Bend, Oregon: Cairn™ (getcairn.com), the first company to offer an innovative subscription box service focused specifically on outdoor enthusiasts, announces the hiring of industry veteran, Bill Inman. His responsibilities include the crucial role of managing relationships with brands, and curating products that will keep subscribers inspired to get outdoors. Inman held executive roles at ExOfficio, Merrell and Nike, but recently relocated to Bend to reconnect with the outdoor lifestyle and sports that led him to the industry in the first place. Rob Little, Cairn’s Founder and CEO, said, “I first met Bill at an Oregon Outdoor Alliance event last Fall, and soon after we started discussing the possibility of working together. With Cairn’s growth trajectory, I knew his knowledge of the industry and brand perspective would be a great asset.”
From Inman’s point-of-view, the potential for Cairn is incredible. “Rob’s vision for Cairn, focusing on the experience of discovery and inspiring people to get outside, aligns perfectly with my approach to the outdoor business. In my initial conversations with brands, it is clear that leaders see the opportunity to partner with Cairn to connect with consumers.” Since shipping the first boxes in March of 2014, the company has shipped almost 10,000 boxes to subscribers in all 50 states, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and even a few to Europe. Before long, the monthly volume could exceed that number.
A subscription for a monthly box is only $25, but Little says the value is much greater, in more ways than just monetary. “We aim to deliver about $35 in retail value for our subscribers, and we focus on full size, new products, not samples or closeouts. Each box has 4-5 products in it, and we have the ability to customize the box based on individual preferences. The best value comes from the experience of opening the box and being inspired to get outside and try out the product.”
The idea of a subscription box originated in the first half of the 20th century with the Oregon company Harry & David®’s fruit of the month club. In recent years, subscription boxes have experienced a resurgence, showing up in cosmetics, pet products and more. Cairn is the first to apply the model to outdoor activities. Since 95% of subscribers participate in hiking, camping and/or backpacking, much of the product is targeted at general outdoor use. However, Little explains, “we know what other sports our subscribers do. In the future, we will be able to offer special boxes to the climbers, mountain bikers, snow sports enthusiasts, yogis, etc. We have already delivered separate boxes for alcohol drinkers and non-drinkers, and our March box will be gender specific.” This flexibility keeps it exciting for subscribers who frequently describe receiving the Cairn box as “Christmas once a month.” Gift subscriptions are also a popular option.
Coming from the brand side of the business, Inman sees the value Cairn brings to both consumers and brand partners. “We put product directly in the hands of active outdoor users and inspire them to get outside. Because subscribers get points towards free boxes if they complete brief survey on the products in the box, our review rate is frequently over 40%. We provide that data back to the brands for them to use in the development or improvement of future products. The exposure we provide, combined with the data component, makes Cairn an incredibly effective marketing vehicle for both new and established brands.”
Kevin Murphy, responsible for Cairn's marketing efforts, works closely with brands featured in the box to maximize cross-promotional opportunities on social media. He explains, “we keep the contents of each month’s box secret until they hit subscribers’ doorsteps, but once that happens, we partner with the brands to ensure we are telling each brand’s story on Facebook, Twitter and other social platforms.” The interaction with fans is substantial, with subscribers posting pictures and videos of opening the box, and trying out products in the backcountry.
Cairn is based in Bend, Oregon. The company was part of the inaugural class of the Bend Outdoor Worx, an incubator focusing on startups in the outdoor industry. Cairn’s ultimate aim is to inspire and equip people who love the outdoors with products to help them make the most of their time outside.