I've always been wary of creating winter specific cycling clothing. My reason is that indoor cycling is so good that one no longer needs to risk black ice and miserable weather.
I first wrote about how indoor cycling's growth would impact demand for winter kit in December 2019. It's now 2021 and the ZWIFT platform has improved tremendously. Hardware that enables you to connect to it keeps improving as well. It's frankly amazing to see how much better hardware has become in 2021.
The only reason I am not on ZWIFT is because I have the luxury of riding outdoors all year. Singapore is near the equator and it is summer everyday.
However, for a growing number of RW's customers in the north, riding outdoors in Winter is becoming an activity they do less of. Especially when they already own a ZWIFT account and have an indoor trainer set up.
Here's what I believe - Indoor cycling will continue to grow and with that growth, it is uncertain if demand for winter cycling kit will be high. One thing I can be certain of is that more customers will ask whether they should invest in winter kit or a ZWIFT setup. Headwinds for winter clothing and tailwinds for ZWIFT-ing hardware.
The birth of The BIB Thermal & Winter Bib Tights with Pad.
- The BIB Thermal was designed be used in the fringe seasons - Autumn & Spring.
- The Winter Bib Tights with Pad was developed using a fabric that allowed it to be used in a wide temperature range : 0°C - 15°C (32 °F - 60°F). Technical details here.
I made both because I was curious to see which one customers preferred.
Winter Bib Tights outsold BIB Thermal by 6:1. Product redundancy was probably the reason.
Over the past year, sales of Winter Bib Tights was 6x the sales of BIB Thermal. I was expecting the former to be more popular, but certainly not 6x more popular.
Admittedly, I did design Winter Bib Tights to cover a wide temperature range, intentionally overlapping the temperature range that would have made BIB Thermals suitable.
If you're going to be spending over US$100 on a piece of clothing, it would be better if you can wear it in a wider range of conditions. More so if part of your budget will be allocated to a ZWIFT setup and you'd be riding outside less during winter months.
Customers seem to be agreeing with this approach. Winter Bib Tights outsold BIB Thermal by 6:1.
What's next for RedWhite?
As we appear to be riding a secular trend towards more ZWIFT and less real world riding during Winter, I don't plan on developing new winter-specific products for RedWhite.
The Winter Bib Tights with Pad is a product that appears to be a hit with customers looking for cold weather comfort. I will focus on investing more capital to keep this product adequately stocked throughout winter.
I have plans for more hot-weather garments in 2022. Customers can expect 3/4 summer bib tights and shorter inseam bib shorts in late 2022.
If you'd like to know more about my product strategy in the 2022/2023, I recommend reading this blog post.