MacBook Bags - Behind the Designs
Today we are again speaking to MacCase President and Chief Creative Officer Michael Santoro about the company's assortment of MacBook Pro Bags that are part of the company's nylon line.
JKD - Looking back over the last 20 years, what do you feel is the current state of MacCase's MacBook bags relative to past models?
MS - Wow, Jody thanks for jumping right in with a tough question. I appreciate that, (laughing). I think the current state of our MacBook Pro bags is strong, (laughing again).
Seriously, given how much the market has changed over the last 20 years, how steep the competition has gotten and the fact that we are still here, we must be doing something right. Do we offer the breathe of styles in MacBook Pro bags we did 10 or 15 years ago? No, not in the nylon line we don't. But in our leather line we've surpassed what we used to do.
For our nylon line, we've taken all these years of experience making the best MacBook pro bags, sleeves and backpacks and distilled all that knowledge down into a series of form factors we know works for our customers.
I love when customers like internationally famous, music producer Joesph Watt writes to tell me how much he loves our current generation nylon backpack. He shared how he takes it all over the world and it becomes the thing he can't live without. Or a pro photographer or animator let's us know how our current nylon messenger bag gets them through their day.
To me, at this point, it's more important to have a few excellently designed pieces in the nylon line that work for real creative, professional people in the real world than to have 20 assorted MacBook Pro bag designs that are just filling space on shelves.
The Foundation of a MacBook Bag
JKD - That's an interesting way of describing they current line. Can you speak to that a bit more?
MS - It's not really my style to have endless solutions to what is essentially the same problem. In this case, how to protect and transport Apple MacBook Pro laptops. We did that with the nylon line for over decade. And for that time, it worked. It worked brilliantly.
Apple's laptop offerings are closer in size than to each other than at almost any time in Apple portable history. This helps our current strategy for our nylon MacBook bags a lot. After all this time, we know our customers, know what their needs are, know the environments they are moving through and know what appeals to them regarding functionality.
The MacCase nylon line is about delivering an amazing value. This is why we have so many hardcore, professional travelers, artists, designers, producers who love our stuff. They can afford any bag they want but they buy a $60 MacCase MacBook bag that has the features of the $100 or $120 bag they've been shopping. They get it.
These MacBook bags were designed and engineered to compete with bags twice their price. That was the design brief for all of them. We have to offer a "value added" design.
Value Added MacBook Pro Bags
JKD: Explain that. What's "value added" design to you?
MS: All the choices we make at the design level, combined with the quality we build in, the durability, all these things add up to an experience for the customer that is well beyond the $60 or $70 they paid. That's value added for us.
From the materials we use to how we use them, from the feature sets to how comfortable each piece is to wear all day, these relatively inexpensive MacBook bags deliver a performance that is far above their price point. The customers is getting more than they thought. Their experience exceeds their expectations.
The MacCase MacBook bags deliver this experience. The people who buy one and use one see this value. It's much harder to sell products this way, but you tend to build long term customers because they know they can count on you and not have to chase a "discount" price.
JKD: What do you mean by "chasing discount"?
People who chase discounts have to ask themselves, is this 80% off price a set up? Has this bag been designed with materials and a quality target of a $19.95 retail bag marked up to $100 so someone can they sell it for 80% off?
This happens all the time. People are being trained to respond to this type of sales pitch never realizing the product was designed to the $19.95 price point from the beginning. They're being duped.
MacCase is at the other end of the spectrum. It's a million times harder to convince someone to pay $60 for a MacBook Pro bag that can compete with a $100 bag than is it to build a $20 bag, mark it up to $100 and sell it for 80% off.
Goals for Our MacBook Bags
JKD - So what were the goals for these MacBook Pro bags?
MS - We are trying to solve a broad range of problems with a very select group of form factors. We don't need dozens of models to achieve this. We spent a lot of time on the new Universal designs. We made them the best we could because we knew they would be the foundation of our nylon line.
It's the same philosophy a car company uses to build their cars more efficiently. They might have 2 basic chassis they use to build every car the company makes. They use chassis 1 for their small and medium size cars, trucks and SUVs and chassis 2 for their large cars, trucks and SUVs. The key is to make sure both your foundations, both your chassis are world class. That is what we did with the foundations of our MacBook bags.
Then we tweaked them and added some things to it to make them Apple specific and an even better value. We didn't need to reinvent the wheel. The base bags we had to work off of were excellent so that's what we did.
JKD - How do the current generation of MacBook bags fit?
MS - Unlike a lot of the bag companies out there, MacCase doesn't just put a backpack or messenger bag out there and hope for the best regarding fit and protection. If it's an Apple specific sleeve, bag or case we try to make sure the fit is perfect. That's one of the reasons we've been around for 20 years.
When we approached these MacBook bags we had an opportunity to do something innovative in the tradition of the MacCase designs of the last 20 years. It's really great to have 20 years of experience to lean on when you're trying to solve these kinds of design problems with just 2 basic form factors.
Our latest MacBook Pro Messenger Bags and Backpacks are the most innovative, lightweight, most durable and most protective we have ever made. Moreover, they represent an excellent all around value, getting you the best MacBook bag, feature for feature, for the money.
Protecting Your MacBook for Over 20 Years
JKD - It sound like you spend a lot of time thinking about these types of things, making your products better, improving the user experience and value to you customer...
MS - I hope so ( laughing). That's sort of my job. I wear a lot of hats. I like to. But there is none more important than the one that says "designer". I've been doing this a long time now. So many bag companies have come and gone since the first MacCase was created which seems like a 100 years ago now.
I'd like to think if we went away that our customers would miss us. We try to do the best work we can. put the best product out there we can. It's not about widgets and nickels and dimes for us. We care. We do the best we can with what we have. We don't always get it right. No one does. Show me a band whose every album is great.
I when I was in this entrepreneur training program called "Fast Track" we were told the most important thing you can have is a "sustainable competitive advantage". At MacCase we have that, it's called my brain, (laughing). Again, we're still here after 20 years so I guess it's been sustainable.
I just saw on ebags that they were promoting a certain backpack saying it was their #1 laptop backpack. There was absolutely nothing new or innovative or interesting about it. Not a single thing. It was the backpack version of a beige Toyota Camry. We'll, maybe a 1995 Toyota Camry as the new one is pretty bonkers.
It looked like you were going camping. It had great distribution and good brand equity so people can see it and find it and and know the brand so they buy it. But there is a number of people who'll look at that pack and think, I want something better. I don't want to look like I'm going camping. I don't want to look like everybody else and I for sure don't want something that exceeds so brilliantly at being so utterly uninteresting.
That person will find MacCase, find one of our MacBook bags say, yeah, that's what I want. That works. That's me. And I know this because I talk to one of those people at least once a day.
JKD - If someone was to ask you, "Who makes the best MacBook bags and why" how to you answer them?
MS - The best MacBook bag is made by the company that invented the Apple-specific case market over 20 years ago, MacCase. We have the design experience, passion and commitment that resonates within each of our designs. MacCase products deliver on the promise of protection, comfort, style and function and we do it in a long term way. MacCase has been successful at this mission longer than anyone else in the space. That's your answer.