Exclusive or Inclusive. Part one of our Brand Positioning discussion
Posted: Mar 12 2014
Recently, we posted a question on Facebook asking about participation in endurance sports. Specifically, we asked “Why do people who have means and access decide not to take that first step and actually participate?”
We were asking the question in advance of a program we’re working on with a retail partner and the responses fell into a couple of expected categories. Namely, Fear and Lack of Knowledge.
One response was a bit different and it caught us off guard. It said:
“I remember not so long ago you posted something on Facebook about trying to get people involved in triathlon who are not already. I don't remember exactly what the context was, but I want to commend you on realizing something that other triathlon focused companies have not.
If you guys are going to succeed as a company, it’s going to be through new people coming to the sport and becoming customers of yours, not through just converting existing triathletes to your brand. I think that you have done a wonderful job differentiating yourselves from competition by not trying to be an elitist type of company, and really being an all-inclusive company...”
Now from day one, we have believed that success for all companies in the industry will come from growing participation in endurance sports and we are thrilled that this message came across.
The comment that really caught our attention related to “being inclusive.”
Fortunately, we have (as we have mentioned in the past) a wine cooler and a couch in our office that combine to make a perfect venue for reflecting on comments such as this one.
The reason that point is so thought provoking is the fact that “exclusivity” is a very common marketing tactic. And we guess, by and large, it works. Just take a look at all the companies that use the word “exclusive” in their advertising. And there’s probably a reason businesses use models that are 10 feet tall with perfect teeth, perfect hair and flawless (albeit perhaps airbrushed) skin. It’s to make it look like the consumer can somehow join this exclusive club of perfect people by buying the product. I mean, what can be more exclusive than perfection? If buying their product will get me in that club then by all means, sign me up.
But the reality is that no one and no thing is perfect. Certainly not us. Everyone at Coeur has had “oh sh&t” moments,” bad hair” days and even “why did I even get of bed” months. In other words, if to err is human, we are all very incredibly human. So, it would it be disingenuous to position our brand in a way to suggest that the people who wear Coeur are genetic super women who descended from mount Olympus to walk among mortals and cut fruit on their razor sharp six pack abs.
Not because it isn’t tempting to employ those tactics mind you. Clearly at least a few individuals might be intrigued enough to make a purchase if we hinted that any woman who buys one of our sports bras or tri kits, will have a bit of that Greek Goddesses’ness magically bestowed upon her.
Rather, we just didn’t think we could look at ourselves in the mirror if we misrepresented ourselves. As we said, we are quite imperfect.
But, on the other hand, we have some amazing women who work with and are sponsored by us. To use a southern saying, "when God was passing out looks, intelligence and athletic ability, they all went back for second helpings."
These women train incredibly hard and as a consequence, they have developed amazingly athletic and beautiful bodies.
So we’re not for a second going to position ourselves as a company that doesn’t appreciate and celebrate success, accomplishment and the byproducts of very hard work.
So where does that leave us? Do we position our brand to highlight perfection or do we celebrate humanness?
After a big of discussion, the answer was more or less, self-evident.
Stay tuned for part two.