New to the Outdoors: Gear Cuts delivers product videos to boost sales for brands, retailers

As more consumers research and shop online, product videos are playing a larger role in helping close the sale.
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As consumers continue to opt for the ease and access of online shopping, both brands and retailers are seeking new ways to engage these virtual window-shoppers. The goal, of course, is to transition them from browsers to buyers.

Video is increasingly becoming the go-to solution and Ron Rod saw an opportunity to focus on the outdoor industry. His new company Gear Cuts specializes in creating product videos that highlight the ins, outs and aesthetics of outdoor gear.

“Traditionally, online you get two-to-six photos and some bullet-point text,” said Rod, who recently started the Durango, Colo.-based business with his wife, Barbara. “[With video] we’re trying to show the product off: How it fits, where it fits on the body and how the brand intended for it to fit.”

But don’t get Gear Cuts’ offerings confused with the content marketing trend SNEWS reported on last week. According to Rod, Gear Cuts isn’t your go-to resource for “hero content,” the footage of athletes enduring rough conditions and accomplishing incredible feats. His company’s crisp product shots and close-ups of detailing and extra features are not likely to rock YouTube with another viral sensation. Rather, Rod explains, the videos are “more of a tool to help show the product off better and help increase online sales.”

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Rod’s zeal for the outdoors began as a kid, when he spent time studying maps of the Appalachian Trail rather than playing catch with the neighborhood kids. During college, he refined his interest in lightweight backpacking by sewing together his own packs and then selling them to classmates. “I made enough money for beer … and some books,” he said.

Rod went on to earn a degree in apparel design and merchandising and hold tenure at GoLite, Pearl Izumi and Trek. With Gear Cuts he pairs passions for the outdoors and apparel design, along with a lifelong interest in photography: “I grew up with a camera in my hand,” he said.

The idea itself stemmed from Rod’s recognition that sites like Zappos.com were using short videos to highlight product features and present a 360-degree visual for the viewer. After keeping tabs on the trend for a couple years and checking out potential competitors (or lack thereof) in the outdoor industry, he launched Gear Cuts last January.

The business model involves four steps: Working with a brand to create a video strategy, receiving and prepping the products for their video debut, shooting the video, and then sending both the finished video and the products back to the brand. Thanks to Rod’s history with Pearl Izumi, the biking brand is currently Gear Cuts’ flagship client.

While the business model is simple, its execution requires great attention to detail. For one thing, using appropriate models is key to attracting the correct consumer and authenticating the brand. Rod takes advantage of Durango’s surplus of outdoor-lovers to nail the casting. “We want real people who look like they would actually use the product. You don’t want Fabio trying to sell some climber his new backpack,” Rod said.

When it comes to scriptwriting, Barbara applies her background in communications, journalism and marketing. Rod noted the task is more difficult than might be expected since it’s different than just pulling out product highlights and reordering the hangtag jargon. Rather, the script needs to be conversational as well as educational. “We’re trying to get your customer to see themselves in the product,” Rod said.

All in all, turnaround time tends to be around a month, while costs range from $250 to $750+, depending on a variety of factors like scripts, models and the number of detail shots.

Currently, brands are Gear Cuts’ target audience, largely because their budgets tend to be more robust than those of retailers. However, retailers, too, have ample opportunity to team up with Gear Cuts to highlight elements unique to their store. “You can include your perspective on things, your identity and voice,” he said. Again he references Zappos, which occasionally features real employees in their spots. “It’s quirky and funky, sometimes kind of out-there, but they do inject a lot of their brand. And it’s a differentiator.”

Videos are also an opportunity for brands to support their retailers by supplementing their online content with more depth than that provided by photos alone, Rod pointed out.

He admits that Gear Cuts has already run into difficulties, primarily potential clients either pointing to internal video resources already in place or regretting that they don’t have video as a budget line item. Still, he’s confident that his niche offering is a major value-add to any online dealer. In five years he hopes to service a handful of “great clients,” while still having time to float a river and hike the Colorado Trail.

“We’re not looking to be a massive company,” Rod said. “Part of the reason we chose this industry was the lifestyle.”

-- Courtney Holden

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