A couple of weeks ago, our team made the trek to Madison, Wis., to attend the Canoecopia expo. This three-day consumer event really kicks off the watersports season for much of the industry, and thus the paddling community often treats Canoecopia as a kind of crystal ball to gauge how the upcoming season will look.
We are pleased to report back that if this event is any indication of what to expect from the 2013 season, things are looking good. Not only were spirits high and attendance booming, but sales were up at Canoecopia this year across the board, and Confluence as a whole saw plenty of success as people responded positively to our brands’ product offerings. In fact, the Harmony Stowaway Cart was even named in the top eight pieces of gear at the event by Canoe & Kayak.
A trend we were happy to see at this show was an increase in buyers. The economic hardships we’ve experience in this country over the past several years has forced people to buckle down on budgets, but over the course of the expo, we saw more paddlers – new and experienced alike – ready to buy than we have in a long time, which seems to suggest that the pressure might be lifting.
Another theme we saw come out of this show is a need for versatility. Paddlers want a boat that can span a range of needs on the water, and they need performance and reliability in a variety of situations. These consumer needs meant that our new crossover boats, the Perception Expression 11.5 and Wilderness Systems Aspire 10.5 flew off the shelves well before the end of the expo.
We also saw plenty of families looking to get on the water together. As people look for new ways to get outside and active with their loved ones, kayaking presents as a fun, aerobic, adventurous, and accessible option. Our latest addition to the family-friendly Prodigy line is the Prodigy XS, a boat built for smaller paddlers and perfect for children. This model also garnered a good bit of attention throughout the event.
One of the largest standouts for us at this show, though, was the Phase 3 AirPro outfitting in our Wilderness Systems kayaks, particularly among anglers. Every Wildy boat was updated for this season with our revolutionary outfitting system, and it has been getting rave reviews for its outstanding comfort and customization options. While the features of the Phase 3 AirPro will certainly benefit anyone who spends time in their kayak, the technologies in this system have been creating quite a buzz in the kayak fishing world. Kayak angling is exploding, and as enthusiasts get more invested and start to spend more time enjoying the sport, they need gear that can perform along with them. When we created the Phase 3 AirPro system, we believed that we had truly set a new standard in comfort and customization for kayak outfitting, and we are excited to hear that our hard work, in-depth research, and tireless testing have paid off.
Overall, Canoecopia felt like a great success both for us and for the paddling community as a whole. We are excited to move into the height of the 2013 season with confidence that it will be the best season yet. Happy paddling!