At Tortuga, the V3 project was all about getting more specific. Going more niche.
The Outbreaker backpack isn't just a new product, it's the next iteration of Tortuga as a company. For the launch, we redesigned our product line and website. Both are just the beginning.
The new site is meant to be a platform for our V3 strategy. The Outbreaker backpack appears to be an updated version of the Tortuga Backpack (aka V2) but is just the first step of a larger strategy.
The V2 Strategy
Together, the V2 line was a solid collection of products that worked well together.
While re-reading The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, I've been thinking about the laws in the context of our previous and current strategies.
The Law of the Category: If you can't be first in a category, set up a new category you can be first in.
Our goal with the company and the first product was to create the "travel backpack" category. Mission accomplished.
The V3 Strategy
The one-word version of our V3 strategy is collections. Rather than one line of products under the Tortuga brand, we will build multiple collections, with their own names under the Tortuga banner. The Outbreaker collection is first.
In the V2 line, the Tortuga and the Air had different strengths and appealed to two different types of travelers. Few people bought both backpacks.
In V3, we will create separate collections for those two travelers.
How will we set up collections in V3?
A collection should be a cohesive line of products that work well together and could be bought as a bundle. If two products wouldn't make sense together, they shouldn't be in the same collection. The (small) exception is offering one product in multiple sizes.
Each collection should be designed for one type of trip or traveler. Each collection should have its own category per The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (above). This strategy will allow us to grow into multiple new categories with a differentiated product line and brand for each one. Thus, we can expand without diluting Tortuga's brand positioning.
Lastly, we want to make every product better for the person for whom it is designed.
The Outbreaker backpack is better than the Tortuga Backpack for pro travelers. To increase the Tortuga's size, organization, and comfort, we had to make tradeoffs. Under V2, those tradeoffs would have been very limiting. Under V3, not so much.
Now, we can let the Outbreaker backpack be great for its target market and build a separate product line to be strong where the Outbreaker backpack is weak. For example, a commonly cited complaint about the Outbreaker is that it's heavy relative to its size and competition. The extra weight is a result of the increased organization (fabric, zippers) and comfort (thicker padding, more complex suspension system). We're okay with this tradeoff. Travelers who value size, organization, and comfort will love the backpack because its strengths match what they value.
For travelers who value weight over those attributes, we can build another, dedicated collection that is as lightweight as possible. We can now maximize a different set of attributes per collection rather than trying to force a single collection into a middle-ground that's okay for many people but great for no one.
The first two collections under the V3 strategy will be in deliberate contrast to each other. We're doing this to highlight the differences, to clarify the collection-based strategy, and to minimize cannibalization of the first collection.
Each of the first two collections should be great for its intended traveler. While counter intuitive, becoming more specialized will actually help us grow in the long run.
Like Kevin Kelly's 1,000 True Fans thesis, we want to build niche collections that a small group of people feels fanatical about rather than an overarching collection that a large group of people feels ambivalent about.
I hope this post starts to clarify our strategy. When the Outbreaker backpack launched, we heard from people who loved the update and people who were confused by it. Many understood the advantages but were upset by the tradeoffs. For example, they wanted a lightweight bag.
"Wait. You'll see. It will all make sense in time."
That isn't a satisfying answer. For now, I've written this post. In a few months, we will release the second, differentiated collection to better clarify our direction.
Until then, hold tight.