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Brand Recognition: Who is Doing it Well?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
This year when I opened up the buyers guides, a few things struck me. One of these was that I saw a lot of familiar skis and names among the ski companies, as well as a lot of very unfamiliar model names. In the past we have seen companies hit home runs in terms of brand recongition by the introduction of skis like the G30/G31, XScream, 1080, Bandit, Legend, Axis, AC'#', and the list goes on. As ski companies are building larger, more diverse product lines - it is becoming hard to hear a ski model name and immediately associate it with particular performance or characteristics. I follow gear, and the number of new names, or name changes that pop up from year to year is pretty startling. Interestingly, it is the skis with the high levels of recognition with the consumer that are selling the best (Volkl AC Series, K2 Apache Series, Head IM/monster Series).

If you think into it, usually the skis that do the best are ones that hold a name that is the same or at least similar for several seasons. After the name is done away with we usually see some part of the name carried forward in order to make the association to the past [usually successful] ski models. For example - look what Rossignol did with the Bandit Series - something simple but effective - they kept the series name, but labeled the skis 'B' followed by a number... Dynastar did a great job introducing the Legend Series - but IMO failed at introducing the contact series - sadly after the OmeCarve series had done so well... and what ever happened to the coveted SkiCross 10? The name still exists within the Dynatar line-up but the full series of SkiCross skis is gone.

So I put together some thoughts on who is going well and who is doing not so well.

Large Companies (well):
Volkl
K2
Atomic
Fischer
Head

Large Companies (poor):
Salomon (TERRIBLE, what is an X-Wing anyway? I want Xscreams - or at least something that makes me think about them and their success!)
Dynastar (aside from the Legend series, they fell off in a big way, OmeCarve? Race Skis?)
Rossignol (Other than the B Series - name another Rossignol ski that is not a 9S or a 9X... few people can do it... maybe it's a French company thing...)

Small Companies (well):

Blizzard (Blizzard is finally being recognized for building great skis - well overdue)
Elan (borderline small, but have a unified image - assuming that Speedwave series takes off like the S series did)
Nordica (The Hot Rod and SuperCharger lines should build some good equity for Nordica - possibly bringing them into the top 5 or 6 ski companies world-wide...)

Small Companies (poor):
Stockli (Not sure why, but every year recently, these skis do not seem to stand out of the crowd like they used to. Stockli should find a way to prove that they are still the best in the business - especially considering the fat ski craze - which Stockli has been involved in for years - The Stormrider series needs to be thrown into the mix against skis like the IM88 and AC4 to prove that Stockli still has what it takes, because they certainly do)

Those are just really my opinions on companies that have built very good brand recognition around their various product lines. Some skis like the Atomic IZOR are overshadowed by skis like the Metron from the same company, but overall I feel those companies are doing well to balance the focus on their ENTIRE line of skis and not just one product line like Dynastar does with the Legend series. By all means doing one thing very well is better than doing a lot of things mediocre... but it would be nice to see companies like Salomon give us some skis that we as the consumer can recognize as a ski (possibly building off the Hot or Scream names... since they did away with the Scrambler already) and not a flying/fighting spaceship from Star Wars... It makes me wonder wht some of these companies are thinking when they change the names of successful ski product lines just in the name of putting out something new... In most cases the 'new' things are not half as successful as their predecessors.

Later

GREG
post #2 of 16
I think the Stormrider has fairly good brand recognition considering how poor Stockli's US distrobution is. If you were to have Stockli distrobution in the same amount of shops, it would have much better recognition than any of the Volkl or Fisher all-mountain fats.

On the other hand, I think you give head too much credit. While the naming system might be intuitive to us (im88? 88mm waist!), it appears as a jumble of letters and numbers to the average consumer. The chance that a consumer is going to like an IM82 in one shop and then walk out of the shop a month later with an IM72 is much increased. Same thing goes for the 1200- once you throw "XRC" "1200" and "i" into the name, the average consumer is never going to remember the model name. They've taken a good step with the Thang series, but they've got a long way to go.

I think K2 is at the top of the game right now- EVERYONE who comes into the shop knows about Seths, Recons, and the Luvs. As far as pure name marketability goes, its the best. Not necessarily the most useful (that honor goes to head Monster series and Mojo series), but noones going to mistake a public enemy for a seth vicious or an apace recon for an apache stryker.
post #3 of 16
Fischer seems to have made great strides in marketing over the last several seasons but this year dropped off the radar screen in SKI and Skiing, at least. So did a number of other manufacturers.

In SKI the brands that advertised in the gear issue were Rossi, Salomon, Voelkl, K2, Nordica and Atomic. I didn't see Fischer, Blizzard, Dynastar, Elan, Head or Stockli, at all. Admittedly, Stockli has always been pretty much a 'word of mouth' brand ski. But they could frequently be seen in 1/4 page ads.

In Skiing, the exact same advertisers and no shows.

Maybe they will turn up later or are putting their $'s in Powder and Freeskier.
post #4 of 16
Another thing to consider: target skier. It seems to me that there are a set of ski manufacturers that are targeting the top-end skiers. I learned today that Stockli has a new VP Marketing in the US, and he could make a really significant difference over the next few years. Similarly, Scott has spent the past few years perfecting their skis before introducing them here. Head got a lot of cult following over the past few years that will help them.

K2, however, is on the other end of the spectrum, even though they are a marketing powerhouse.

I am excited to see that Volkl has gone back to their high-performance heritage. It'll make a very nice contrast to K2's...
post #5 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier View Post
Large Companies (well):
Head
I agree with Takecontrol. Head's naming system flat out sucks, along with several other companies. XRC and some random number? It doesn't exactly roll off the tongue. But K2 has their Apache series. Rossi has their Bandit series. Atomic has the Daddy series. Something memorable translates to sales.

Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier View Post
Large Companies (poor):
Salomon (TERRIBLE, what is an X-Wing anyway?
An X-Wing is that thing that Luke Skywalker was flying when he blew up the Death Star back in 1977.
post #6 of 16
Thread Starter 
Regarding Head: Lets not confuse consumer brand recognition with marketing plan and intelligence in how the skis are named. I agree that Head has a poor naming system; but the fact is that consumers know their skis AND see them as high performance skis. Look at how much discussion skis like the IM:82, IM:88, i.SuperShape, i.XRC 1100 SW, and i.XRC 1200 SW have all gotten on this forum alone. Consumers recognize the brand as being high performance as a result of their successful high end skis that most skiers know the names of... even though those names are easily confused among the models.
Later
GREG
post #7 of 16
What happened to VIST? They got great reviews......
post #8 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeluvaSkier View Post
... even though those names are easily confused among the models.
I'm going to have to buck the trend here and say that I find Head skis to be named fairly well. They have 5 basic lines, Mojo, XRC, Monster, i.Race, and X Thang. It's pretty easy to pick a shape or purpose from the brand line and then go up the numbers until you get to the one thats right for you. Thats my opinion anyway, but it works well for the Dynastar Legend series too. The Thang models get kind of confusing because its hard to remember which one is for what purpose, at least to me.

I think Elan has done a fantastic job at making skis which are varied, attractive, and instantly recognizable as Elan. Some of the best looking skis on the market without all seeming like exact copy cats. Most the other ski lines all look the same just with a different set of colors.
post #9 of 16
Example: Head i.C200 from few seasons ago and current Head C200. Similar names, but huge difference in quality.
post #10 of 16
I will tell you who is NOT doin it well....Volant. They are trying to be a boutique ski by selling less than 200/pr a year at just a new select (like 6 or so in the U.S.) at $1500.00. It is going to be hard when Sports Authority is still selling left over Volants for $79.00/pr.
post #11 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by stekan View Post
Example: Head i.C200 from few seasons ago and current Head C200. Similar names, but huge difference in quality.
Touche'. In that case it really isn't all the consistent from year to year. That's the price you pay for progress.
post #12 of 16
Quote:
Originally Posted by Phil Pugliese View Post
I will tell you who is NOT doin it well....Volant. They are trying to be a boutique ski by selling less than 200/pr a year at just a new select (like 6 or so in the U.S.) at $1500.00. It is going to be hard when Sports Authority is still selling left over Volants for $79.00/pr.
It's really a pity as to what's happened to this brand which was once an innovative American ski company. If only they could have run a business as well as they designed skis.
Volantaddict -- Do you have any thoughts?
post #13 of 16
By me:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Lostboy View Post
Fischer seems to have made great strides in marketing over the last several seasons but this year dropped off the radar screen in SKI and Skiing, at least. So did a number of other manufacturers.

In SKI the brands that advertised in the gear issue were Rossi, Salomon, Voelkl, K2, Nordica and Atomic. I didn't see Fischer, Blizzard, Dynastar, Elan, Head or Stockli, at all. Admittedly, Stockli has always been pretty much a 'word of mouth' brand ski. But they could frequently be seen in 1/4 page ads.

In Skiing, the exact same advertisers and no shows.

Maybe they will turn up later or are putting their $'s in Powder and Freeskier.
I sort of missed the point of Heluvaskier's first post which really addresses brand lines and models rather than media advertising presence. Sorry.
K2, IMHO, does it best. Elan and Nordica are very close.
post #14 of 16
K2 seems to do the best advertising and exploitation of the skiers they sponsor. Other companies should let the skiers help them name their skis.

The Head im series sounds like the engineers named the ski because they're proud of the innovation and didn't really ask any skiers to be involved in it's naming.

The x-wing sounds like something the ladies in my house use once a month...
post #15 of 16
I agree about the X-wing series, not good. I think they could have used one of the model names, "Fury" as the series name.
post #16 of 16
Both Dynastar and Salomon were very uccessful with branding themselves with the had a good thing going with Skicross 10 and Crossmax skis, but the skicross concept has lost steam.

Rossignol has it right a few years back with the Bandit, Cobra and Viper skis. There is no emotion attached to a Zenith Z9 or even worse Mutex.
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