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Educate yourself about Black Friday

Black friday

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.

The giveaway

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.

Get social

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!

Decoy pricing

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.dummy pricing


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 onky 2 leftprice’?

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!

Verbatim Effect

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!  

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Why paddleboarding is so popular

Naked SUP with Orlando Bloom

If there’s a sport that captures this year’s zeitgeist, it’s standup paddle boarding or SUP. Standup paddleboarding has been around for a decade or see, but it is the evolution of inflatable paddleboards that has really supercharged the appeal and development of SUP.  It seems that everyone has been keen to get in on the act this year, with Orlando Bloom paddleboarding naked, Bill Bailey appearing in the Guardian discussing his love of SUP on the Thames, and even Countryfile and Waitrose magazine featuring SUP in 2017.   And there are a number of reasons why SUP is the fastest growing watersport in the UK and the world right now:

  1. It’s accessible. Anyone; young, old, able, less abled are able to get on a board and paddle, as long as the board is the right size for the rider and conditions.
  2. All you need is water. Unlike most other board sports, you can SUP 24/7.  Admittedly some conditions are better than others; sun drenched waters and light winds are particularly appealing.  But SUP is independent of waves or wind.  Although there are speciality boards for racing, or for expeditions, or for esurfing, or for riding river rapids, a single all-purpose board can do all of this reasonably well.  And you can SUP anywhere; river, lake, sea or canal.  So there will always be somewhere to SUP within a few miles.
  3. It’s easy. With the correct board for your size and weight, you will  be up and paddling within minutes.  Even the most balance challengd beginners are stand up paddling within 15 minutes.
  4. It’s a great workout. It’s widely reported that SUP is good for the core muscles, and it’s also great for improving all round fitness; an hour paddleboarding will burn around 700 calories.  And because you’re in control of how hard you work and how far you go, it doesn’t matter what shape you start in.
  5. Once you have made the initial outlay in kit, there are very few ongoing costs. And although the initial outlay can seem significant, buying second hand, or buying smartly can reduce the initial outlay.
  6. Getting close to nature. Stand up paddleboarding puts you right out there to enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of nature.  With the water under your feet you’ll find that you have the perfect viewpoint to observe

    SUP with dolphins
    SUP with dolphins

    amazing creatures swimming and moving about below you.  You’ll be able to see birds in action, witness a serene sunrise, paddle through mist, or marvel at a breathtaking sunset. Whether you are on a solo, family, or social paddle stand up paddleboarding connects you with your natural surroundings.

  7. Quality time together. Whether river paddling to lunch in a riverside pub, or paddling down river with your children on the boards, SUP can be very sociable.  You can even bring your dog along for the ride.
  8. Stress reduction. Fed up of busy crowded beaches?  Paddle to that secluded island or inaccessible beach around the headland.  Skinny dipping. Paddle far from the madding crowd, strip, and dive in the water.  SUP is a great way to unwind and relax.  Beautiful sunsets, inspirational sunrises, paddling in amazing places reduces stress and recharges your batteries.
  9. Free dinner. Tie a crayfish or lobster pot net behind the board, add bacon and paddle.  Or take a fishing rod with you.  Easy to find your own perfect spot.  And then grill them up on the beach when you get back.  Probably with a cold beer!
  10. Deflate the board, roll up, and pack away in the convenient wheeled rucksack that comes with the best inflatable paddleboards. No worrying about tired dogsarms strapping the boards to the roof or trying to squash everything into the car.  You can be on the road in a few short minutes after getting off the water.

If these reasons don’t make you want to rush out and get your hands on an inflatable paddle board, then nothing will!

Visit our webshop to find out how easy it is to get hold of great quality, affordable paddleboard kit!



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How to design a multi day touring SUP board

About 6 weeks ago, we got an intriguing email from someone we didn’t know that just said:  “Are you a UK SUP company? Where are you based? Where are your SUPs made?”

Being pleased that someone had even heard of McConks, we drafted a short reply, saying that we were UK based, and that we designed our boards in the UK but sadly, like all of the other iSUP brands, had to use overseas manufacturers to make them, simply because the supply chain isn’t available in the UK.

We then got an even more intriguing email that said: “I’ve got something that might interest you”.

The emails were from Georgina Maxwell, an outdoors professional and coach. She certainly knows how to generate suspense, because we couldn’t find out what was so interesting for a whole afternoon!  We didn’t know it then, but that’s when our involvement in the #malteseSUPproject began.

George explained why her and three of her close friends were going to be paddling around the three islands of Malta in November 2016. George’s enthusiasm was infectious, and we were sold on the concept almost immediately. There were two things that George said that made our decision to be involved really easy.

– The trip is all about how accessible SUP is. They want to show how easy SUP is, even for their friend Sonja and her battles with Malcolm.  Read Sonja’s blog for more information
– She wanted to work with us because she really valued our concept of providing good honest fantastic quality kit, at an affordable price that made SUP much more accessible and inclusive.

We had been beavering away over the summer designing our lineup for 2017, and an expedition board was already set to be part of the lineup. However a prototype hadn’t yet been ordered, let alone manufactured. We worked with George to refine and improve the design of the explorer board, although we refused point blank to make it in shocking pink as requested! It was then a case of working with our supplier to get the board made as quickly as possible.

So, what was behind the design of the George’s board?

Deckpads are a compromise between non slip and comfort. Some of the most ‘grippy’ deckpads, are fine to stand on for a few hours, but not for days on end. Some deckpads actually make McConks feet go numb after a few hours paddling. We therefore worked hard to find the best compromise between grip and comfort.

The Mediterranean can be quite choppy and stormy in November. The board needed to be easy to paddle, stable, and carry lots of kit. Using 3D modelling we settled on a 12’8 x 31″ x 6″ as being ideal for these conditions.

The expedition will be a multi day expedition which could involve carrying the board, plus the attached kit, a decent distance from the shore. Comfortable handles were therefore a must. We’ve worked hard to make sure there are plenty of handles in just the right place for portage. The added benefit is that they can also be used for additional items, such as the obligatory trombone or trumpet, to be lashed to the handles when short of space. These handles also allow George to haul herself out of the water when her expedition partners decide it’s time for her to swim!

Paddling upwind, upcurrrent in the Med in November can be a real challenge. The board has paddle gloves which allow a kayak paddle to be securely held in place, and attachment points for a SUP seat to allow George to sit when two blades are the only thing that will make headway against a 20 knot headwind and 10 knot current!

A standard US fin box with a 6″ fin designed to keep the board on the straight and narrow is supplied. Two additional Futures Fins boxes allow additional side bites to be plugged in in strong cross currents or cross winds. And allow for the board to be used to ride downwind runs, and to bite into what surf swell there may be.

12'8 board
McConks new explorer iSUP. Now with high pressure fusion enhanced drop stitch technology.

Secure storage was essential. A multi day, long distance trip means that George needs to carry all her kit with her, on the board. We therefore designed two separate storage areas, both fore and aft. We also put non slip strips on the deck under the storage to stop kit shifting about on the water and impacting on board trim.

Transportability was hugely important on an international trip, so a good quality bag was essential. Our new bag is sturdy but lightweight. With supersize wheels, the bag is easy to pull through most environments, whether it be a grassy field or airport concourses. For more difficult or uneven terrain, the stowable shoulder and waist straps are really comfortable for long hikes. The internal straps keep the board secure, and the external pockets allow all the accessories to be kept securely in one place. Chunky plastic zips will not be affected by corrosion, and fastenings inside the bag allow safe storage of George’s 3 piece carbon fibre and bamboo paddle.

The weight of the board was an important factor, and we are super pleased to introduce EDS technology to our boards for the first time. EDS technology stands for Enhanced Drop Stitch, and means a stiffer and lighter board than most other double layer boards. EDS means that the drop stitch is surrounded by an airtight and super-light polymer layer just before the outer PVC is fused to it under high pressure. This all happens at the raw material stage, and gives a much higher quality cosmetic finish with no air bubbles or creases. It also makes the boards a lot lighter than traditional two layer boards and much stiffer than normal two layer technology boards at the same pressure. Other brands call this technology MSL.

This board will be available in early 2017 in a package with our light and powerful carbon fibre paddle for less than £700.  Package price is still to be finalized.  Preorders will be delivered in time for Christmas, so if you’re seriously interested,  contact to let us know.

To keep up to date with McConks developments,  keep an eye on our website , or follow us on @mcconksUK (twitter , instagram and facebook).

To find out more about the #MalteseSUPproject, follow George’s blog here.