New Balance Q&A with Michael Clarke – (Toni)

Is there anything that New Balance wouldn’t do in a campaign apart
from celebrity endorsement?

  • No TV
  • Always want an online presence – i.e. get blog coverage as well
  • Important to have a PR side – event, product placement = a strong money future

Any specific elements in the campaign or should it be general?

  • A General New Balance campaign –  spreading their message
  • Direct at our consumers and market or opinion formers circle

Should we concentrate on just the UK?

  • Yes, just concentrate on the UK – as you know the channels etc

What is the problem in the UK as to why NB has not caught on compared to other countries’?

  • Brand awareness is not as big in the UK

Are there any competitors’ campaigns which you think are really good?

  • Red Wing Shoe’s campaign which I saw in B&B was really good, did something similar to what we did years ago.
  • We want to make the campaign truly ours and personal with no celebs the workers and people are important.

What do you want us to promote?

  • Once you know your consumer, market New Balance as a brand and a collection
  • Using examples is always useful.

Where do you see New Balance in the future?

  • The classic side shoe however; it will not change as much as it will just vary in terms of fabric and colours in relation to trends.

What does the UK market mean to you?

  • London is actually quite new balance trendy but there is a larger group of designers in a big creative industry. The UK is very mainstream it is not so unique.
  • Shop in Liverpool called Microzine – gave you an experience when you shopped
  • Hanon is a big player for us in UK
  • Bikes are really in at the moment so we are thinking along those lines as well

Any problems when working with a retailer?

  • Retailers choose which stores they decide to place your product  in

Is there any possibility of a New Balance store opening in the UK?

  • Yes possibly in 2012 launching a London store – as we can relate it to the Olympics– being the famous running trainer.
  • (Not many brands have their own stores they use retailer)

There was a slump in New Balance in the 90s why??

In the mid 90s it was discovered that Nike had been using sweat shops and so many people in US – campaigned against it and swayed towards New Balance as they were similar but used good makers. It ended up with a huge increase in sales in US which was amazing for them but meant that they forgot about their UK customers a bit as they left the market scene slightly.

How did you get back your UK Customers?

  • Went back to basics and had to rebuild that relationship again, sometimes on an individual bases

Any interesting information?

  • Salt box has just dropped Nike – they are the biggest retailers in Berlin. They didn’t like how there was not much of a relationship, different people they saw every month. They didn’t feel they were treated right.

Thoughts about having a vintage range?

Already sort of doing that – as the style of shoe doesn’t change but you can still get the original colours of how they looked when they were first produced.

You said Manchester was big – why specifically?

  • It is close to the Lake District so knows Flimby more
  • It is the 2nd fashion city
  • It is big on the music scene and has older fashion compared to London which is still new fashion
  • It also holds a lot more individual and independent retailers.

In Berlin there was a shoe which had a name written on it called Badley who is a new athlete – I thought you didn’t do endorsement?

  • It is not endorsement – Badley is a runner and we pay him for his travel and charity things he attends as he wears our shoes to run in but we don’t pay for him to say they are good or pay him to wear them.

Main competitor in the UK?

  • Trainer and sneaker brands
    o   Onitsuka Tiger
    o   Asiacs
    o   Nike
    o   Addidas
    o   Reebok
  • They are all performance competitors
  • As well as retail competitors
    o   Converse
    o   Vans
    o   Toms
  • But the sports trainers/ performance brands are our main competitors

Where did New Balance name and logo come from?

When William Riley began he was inquisitive about how chicken having 3 parts to their feet and how they balance and if they were to wear a shoe how they could wear it with all their lumps and bump as each chickens feet is different. That’s were it came from –
Idea originally was a shoe that was for pedometery reason to help people balance right.

Why are they so much cooler in Japan?

  • Made in UK tag has more value there and they embrace the New Balance style
  • They are quite expensive out there so those wearing them are showing off their wealth and riches, that they can afford them.

Why the Lake District shoe??

  • Keep the top tier interested as they know New Balance but want something unique and limited.
  • Little extra things – they can wear them and show off to people.
  • The Lake District allows them to have a story to tell as well as something to blog and talk about.

How would you describe your tier 1 consumer?

  • Sees what they wear in fashion as a hobby and what makes them unique and individual.

Do you use social media and if so how?

  • In the US we do – we have an active Facebook and we upload videos to You Tube.
  • Haven’t completely established it in the UK and we haven’t got the most out of it yet.
  • We have done a few viral videos but really need more and ones that sell.

What do you want our opinion formers to find out??

  • What other brands they buy into
  • Outfits they wear the brand with
  • What friends think of the shoes and what they are wearing
  • What nights out they attend – gender of music
  • Where they go out
  • Technologies they use – type of phone, have a Mac
  • Social media they use etc
  • Get an overall that they are to get a precise idea of who they are – what they buy, look at etc

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Filed under Interviews, New Balance, Primary Research, Toni

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