Do manufacturers read blogs?

I’ve been writing this blog for nearly three years now. In that time I’ve commented on a lot of gear, giving views and occasionally suggesting areas for improvement. I’ve not sought out manufacturers and distributors. Neither have I solicited gear for review. What has surprised me has been how few comments I have received from the outdoors trade. Do the “professionals” read blogs and do they care?

The biggest surprise has been that Terra Nova haven’t been in touch about my Laser Comp mods. In my view, these have significantly improved a good tent. In fact, if they were to allow me, I could suggest a few more that could be designed into the tent that would make it an even better tent.

I’m not bothered about charging for my time or ideas or, indeed, blagging free kit. I do this for fun. My restless mind is always looking for improvements in whatever I do, and that includes backpacking gear and techniques. What prompted this line of thought was a blog entry where POE had bothered to answer some issues on their Ether Elite mat. Well done POE for engaging with the bloggersphere.


11 thoughts on “Do manufacturers read blogs?”

  1. Alpkit commented when I slated their trekking pole handles coming off. Some chap who designs Caldera cones commented when I spilled a few facts about them catching fire on another blog. Maybe they only comment when things are going well? I asked the Caldera design guy to email me for some feedback ( I have seen Caldera cones catch fire Robin) he never did. I doubt they care Robin. Only people worth there salt are fine folks like Henry Shires. He reads the blogs. Commented on mine about the Scarp1 many a time.

  2. Robin, some do some don’t. Some care what we write, other don’t give a dam and dismiss blogs. Like all things really.
    I manage somehow to get comments on mine from time to time from them.
    I suppose it all depends how switched on the manufacturer is really.

  3. I exchanged a few e-mails with one of the guys at Terra Nova when he contacted me through Outdoors Magic after I’d slated off the Laser. In the end I firmly believed that the Phreeranger was a superior design and he believed the Laser was superior.

    You have to look at it from the manufacturers point of view, in Terra Novas case they’re selling a massively popular product and have been for years and that doesn’t look set to change and set that against the preferences of someone who by his own admission like to tinker with stuff.

    I would imagine that if a manufacturer does pick up on something mentioned on a blog and felt it was a worthwhile improvement they’d simply implement it without feeling they needed to get in touch with the blogger.

    In reality bloggers and even the active membership of forums only represent a very small percentage of those participating in outdoors activities and most will simply purchase and use unlike some of us who can find faults/deficiencies in almost every piece of kit. The cottage industry is more likely to respond to the suggestions of bloggers as it’s closer to the market they’re aiming at.

  4. In my experience, the smaller companies, desperate to get started with new products, make comments. When they get bigger, whether it’s self-important arrogance or because they’re too busy with orders to respond, or they read some blogs but not others – who knows? Either way, it makes good business sense to court your consumers & seek their opinions, especially in a small, specialist arena. Outdoor companies should take note but they won’t. I’ve asked some obvious contenders for opinions & not even received an email reply let alone comments. Sad really…

  5. One reason is that most suggested mods will be welcomed by some and cursed by others. TN took notice when some people complained about a bottom-mounted door on the Voyager, so they changed it to a side-hung door – and it’s a bloody nuisance, I wish they hadn’t.

    The same applies to some of the LC mods. Several people have said that the horizontal restraining cord to prevent the door not closing is a top priority, but I find it totally unnecessary and it would add complication for nothing. Incidentally, that may be the cause of some of the noise (which I haven’t noticed at all) – if the door is prevented from becoming taut, it will flap and make a din (like the Akto).
    If they fitted a porch groundsheet, I’d have to pay SMG to remove it – it isn’t the slightest use to me, just unnecessary weight.

    1. Fair points Geoff. I was with you on the drop down style door until I read Fjaderlatt on the Photon. The drop down door is not as good at keeping out insects when open.

      I don’t think the threshold cord makes the fly door flap as it adjustable. The idea is to tension the fly with the door closed and the seam hook engaged then tension the cord so it takes the strain when the door is opened and then closed again. The design of the tent means that in certain directions the wind makes the fly noisy no matter how well it is pitched. Having had a lot of practice my Laser is nearly always pitched drum tight as you can see from my photos. 😉

      I don’t advocate a porch groundsheet as standard. I happen to like it as it extends the useable space. It is superfluous in my Scarp as there is enough room inside.

      Simple things like pockets, cord locks on the pole hood (or redesign), hooks to link the groundsheet shock cords with the fly, etc etc (just look at the mods page!) would improve the Comp.

      I am just surprised that manufacturers seem to largely ignore blogs when they are (potentially) a great source of ideas and product testing. In the end I’m not bothered, just surprised.

  6. I guess many manufacturers just want to get their products from the Chinese factory into the retail outlet making it as highly a profitable as they can. Much like everything else these days.

    Then there are the few which do try to tweak things too much and charge excessively for it!

    We need some equilibrium somewhere? Oh yeah, Pertex claimed that one….

  7. all good points and an interesting thread Robin.

    I guess that manufacturers probably respond to direct contact – letter, email, phone and may not have the time/intelligence/smarts to check out people’s blogs……their loss

    I think the LC mods you have put on your blog are brilliant and although I havent adopted all of them I have used a few and in my opinion vastly improving the LC from a 3 to a 4 season tent

    In the end though, whatever the media, the manufacturer will take a balanced view of whats good and not so good on a tent and make a commercial decision. If they receive 1000 letters on a product and 99% are from satisfied customers, the other 1% no matter if the mods they suggest are truly awesome may just not get a look in

  8. I’ve been a bit surprised at the low level of interaction with blogs and social networking by UL gear manufactures.

    It seems like using hiking forums/blogs/twitter etc to evangelize UL gear would be a great way to draw more people into the approach.

    Besides responding to blog re: products, are any manufactures particularly good about having interactive communication about their products, approach etc?

  9. Do manufacturers read outdoor magazines? Or books. It’s not just blogs. I’ve been reviewing gear in magazines for nearly 30 years. During that time I’ve made many suggestions for improvements to gear. Very few have ever been taken up. I’m also still sent gear to test with features that I have often said I hate (like mesh linings and zips for attaching a fleece in waterproof jackets – guess what I’m reviewing at present).

    1. I find it odd that manufacturers take so little notice of someone with your experience and depth of knowledge. More understandable with me 😉

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