Thursday, October 11, 2007

Beef with Gaia

Ok, first I want to say that I think Gaia is a great company, in theory, and has the potential to really kick ass in ultimate gear production. However, there are a ton of things about the company that I can't stand and I wish they would do something about it.

First and foremost, make the gear that your sponsored teams have, available. Before Gaia changed their website layout, you could buy Furious, JAM, Dog, team USA, team Australia, and whoever else, jerseys, beanies, head bands, discs, the works. It was a bit pricey but hey, you couldn't get it anywhere else. Now, for whatever reason, all of those goods are unavailable. I had the good fortune of having a friend at club nationals last year who managed to secure me a Furious jersey and shorts, hopefully he can do the same thing this year. However, this should not be the case. I think that people would love to be able to buy their favorite teams' Jerseys (ok, maybe its just me), and if Gaia sponsors them, why not make it available to the general public. There may be some administrative complications that I am unaware of and/or production costs that may supercede profit margins, yada yada yada, stuff I don't know about. All I gotta say is, you used to be able to buy stuff with specific teams on it and now you can't. I think that sucks.

Second, their stuff straight up sucks half the time. I got a pair of furious wristbands and a hat and I could not be more disappointed. I mean, first, the wristbands aren't elastic, come on, are you serious? They are a pain in the ass to get over your hand and then when you get them on they just slide down because you have stretched them out. I know that there are things like product development or R&D but it doesn't take a designer genius to design a wristband, come on. Their hats also suck ass as well. I mean the depth of the hat is so shallow that it doesn't sit right on a person’s head. Maybe I just have a huge melon but the thing doesn't rest on my head right. I basically have to wear it like a yarmulka, which results in a few raised eyebrows my direction, but I care not, I want to support my team. In any event, once again, I don't see why they can't just take your standard trucker hat that you can buy off any website, poach the general layout and just slap "GAIA" and whatever else on it. It doesn't seem to be all that difficult.

Third, what’s with the college/elite/standard jersey design BS? I mean come on, they have all these design layout schemes that are supposed to make your team look more legit, but it just ends up making it look like the company is trying too hard. It seems to me that Patagonia and then maybe Under Armour produce a majority of the ultimate jerseys out there and there is a reason for it. They are comfortable despite the fact that they basically all look the same, your standard T-shirt made out of that elastic sort of material. Now GAIA has gone with this mesh sort of thing, which is cool, I suppose, not my first choice, maybe its cheaper, whatever. But what the hell is with the odd seams and bizarre layout schemes. They have weird color combination patterns and what not, and I don't think the general public gets it or cares. It seems like GAIA is putting so much effort into these jersey designs but they are actually hurting themselves in the process.

Fourth, along the same lines as 3, why does GAIA want to make everything? They have to make jerseys, and bags, and clip boards, shorts, wristbands, hats, sweatshirts, cleats, collared Ts, fleeces, nalgenes, it just goes on and on and on. Why spread yourself out so thin when obviously the things you make could be better? I hear the cleats are all right, a bit expensive but their warranty or whatever is good, fine. Great job, you got an ultimate specific cleat on the market, people actually buy them, and teams will endorse it. They may be hideous, but you succeeded there. Why reinvent the wheel? Why do you have to make all this other junk? Why devote so many resources in so many opposite directions to try and slap GAIA on everything? You want to make jerseys? Fine, make jerseys, but why make 9 different styles? Why not let a team give you a logo and have that be it? Why have elite or college or sleeveless or long shorts or short shorts or skirts? I mean I am looking at their website and they could not have more options. It's staggering and I am sure the problems that I have with the products I have purchased are equally prevalent in just about every other GAIA product. Why not just focus on 3 things, cleats, Shorts and Jerseys? Keep it to 1 maybe 2 designs for men and women. Focus on producing what customers actually want (take a few pointers from Patagonia) and then market surplus material for sponsored teams. Maybe there are GAIA enthusiasts that want to support the company, not necessarily the product (which would be un-intelligent) but I think developing a better marketing plan would be a better suggestion.

I want GAIA to succeed, I see the name on a lot of stuff that I want, but I can't get it and the stuff I can get sucks. I think GAIA should focus their efforts on what is easy and marketable, ie Furious gear (cuz I think that’s all they are sponsoring now) and try and make their current gear better. Maybe that means cutting back on product diversity (a very good idea) but come on, take a few lessons from Five Ultimate or VC. Companies that make decent stuff (sort of, those five ultimate fuzzy hats are soo ridiculous) but don't necessarily make everything. Also, the way VC has team bio information, why not carry other team merchandise in a similar fashion? Was anyone at College Nationals this past year? Did you see Hodag nation? My GOD!!! I would love to be able to have jerseys for my favorite teams. They make great gifts and plugging a company and a team is a lot better than just plugging a company.

Now maybe this is nothing but a long wish list or a bunch of requests that are wayy out of the realm of possibility, but I just think that GAIA has 1 HUGE thing going for it. They have a sizeable market (frisbee players) and a decent foot hold on team sponsorship. Why not use it to build your customer base as well as rearranging your efforts to make a few products better?

My thoughts

match diesel

PS This might not be something anyone wants out there, but if anyone is interested in writing something and having it published here, feel free to send me articles ( I know a few folks have asked about it and I figure if anyone has something they want to say but not necessarily want to start a full blown blog or write it on RSD, they can post it here. Please no death threats, I get enough of those at work.


Paul P said...

Another Gaia Gripe: The last time I bought cleats from Gaia via the web they ended up going to some random guy in NC (I'm in DC). Thankfully, the guy sent me an e-mail saying that he received my stuff with his. No big deal, stuff happens. What irritated me was that when I called Gaia to let them know baout the goof, the guy on the phone said "Hey, well if he alreday contacted you could you guys work it out?". Not very professional. The NC guy was cool and shipped the stuff to me, but I think the company could have made an effort...

achew1000 said...

This will end up being a long list of gripes, I imagine. I want to get mine near the top...
Gaia had a box full of stuff that they couldn't get into Australia in time for Worlds because of some custom hangup. It turns out that my size of the heavy jersey/jacket thing I wanted was in there. So, I signed up on an email list to be notified when that box made it back to Canada, so I could order it from them. Of course, I never got an email and when I wrote the company, I was told that I would just have to go to tourneys and look in seconds bins for the stuff and maybe get lucky. Of course, I was living in New Zealand which made that particular strategy a bit difficult.

so, I have no wearable souvenir of my first and last Worlds.

bl said...

" first and last Worlds"

yeah right. I'll believe that when I see it.

Handy said...

I've had positive experiences with Gaia but I think there are as many good stories as there are terrible, so if nothing else I'd ask for some consistency. Otherwise I think Match is right for the most part here.

Gambler said...

It seems to me that right now Patagonia is leading the way in terms of popularity. Their website claims that 50 of the 60 teams at Nationals this year are wearing Patagonia clothing.

Why is Patagonia so popular? One reason is that people love the feel and function of Pata's capilene products. Another reason so many top teams are going with them is that they have a HUGE array of products through their regular website. Basically they sell anything you could need at a tournament (including casual wear). All of it is great quality with an eye towards good product design. The last reason that Patagonia is so popular is that it has amazing customer service with huge stocks, prompt shipping, and great guarantees and return policies.

That is what the likes of VC Ultimate, Gaia, and FiveUltimate are competing with. As a result, it seems to me that all these companies have tried to offer what Patagonia is lacking in its jerseys: variety and customizing. That's why it's a GOOD idea for Gaia to have all those different jersey designs instead of sticking with just one. Because if all a team wants is a basic jersey with a logo on the front, there's no reason for them not to go with Patagonia. But, if a team wants to create a unique look for themselves with multicolored panels, a different cut, or even sublimated designs, then they are more likely to go with Gaia, VC Ultimate, or FiveUltimate.

The rest of Gaia's products (the cleats, wristbands, trucker hats, whiteboards, and bags) that you complained about so much are niche products that serve to help set Gaia appart from Patagonia and other sport apparel companies. They want potential customers to remember that they are catering specifically to ultimate players.

My point is that even if you don't like their products or their customer service, at least Gaia's product decisions make a lot of sense.

Match said...

I think Gwen makes some great points and articulates them very well. I think teams going for uniqness and in turn picking GAIA for jerseys is not a very convincing point. I think logo design/placement/colors seem to be the thing now a days, ie screen printing is the way to make your jerseys look unique.

I think what GAIA emphasize things like their soft plush portions on their jerseys and their inside pocket on their shorts. Those are things that are not found in patagonia products and are geared for ultimate specific activities (wiping off a disc, keeping a rule bok on you, etc..). These are good design elements from GAIA. I also think that if GAIA wants to make side products like head/wrist bands etc... they should do so in a better manner. There is nothing worse than buying a bag or wrist band that sucks just cuz you wanna support an ultimate heavy organization. It will prevent you from buying products and endorsing GAIA in the future

The Cruise said...

I can't imagine ever wanting to wear a jersey of a team I'm not on.

At Sandblast I was wearing a jersey of a defunct team that I never played for and it felt weird. Like I was a liar.

The team that finally knocked us out had some guy on it that was wearing Sockeye and Subzero gear. I told him he looked like an idiot, and then I think he d'd me hard. He probably was on one of those teams, or both at some point in his life, because he was a lot better than me. He still looked dumb though.

My problem with Gaia is that clip on the clipboard is really, really ineffective.

Hh said...

The Cruise:
I wonder if that was our team, as we had a guy from Sockeye, and a guy from Sub Zero, and I suspect they date.

How about all the gift certificates Gaia gives out as prizes to tourney winners, and then trying to redeem them for actual product makes those FREE IPOD CLICK HERE ads seem up front and easy in comparison?

The Cruise said...

it might have been your team. there was a hispanic dude with a halfro and another dude who spent more time admiring his own abs than catching hammers.

highlight of the game for me was i threw two scores to my girlfriend while you covered her in some sort of half assed attempt at zone.

and i have never redeemed any gaia or vc ultimate coupons. i am still eating free burritos from chipotle tickets i won from sandblast though. i ended up with 20 or so.

Michael said...

Free Burritos? Sandblast just doubled the amount of teams going.

freepartymoney said...

thats cuz gaia is a bunch've canadian retards. bunch've wannabe hippies.

Lana said...

I agree with some stuff too, but buy some other teams shirts and stuff? kinda lame, why would you want to? I live in vancouver and they sell furious at their store, I would never buy it thou. Also I'm a big believer of if you have a bitch, let them know, a company can't get better if people don't say anything...

Chef said...

My gripe with gaia (and I'm suprised it hasn't come up before) is how much advertising they put on their own products. Take a 5/VC/Lookfly jersey... it has a small logo on it somewhere that advertises the brand that made it. Now compare to a gaia jersey, which has GAIA stamped all over it on the shoulders and sides. If you didn't know better you might think that a team wearing gaia kit was actually called gaia.