Part II of our Brand Positioning Discussion
Posted: Apr 16 2014
Coeur makes women's cycling & triathlon clothing but we about more than gear
So a couple weeks ago, we posted Part One of our brand positioning debate. We were having a wine fueled conversation about “who we are and what we stand for as a company.” We’d like to expand on that here in, Part II.
Before we get started, we have to say that the delay in posting Part II was due to feedback from Part I. As a result of a comment we received about our triathlon tops and shorts, we actually changed our sizing. Going forward, everything will be sized down one size. In other words, the old Medium is now a size Small. The Small is now an Extra-Small.
We know that many companies have ridden to (at least temporary) success by touting exclusivity. Their products were only for a select few individuals and they went out of their way to explain who was allowed inside their circle and who was most definitely outside. They dangled a carrot that tried to make you think “if I only buy this product, I’ll be in that circle.”
Coeur athlete Katie Hursey may go to the Olympics. Does she represent our target market?
Too often, they tried to portray the people outside the circle as flawed individuals that weren’t fast enough, talented enough or cool enough to wear, own or use their products. Sadly (at least in our opinion) those types of campaigns were frequently successful. As we explained in our first post, it is very tempting to buy a product if there is a subliminal suggestion that by buying it, you are granted access to the “Enough Club”.
It is prudent for companies to go through brand positioning and customer segmentation exercises. You just can’t be all things to all people and when you identify your target customers, some people naturally fall out as “not target” customers. They are, to an extent, excluded from your marketing. For example, as a women’s specific company, we obviously don’t target..how shall we say it..."tripods". If you know what we mean.
And as far as potential women customers go, it may seem our high-performance gear targets only the dialed in, genetically gifted female athlete that is vying for a podium bowl at Kona. And we do cater to these ladies, sort of. But, we also do cater to the brave gal that dares to put her face in a murky lake, terrified, to do her first sprint triathlon. And to the woman who decides to take her first step toward health and fitness by signing up for her local 5K.
We’ll go off on a tangent for a second but It’s funny, even the incredibly hard-working, genetically gifted and, by our standards, gorgeous ladies on our team and our staff are, by Madison Avenue standards, outside the circle. Ridiculous. The top girls on our team have athletic physiques that sculpted from pure, hard earned muscle. So they might not fit the Madison Ave. standard of beauty, but we think their bodies are amazingly machines and frankly, stunningly beautiful.
So, we knew that as we identified the attributes of our target customer, we weren’t going to say that Coeur was designed for women who aren’t beautifully athletic. That would be tough to explain since Co-Founder Hailey Manning battle tested one of the early prototype tri kits on the lava fields of Kona during the 2013 Ironman Hawaii where she went sub-ten hours! Or when our sponsored pros consistently win or make it to the podium. Clearly, we think we’ve designed high-performance gear and we want customers that appreciate that fact. (Forewarning, shameless marketing plug coming but…did you know our tri shorts don’t have seams…”down there”? Helps eliminate chafing.)
Ok, back to the topic at hand. So we’re not going to say that if you can’t go sub-ten in an Ironman, you need not apply. And, on the other hand, we’re not going to say we are the brand for people who don’t care about performance.
Coeur Co-Founder Hailey Manning goes sub-ten in Kona
So, in the immortal words of Jim Morrison (or Bo Diddley if you want to go further back), “Who do you love?” After all that, here’s who and what we love:
First, while we’ll celebrate wins and podiums all day long, they are not at all what we’re about. Rather, we love people who “try.” People that try hard, to be specific. Try really, really hard, to be even more specific. We’re talking about the fall nine times, get up ten type of trying. To us, results are the by-product of trying. A beautiful body may be a byproduct of hard work. We think both (results and beauty) are well and good, but they are by no means the point. Rather, we are absolutely in love with the people who set a goal and kick and fight and scream and push and work to move toward that goal. For some, like our sponsored athlete – Katie Hursey, that goal may be the Olympics. For others, it may be running a 5K. For one that we know and love, it is beating breast cancer. Doesn’t matter. Just set a goal and try. Hard! If you’re the type that will fight the good fight and run the good race (metaphorically speaking), then you’re for us.
If, however, you happen to be the person who “was born on third base and thought you hit a triple”, then, well…, ok…we’ll just stop there.
Second, we love people who understand the human condition, so to speak. They realize that sometimes, despite our desires and best efforts, cellulite, wrinkles and lost toenails just happen. While we hope our gear is attractive and flattering, we’re not holding imperfection against anyone. Genetic gifts are just that...genetically GIFTED. As they say, people in glass houses…
Finally, we love people who want to make others around them better and bring them into the amazing world of endurance sports. You may know people who try to elevate themselves by putting others down. Well, they are most definitely NOT in our target demographic. Rather, we’d prefer to see more people who go out of their way to explain that, while their exploits (be they a Marathon, an Ironman, a Century Ride or an open water swim) may seem impossible, they’re not. Rather, they are the result of many small steps put together. And everyone can try to take a small step.
This last point may sound like it is no big deal but we think it takes a lot of maturity to voluntarily take yourself off of a pedestal. “Sure, I just did a (insert epic event here) but that doesn’t make me better than everyone else and it certainly doesn’t suggest that endurance sports are only for the select/gifted few.”
So, there you have it. This may be introspective navel-gazing that is more important to us than anyone else but those are the people we want in our community. We hope and think we can make the company a success by catering to these individuals. We’re not 100% sure but we’re going to give it one hell of a try!
So, take that first step! Set a goal. Go for a run, a ride or a swim. And if one day, you actually finish ahead of any of us, we’ll be cheering the loudest.