What do you do with a brand name that has a high level of consumer recognition, but an aging customer base and an old-fashioned image?
David Bryan, Aris/Isotoner's president, has set out on a mission to revitalize the brand, attracting a new generation of customers. He hopes to boost Isotoner's business by 13 percent this year. Industry sources estimate the firm's annual global volume at about $100 million.
By updating the company's fashion looks, by making them more "lifestyle appropriate," and by continuing to concentrate on comfort and fit, they hope to lure a younger audience than usual: people who are attracted by value and practicality.
For the rest of the winter, consumers will be seeing and hearing a lot about Isotoner's products.
A new TV ad campaign was introduced over the holidays, with Isotoner spokesman Dan Marino of the Miami Dolphins replaced by a series of relationship and lifestyle spots. They feature references to the hands or feet of loved ones and the line "Protect What You Cherish." The spots end with a product shot and a reminder of Isotoner's strengths: warmth and comfort.
In addition, Isotoner's newspaper campaign, which began in mid-November, is meant to react immediately to current weather conditions in the eight major cities where it is running. Ads warn of approaching cold fronts, or rain or snow alerts, and are placed according to local forecasts. The cities are Chicago, Detroit, Boston, Washington, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Minneapolis/ St.Paul and New York.
Other new marketing strategies include unifying all the company's products under the Isotoner label, creating movable, in-store boutiques that showcase all the company's products and encouraging stores to keep gloves and slippers out on the selling floor past the holiday gift-giving season.
Catherine Sadler, vice president of creative services for Sara Lee Accessories, Isotoner's parent, said, "We believe that new campaign will not only increase sales by positioning Isotoner as the gift of choice, but our new, elevated brand image should also drive self purchases."
Isotoner is also planning new products, the latest of which will be available for this week's market. Called "the dry umbrella," it's coated with Teflon and sheds rain almost instantly. There are three foldable sizes, including a new minisize, plus a full-size stick style. The umbrellas wholesale from $5.25 to $11.
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