Friday, March 11, 2016

Do we need another ski brand?

Yesterday, I tested XO, a small, new brand of ski and met its charismatic creator. The products skis very well, feels light, yet is quite stable, its graphics look “clean” and when you take time to examine it, there's nothing odd that jumps up.

All this to say that, unless you can detect the subtle skiability advantage, it's extremely challenging to pinpoint to a distinctive advantage over other models and brands. Ski-testing is also muddled with a host of variables, like ski base preparation, snow and weather conditions, tester's experience and snow-feel sense to name just a few.

Then, in order to go over these hurdles, a ski marketer must focus on a clear positioning and find a definition or slogan for the product that will firmly anchor it into a user's mental hierarchy. If the main quality is ease of skiing, lightness, stability or a combination of all, a short, snappy and sexy slogan has to be found. In parallel, a “best and highest use” has to be found for the product.

In this particular example, it could be “the ideal ski for women” or “perfect boards for tree skiing”. Of course, slogan and targetting can be fused into an all-encompassing positioning statement. This said, the selected positioning is what will determine the product appearance, performance and breadth of line, not the other way around.

These are reference points that are hard to grasp, often time-consuming and not always happening in the right sequential order, which explain why certain products that get it all right the first time are more successful (or lucky) than others...

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