Whose names come to mind when you think about scuba gear? We profile three industry heavyweights.

gear06gear02Scubapro, Mares, Beuchat – it doesn’t matter if you’re a new diver or seasoned pro, there’s no doubt you’re familiar with such names. These three scuba brands have certainly come a long way and are steeped in history, but how much do you really know about the makers behind your favourite fins and wetsuits? Covering everything from iconic equipment to R&D processes, we chat with these brand representatives about the past, present, and future.

WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES THE BRAND FACES? 
Our challenge is to keep up with scuba divers’ ever-changing needs. The dive world evolves very fast. I remember the period of time where we had to find a way to make our equipment as light as possible due to airline weight restrictions (which weren’t that strict in the past!). That was tough but we managed to do it anyway. 

TELL US ABOUT BEUCHAT’S MOST ICONIC PIECE OF EQUIPMENT.
Beuchat invented the isothermic wetsuit in 1953, so that’s what we’re known for. Our brand sets the benchmark for wetsuits and our most iconic item is the Focea Comfort. When we developed it our objective was simple: create a beautifully designed, highly stretchable wetsuit that would provide the right fit and keep divers warm—in other words, the best wetsuit ever.gear01

WHAT’S THE BRAND’S R&D PROCESS LIKE?
It begins with market research (in order to get consumers’ point of view, we rely on surveys, networking, feedback from dive schools and centres) and writing specifications synthesising the market’s needs and consumers’ expectations. Then, we take all that information and transcribe it into technical specifications to provide solutions for divers. Thus begins the development phase, during which Beuchat engineers rely on 3D scanning tools to draw the different parts of the product. The prototypes of these products are then given a test run in our hyperbaric chamber and in the sea until we’re completely satisfied with them. Results of these underwater tests are then integrated to produce the final technical specifications and the production phase begins. gear04

WHAT’S NEXT FOR BEUCHAT?
We’re currently working on developing suits that have a variety of uses for people like swimmers and triathletes.

 

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gear07WHAT ARE SOME CHALLENGES THE BRAND FACES? gear09
One of the challenges facing Mares, or more specifically, our Asia Pacific region, is the distance to our manufacturing bases, the extended shipping times, and certainly the relatively high cost of operation. Asia Pacific is a very diverse market, both geographically and demographically. The diversity in diving across this region means it is necessary to carry a vast range of products, with corresponding sizes, colours, components and spare parts. This requires far more precise planning than our European and American markets.

TELL US ABOUT MARES’ MOST ICONIC PIECE OF EQUIPMENT.
The X-Stream fin has been a major Mares development in diving fin innovation. Performance, comfort, and lightweight design are the incredible result of 60 passionate years at the service of diving and more than two years of finding the right resources, experimenting and testing. Three individual technologies are responsible for the revolutionary design – a new foot pocket, a new Optimised Pivoting Blade (OPB) function, and significantly reduced weight. These outstanding features are reflected in the unique aesthetic appearance and dynamic finning action.gear08

IS THE BRAND DOING ANYTHING TO BECOME ECO-FRIENDLY? CRAFTING PRODUCTS THAT ARE SUSTAINABLE? HOW ABOUT CORPORATE SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY EFFORTS? 
We have a strong passion for preserving our natural world and we are very mindful of the impact that excessive packaging has on the earth. As such, many products in our range come in packaging which is useful beyond the initial purchase date. This involves using quality casing for our masks, protective cases for our computers and handy carry bags for our snorkelling products. When we’re unable to use this sort of re-usable packing, we utilise recyclable components wherever possible. Mares have also partnered with Cool Earth, an organisation that works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction.gear10

WHAT STEPS IS THE BRAND TAKING FOR MARKETING AND BRANDING IN ASIA PACIFIC SPECIFICALLY?
Mares will continue to partner with our current media network to create a strong market position for the brand. As far as social media presence is concerned, we have already established strong connections with our fans through Facebook, Instagram and YouTube, and we will continue to build this into the future. We will soon be spearheading a new advantage campaign through our Mares – Just Add Water Facebook page, so we ask that everyone keep their eyes peeled for great competitions, product releases and all the latest news.
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gear15AS A BRAND, WHAT ARE SOME OF THE THINGS YOU TAKE INTO CONSIDERATION BEFORE DECIDING TO DISTRIBUTE IN A PARTICULAR COUNTRY WITH A PARTICULAR COMPANY?
Professionalism and providing the best equipment, gear, and service in the market to all divers – these are factors we think about about when appointing our distributors across the region. Also, different countries have their own requirements (some countries have huge retail markets to cater to, while some are more focused on dive centres; different products are sold in different markets; there are also various import requirements), and we work with our distribution partners to grow their businesses along the way, so all these things play a part as well.

IS THE BRAND DOING ANYTHING TO BECOME ECO-FRIENDLY?
Absolutely. With Scubapro Cares – a programme that ensures environmental and social sustainability throughout our product development cycle – we’ve been supporting environmental and social efforts for over 50 years. More recently, we’ve moved towards reusable packaging and have introduced solvent free glue to our products this year. There’s more to come because this is one of the areas we’re paying special attention to right now.

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gear14gear16WHAT STEPS IS THE BRAND TAKING FOR MARKETING AND BRANDING IN ASIA PACIFIC SPECIFICALLY?
Social media has been a strong focus for Scubapro over the last few years. We’re very active when it comes to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube. We have ambassadors like Julie Andersen (our Global Diving Marketing Director), who are often featured in our editorial shots.

WHAT’S NEXT FOR SCUBAPRO?
We’re working on developing exciting new products that focus on biometrics and wearable technology. This new approach to product development is called Human Factor Diving, and it’s all about self-tracking products divers can take underwater – think features like heart rate (and skin temperature) monitors and adaptive algorithms that include your respiration and breathing rate as an indicator of your workload, then adjust the decompression plan accordingly.

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