (and who hasn’t), but you’d rather not give that brand your props in the future, you can always go back after the comp to unlike the page or post!
This is the art of generating artificial price points to make the most expensive (or the highest margin to the retailer) seem most attractive. The example below shows how this works.
The lesson here is that those savings aren’t ‘real’, and if you ever did want to buy a board only package, you might that if you talk to the retailer, as the decoy price of £750 is a starting point for a negotiation!
There are some boards being sold for 40% off in 2019 Black Friday deals that have never been sold at the alleged higher price. There are some direct sale brands that have had sale prices on the same boards for over 12 months now!
Ever gone back to a product that you looked at yesterday, and which now suddenly says ‘Only 3 left at this price’?
Did you know that some only stores can record your visits and change the message they give you to generate the of scarcity? Admittedly, that’s a whole level of coding and design that most watersports sellers do not stoop to, but it is theoretically possible. But many do employ the scarcity tactic generally “make sure you buy now because this discounted price will only last for the three we have in stock”. And the aim is to make you buy there and then. Beafore you find out that there are better deals out there elsewhere, or alternatively, before they discount the price even more in the week before Christmas because they really need to shift that stock!
Ever wondered why it’s so hard to resist a sale at your favourite SUP retailer?
Often, it has to do with anchoring – people base decisions on the first piece of information they receive. So if your favourite store typically retails this year’s boards for £900, but you find them on sale on Black Friday or at the end of the season for £650, you’ll be over the moon. And using the power of social proof, you will also tell of your friends what a great deal you got. But if your friend has already got as good a board for £600, they won’t be nearly as impressed. That original price has two purposes. Firstly taking money from the early adopters and fashionistas who just can’t wait for the right price, and just have to have the new kit (even if it’s no different to what they already ride). And secondly, it’s a decoy – to act as an anchor to make the discount price seem so attractive.
And going back to a point made earlier, this is why retailers will state the initial price of the product (this is “setting” the anchor), and then display the sale price right next to it, even with a % reduction just to make it totally option.
Some brands contract their retailers to only sell at the RRP until a certain date in the year, at which point they can sell at a discounted price. This is all to do with ‘anchoring’ that price point, and getting that price point widely understood, and making sure that the ‘price means quality’ principle is firmly established.
They’re everywhere these days
Ever first noticed a new brand, and then start seeing it everywhere you look? You can thank the The Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. It starts happening after you encounter something for the first time, and then you start noticing it cropping up in everyday life. Suddenly you see friends using the kit that you hadn’t spotted before, and then it appears all over your facebook feed, and in your google search products, and on insta.
It’s weird right?
This phenomenon (also called “the frequency illusion”) is caused by two processes. The first, selective attention, kicks in when you first notice something. You subconsciously look for it in the future, and as a result find it surprisingly often. Secondly, confirmation bias reassures you that each sighting is further proof of your impression that the thing has gained overnight omnipresence.
And this effect is really important to brands. Many adopt something called retargeting, which involves their ads being served up to you tie and time again if you have clicked on their website. And if you have liked something on facebook or insta for example, the algorithms will make sure you see more of the content from that brand in the future. The conbination of this effect, plus targeted emails from those brands you signed up to, reconfirms the bias in your mind that they must be reliable companies if they are so ubiquitous!
According to a study by Poppenk, Joanisse, Danckert, and Köhler, people are more likely to remember the gist of what someone said, not the specific details. And in these days of information overload, this is especially true. Brand marketers know this and structure their content in such a way that allows future recall of headlines or throwaway items.
So the content that gets shared the most on social media is short, snappy, and has a snappy headline. Unlike this article. Long reads are definitely out of fashion.
So content these days is designed to search and sharing friendly, and headlines will describe what’s in the article by using a snappy or catchy phrase. This way, when people are looking for more information on a given topic, they’ll think of that one helpful article they read a while ago and Google the topic to find it again.
Hopefully now you’ll be a little bit better equipped to withstand the many ways that retailers try to extract your money from you over the next 4 weeks.
If you want the very best bargains this year then check out our 2020 preorder or Grade A ex demo 2019 boards. There’s a reason why so many instructors and outdoor professionals from the MOD to the Princes Trust use McConks kit – reliability, robustness and price!
Do you get the most pleasure from having what you want, when you want it? Do you get a thrill from being a little impulsive with your money? Or do you get the biggest emotional pick me up from planning wisely, choosing, and then looking forward to something in the future?
These two types of pleasure are described as instant gratification and deferred gratification respectively. Scientific studies of emotion and hormones have concluded that waiting, anticipating, and looking forward longingly to a special treat is what gives most people the greatest pleasure. But we also know that, in general, people are really poor at choosing deferred gratification over instant pleasure. Ask a kid whether they want one sweet today, or two sweets tomorrow, and they’re pretty certain to choose one sweet today (1). As we get older we typically get a little better at choosing to wait, but but we’re still not (in general!) very good at waiting for the pleasure.
So ask most people if they would rather a used, second hand 2019 paddleboard without a warranty right now, for the same price as a brand new one with a three year warranty in January 2020, and most people will choose the instant gratification. And it goes without saying this is the wrong choice for most people, most of the time.
If you’re smarter than most people, and fully buy into the idea of deferred gratification, and can wait until January 2020 or April 2020 for 30% off brand new SUP packages (2), then McConks are for you. If you’re a SUP school or instructor wanting to take advantage of our preorder deals, register here. If you’re not a business, check out our preorder deals here.
If, however, you need instant gratification, are worried about sustainability, and don’t want to buy new, and are looking for an instant deal check out our ex demo/graded products here (3) – which still come with a warranty and first class return to manufacturer customer service from McConks.
And if you want to know why we’re offering these discounts, check out the slides below. (and if they don’t work, you can view them here)
(1) So established is this as an economic and scientific principle, that it’s built into pretty much every economic model, future benefits being discounted to account for this perceived lower value in the future (2) 50% non-refundable posit needed when order is placed by 15 December 2019, remaining 50% payment before delivery. And you can get 4 months interest free credit with PayPal
Do you ever think about how you’d recover some who had had a heart attack? Or someone who has fallen critically unwell? Or someone who’s just blood knackered after a hard paddle and who can’t make it back safe?
If you paddle as part of an accredited SUP or paddleboard club, then you’ll almost certainly know all this already, so sorry for wasting your time. If you don’t, ask your club why not! But for everyone else who’s learning as they go along, these videos are a great safety aid. You just need to go out an practice them now.
It’s 2019. We’re meant to live in a modern, liberal, progressive society. But peer pressure, shame and guilt often still play too big a part in this world. People are still held back from achieving what they feel they’ve been born to achieve.
Sometimes it’s the individual themselves. Sometimes it’s their family. Sometimes it’s their community. But all too often we hear this very sad story.
Even if they’re from a society where difference is tolerated, they may grow up feeling incredibly ashamed and scared of their feeling, and therefore hide them from a young age. We’ve heard people say that they’re terrified that their friends will view them differently and this will turn their world upside down; there is also often the fear that once you’ve opened up and told them, they’ll start to doubt your motives.
Watch this touching movie to find out more.
Let go of anger
These people don’t mean to hurt you. They’re just stuck in their ways. But you can outgrow them, you can outshine them. You can fly their world and on to better things.
It’s extremely easy to let your angst at hiding your true feelings turn into anger or jealousy. You might see paddleboarders having fun all around you, and feel resentful that they can be open, and free and happy.
These negative thoughts are not unexpected, since you’ve strengthened those particular brain pathways through years of hating yourself for cheating on canoeing. They say ‘neurons that fire together wire together’, meaning that anything you do/think repeatedly becomes a learned behavior.
We’re so pleased to have helped Steve Smith of Causeway Coast Kayak Association along the road to happiness and freedom. It may have taken a whole six years from the video being made to finally have the courage to make the change. But finally, a 10’6 Go Anywhere, a 11’4 Go Explore and a 12’8 Go Explore give Steve everything he needs to satisfy all his demands. What’s more, they form the perfect range of paddleboards to drag his canoe and kayak friends at CCKA kicking and screaming into the modern world. Suitable for kids to play and roam, for adults to develop and practise skills, and also for those who want to adventure and explore.
You too can be as free as Steve! Don’t let your canoe/kayak friends, family or club hold you back!
Just a bit of fun
This whole article is of course firmly tongue in cheek. The canoe and kayak fraternity have been extremely good to us at McConks, and have been some of our best partners and customers from the word go. We’re pleased to have many friends across the paddlesports sector, including some who, for some unknown reason, have still never yet ventured on a SUP. But they’re few and far between these days 🙂
BC affiliated club discounts
We’re pleased to be able to offer club discounts on to clubs affiliated to British Canoeing. We can also offer some spectacular discounts to clubs willing to preorder fleets of SUPs in 2019 for delivery in 2020. Email us for more details
Win a McConks Go Explore 11’4 iSUP with Surfers Against Sewage
When Surfers Against Sewage contacted us earlier this year to be one of the star prizes in the raffle, we thought about it for all of two or three seconds before saying ‘hell yes, please’.
It is incredibly humbling to be given the opportunity to support such an important cause, and even more flattering to be the only SUP brand to be given the chance to do so. For such an important national charity to select little old McConks, made us feel like we were really punching above our weight! And when we found out what other prizes were in the raffle, we realised we were in very esteemed company. Many larger brands would give their right arm for an opportunity like this, but having spoken a lot with the lovely people at SAS over the last few months, it’s clear that our principles and ethics align, and it makes us really happy to know we were chosen because of this. Principles matter, and it’s awesome to see that these principles aren’t overshadowed by the slightly dirty necessity of fundraising.
As the leading water environmental charity working on behalf of recreational water users, Surfers Against Sewage run deep in the veins of Andy and Jenny. Andy first worked on a joint press release between Friends of the Earth Cymru and Surfers Against Sewage back in 1998 (1), and both have been regular members and avid consumers of SAS hoodies and t-shirts over the years. So we just had to snap up the chance to help SAS deliver their purpose to ‘inspire, unite and empower communities to protect oceans, beaches, waves and wildlife’.
The only downside of being asked to donate, is that we can’t buy tickets. So of course we don’t need to win one of our own boards, but have you seen the other prizes? We’re rather gutted. We’d love the chance to build our own wood surfboard with Arbo, or have a to night off grid eco adventure with Kents of Cornwall! So we’re just a little gutted!
To find out more about the amazing companies who’ve donated prizes, click the pictures below!
But, most importantly, if you want to win one of these awesome prizes, you need to be in it to win it. And of course, winning is the reason you enter, but even if you don’t, at least you get a that farm fuzzy feeling of knowing you’ve done your bit to improve the water environment by supporting SAS!
An 11’4 Go Explore iSUP, with ankle leash, our acclaimed SUP sac with chunky wheels and stowable back pack, triple action double chamber HP6 pump, and carbon fibre V83 high aspect paddle. And the confidence of knowing you’re paddling an iSUP from an ethical and sustainable family brand, that puts ethics and quality ahead of profit.
And if you don’t fancy your chances of winning and just need to get your hands on one of these boards, you can so here
So exactly how do McConks principles align with those of SAS?
We’ve removed unsustainable packaging from our products.
This doesn’t mean we’ve removed plastic – plastic is not the enemy, and in fact plastic always has been, and always will be, one of the best packaging materials for certain products. However, we have removed 100% all unnecessary plastic packaging (which was almost of all of it!), and most of our products will be packaged only in cardboard, paper, or vegetable based compostable plastic alternatives.
Sustainable marketing; meeting demand not creating demand
We don’t update our products every single year, with exactly the same technology rebranded as something new, or with slightly different colours. We leave that to almost every other SUP Brand whose debt levels require them to sell more and more every year. We just make great products with the best technology and make them to last for years. In fact, we’re so confident of our product quality, that we gaurantee them for 3 years and offer a 28 day no quibble return policy. In 2020, we are increasing that guarantee to 5 years!
It’s rather unfashionable in the world of sound bites and positive branding to define yourself by what you don’t do. But we’ve never followed the crowd. And we think what we don’t do is just as important as what we do.
What we don’t do is buy cheap t-shirts, baseball caps or car stickers in bulk from the cheapest factories in China just to give away and act as low cost advertising. We don’t make products just for the sake of making products and using our customers as free advertising. And when we do launch a new product line, we have considered the materials and the environmental impact of that product from the word go. So for example, our t-shirts, hoodies and rash vests are made of recycled plastic bottles and fishing nets, and salvaged fairtrade organic cotton waste from the textiles industry. Our floating shades are made of sustainable bamboo, and we really hope that our new changing robes will be too. And wherever possible our hardware products are made of sustainable materials; our standard fins are made of recycled plastic bottles as are our SUP bags. And our awesome dry bags are made from offcuts of PVC from the manufacture of inflatable SUP boards.
For a while, there’s been a settled view amongst experienced paddlers that the 12v pump in grey is the most reliable and fastest pump out there in the £75 – £150 bracket. Admittedly, it has its detractors, with some people having melted pistons and had switch and valve failures. But on balance it seemed to be the most reliable out of a bad bunch.
But then came along a new challenger. It had more striking livery, it had a digital display, and there were claims it was faster, quieter, and would make you paddle faster than Michael Booth. But we’d heard it all before. Every new pump on the market claimed to be better, and they rarely were.
This time however, things were different it seemed. A number of reviews from reasonably reliable sources seemed to confirm they were indeed faster and quieter. And we haven’t heard many negative things about them on the grapevine.
So we’ve got our hands on a few to test. And with an absence of objective side by side tests out there, we put them up against one another in a head to head race to 20PSI.
We used the same vehicle (A Ford Transit Custom DCIV if you’re interested – great vehicle, with, importantly, two identical 12V sockets)
We started the pumps at the same time – therefore environmental conditions were the same
We inflated both to 20PSI
So what did we find out?
The hose on the older pump looks less fragile than the new hose. The new hose seems a little more brittle, and probably won’t survive your van parking on it (as the old pump hose has done twice now). The fittings on both pumps are sturdy and solid.
Both units appear well made from the outside – well finished.
The new pump is slightly ligther than the old one.
The young upstart was definitely the quieter of the pumps when the first stage (high volume) compressor kicks in. Although we didn’t have a noise monitor, the difference was quite obvious. It has just an annoying whiney pitch sadly.
The second stage compressor (the loud one) kicked in about 30 seconds earlier on the new pump.
The second stage pump on both units were about the same noisiness. The new pump might have been very slightly quieter, but it was just as intrusive in a quiet neighbourhood. The use of either pump before dawn or after dusk is likely to draw the ire of neighbours.
They inflated at approximately the same rate. The new pump reached 7psi noticeably quicker, but then the old pump started to catch up. Although doing a direct comparison during inflation is difficult because the gauge needle bounces around so much on the old pump.
And the winner is…
Well, we don’t actually know. It was very, very close. To the extent that we don’t actually know which one finished first; they finished within two seconds of each other with a time of 11 minutes 30 (ish) seconds!
So in conclusion, there is very little to separate these pumps in terms of performance. And only time will tell if the new young upstart is more or less reliable than the old one!