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Sports & Fitness

Winning in DR's Fittest Market

15 Jan, 2010 By: Jacqueline Renfrow Response


Branding to Retail
Pearson believes that branding will only become more important and that down the road, only unique products made by a well-known brand will sustain in the infomercial world. He references a product like the FIRM brand, which has been on the air for almost 20 years. “In a soft economy, having that branded seal of approval helps you get past the threshold and lets the consumer know its something they can trust,” Pearson says.

And while Gaiam looks to the infomercial to build the back end, it also does major displays in retailers. “We’re on television first and typically on the Home Shopping Network, and then go into different tiers of retail and maintain a premium price point,” Pearson adds. He says both DR and retail sales are profitable for Gaiam. And while, in other categories, marketers are willing to lose money to drive DR and push it to retail, Gaiam and other fitness manufacturers need to make money through both channels.

Even though Product Partners doesn’t take its fitness products to retail, it’s still focused on building a brand. And thus far, it’s proven successful. P90X’s fourth infomercial campaign came out at the end of 2009; Slim in 6 is on its fifth version; Hip Hop Abs has been running since 2007; and Turbo Jam is on its third version.

“We create brands, and we like to reap the rewards of the brands we create,” says Congdon. “Beachbody itself is a brand and a trusted destination.”

Harrington says that with how scattered the market is these days, it’s even more important to build a brand. And he believes that television is still a viable way to do this. “You need to build a brand so you’re creating retail potential for that product, or build a brand for a back-end loyalty scenario,” says Harrington.

On the decision of whether or not to take a product to retail, Harrington says it’s one of continuity. If the product can survive on continuity, it may be able to remain strictly a DRTV product.

Aronow says he has definitely seen a growing trend to focus on bringing products to retail. “Years ago, you would just sell in DR and never in retail,” he says. And while there used to be a competition between retail and DR, today it’s understood by most that they are two separate channels.

“While some customers will buy from television and the Web, the predominant market will still buy at brick-and-mortar,” Aronow adds. “The commercial builds brand awareness and drives traffic into retail.”

One of Aronow’s clients is the SKLZ brand, owned by Pro Performance Sports, which was founded in 2002 with a product that was a baseball training aid. The product’s primary channel when it was launched was a DRTV spot, and in the first few years, the company sold about $14 million in Hit-A-Ways. Building off of that success, the company looked to create sports training products, thereby defining a category in retail that has previously been seen as an accessory.

“We defined a category and built a brand around it,” says Greg Shoman, vice president of marketing for Pro Performance Sports. “We continue to sell on DRTV and online as well, but the end goal is to get everything to retail.”

Shoman says the balance for SKLZ shifted early, once they started selling in major retailers such as Walmart, making retail the primary outlet over DR. Today, Pro Performance Sports focuses a lot of its marketing efforts on driving consumers to the Web. It often uses long-form TV to drive traffic online, since demonstrations and visuals are what worked for the company initially.

In 2010, the company will focus more and more on disseminating video, through its own site, YouTube and its blog, Most of the SKLZ videos are first posted on the blog and then are moved to the Web site, as the blog drives traffic there.

What makes marketing sports products unique? Sports are personal, and there is an aspiration component to them, especially for children. With the economy as it is, Shoman knows consumers will have to make a decision about what’s most important to spend their dollars on. He adds, “We believe if you’re going to improve your game, and reach what you aspire to do, you have to have the skills and the ability to do it, rather than a nicer bat or driver.”

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