We’re trying something new here at OBJ. Every month, we’re picking one company that has impressed us with its recent business savvy—whether through a new product release, a canny marketing move, a grabby social-media post, or something else entirely that we didn’t see coming. The goal: to celebrate the forward thinkers, outside-the-box strategists, and generally awesome professionals moving the industry forward.
So, without further ado, this month’s pick.
Winner: Solo Stove
Solo Stove is on a mission to bring fire to the masses—and not just to those who have access to huge outdoor spaces. The brand’s new Mesa tabletop fire pit (pictured above) is targeted at customers with limited space, such as those who live in apartments. It’s also nice for some quick and clean ambiance without the hassle of hauling out a full-size pit. Why do we think this is such a great business move? Simple: the outdoor customer base is expanding fast, and brands of all sizes are looking for ways not just to capture existing markets, but to create new ones. This new offering does just that.
Small and colorful thanks to its five different ceramic shells, the Mesa burns wood, wood pellets, and alcohol fuel. Not everybody wants to drop $400 or more on a heavy fire pit, and we’re down with any product that introduces outdoor brands to a wider audience.
You can get it for $119.
Runner Up: REI/Airstream
REI’s partnership with Airstream follows the path Tesla so successfully trod with its ultra-premium rethinking of the electric passenger vehicle: entering a growing market segment at the highest possible price point, rather than going the budget route. Sure, REI could potentially have started manufacturing trailers to undercut a company like Airstream on price, but it likely would have hurt the co-op’s brand.
Instead, starting at $52,900, Airstream’s special-edition Basecamp REI model is not an impulse buy by any means, which is exactly the point. REI seems to be targeting those younger customers who once upon a time trawled the co-op’s Garage Sales for used gear, but have since moved to a higher income bracket and brought with them their brand loyalty.
Super sleek and touting recycled interior materials, the Basecamp can be towed by lots of vehicles, not just trucks, which fits perfectly with the target market. In our estimation, this is a product aimed at REI customers first and foremost. Smaller vehicles and crossovers are therefore shrewdly accommodated. Airstream, for its part, is no doubt looking at the collab as a gateway drug for REI customers who might require the comfort of a familiar brand to help them start exploring more of the trailer company’s iconic products, which have helped defined the American road trip—or at least the aesthetic of it—since 1931.