Riddell, the brainchild of John Tate Riddell, has a long and illustrious history of introducing innovative sports equipment. Since 1929 the Riddell Sports has been producing technologically innovative performance equipment aimed at providing athletes efficient safety gear (Riddell, 2012). A wide range of sports equipment is manufactured by Riddell Sports ranging from its most popular product the football helmets to other sports equipment such as shoulder pads, face masks, body pads and helmet chin straps. In 2006 Riddell Bell Holdings and Easton Sports merged their operations forming Easton-Bell Sports (Riddell, 2012). Riddell has been a prominent brand of Easton-Bell Sports ever since 2006 along with its other brands such as Easton, Giro and bell (Riddell, 2012).
Football is a tough sport and medical researches prove that there exist strong chances that regular players will suffer from at least one concussion while playing for a school, college or professional football team (Hyde & Gengenbach, 2007). Concussion is an injury to brain that is caused by a punch or violent strike on the head (Hyde & Gengenbach, 2007). The medical implications of concussion can be mild like suffering from a headache to severe like going into coma. Concussion is a serious problem plaguing American football. Nearly 63,000 students participating in ten different high school sports suffer from mild concussions each year with two-third of them suffer concussions while playing football (Hyde & Gengenbach, 2007). Among football players brain injury is the most common cause of death. It is the responsibility of coaches along with the school and college authorities to ensure that athletes are provided proper safety gear for taking part in any sport. Along with this parents and athletes themselves should take proper steps to prevent any injury which includes use of appropriate head gear, avoiding dangerous on-field practices such as head-on tacking and head shots in hockey (Hyde & Gengenbach, 2007). In case of a concussion the athletes should not be allowed to return back to field until they are cleared by a neurologist after a thorough examination for possible brain injuries.
The above statistics show that there exists a huge market need for safety sports gear. This need was effectively tapped by Riddell (Riddell, 2012). The Riddell Sports uses a variety of innovative sports technologies to manufacture safety equipment for athletes that helps them in improving their performance on field (Riddell, 2012). Through effective marketing of its sports safety equipment Riddell can ensure it retains the top spot in safety sports equipment manufacturing for many years to come (Riddell, 2012). Below is a detailed marketing plan for Riddell Sports that examines the marketing strategies currently adopted by Riddell and the possible strategies it can adopt for better promotion of its products.
Strengths: The main strengths of Riddell Sports are outlined below.
Riddell is one of the leading football helmet suppliers for schools, colleges and professional football teams.
Riddell is the official helmet provider of the National Football League (NFL).
Low cost manufacturing and assembling facilities along with excellent relationship with suppliers throughout the world.
Riddell also provides state of the art reconditioning services for football safety gear and equipment in US that uses cutting edge technologies like Riddell Staph-Fighter to get rid of viruses, bacteria and molds developed inside the sporting gear.
Weaknesses: The main weaknesses of Riddell Sports are outlined below.
A limited marketing budget to develop consumer brand awareness.
Inability to tackle competition from emerging protective football equipment manufacturers such as Schutt and Rawlings.
Opportunities: The main opportunities for Riddell Sports are outlined below.
An exceptionally motivated product development team that is keen to develop innovative products offering complete safety solutions to athletes.
Through optimization of supply chain operational efficiencies can be gained.
Football helmet manufacturing remains an extremely lucrative business with sales for safety football gear rising from $308 million in 2009 to almost $327 million in 2010.
Threats: The main threats being faced by Riddell Sports are outlined below.
Strong performance of Schutt Sports at all levels of football manufacturing grabbing almost 57% of total market share of safety football manufacturing (Brown, 2011).
The strong re-emergence of Rawlings after a gap of two decades. In its first year of operations in 2011 it captured about 6%-7% of the market (Brown, 2011).
Marketing Plan for Riddell Sports
The sports equipment industry is a very fast growing industry which makes a projected $3 billion a year. According to Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association (SGMA) an estimated 1 million athletes were a part of high school football teams in 2002. These figures point out towards tremendous potential for sales of football related equipment and accessories. Riddell Sports is currently the market leader in football helmet sales closely followed by Rawlings Football, Schutt Sports and Xenith.
Target Market Description
The target market for football equipment and accessories can be divided into four main groups:
Youth league programs focused on young athletes
High school students
Demographics: The target market of Riddell Sports may comprise of both unmarried young men mainly falling in the 9-25 years age bracket to the married men falling in the 25-35 years age bracket.
Psychographics: Riddell Sports mainly aims to target men of around 9-35 years of age who play football this is the reason the Riddell Sports advertisements are mainly shown during NFL games when men are most likely to be watching the television. Interest is another common factor in determining psychographic trend, the target market of Riddell Sports takes equal interest in football. The interest level may vary while some may be interested in watching football on television others are more interested in playing on-field, but all are connected by their love for the game.
Geographic location: In the US certain geographical areas are well-known for their love for football (Delaney & Madigan, 2009). Significant evidence collected over a period of time proves that football is very popular in Texas, Florida and Alabama (Delaney & Madigan, 2009). Thus, the Riddell Sports should concentrate all its energies on effectively marketing its football gear in these areas.
Marketing Strategy Mix
Riddell Sports manufactures football helmets and equipment as well as helmets and equipment used in baseball, lacrosse and other team sports (Riddell, 2012). Riddell Sports may be divided into three main product categories among which are described as below:
Football helmets: Riddell manufactures varsity football helmets, youth football helmets, football helmet face masks, and football helmet accessories (Riddell, 2012).
Shoulder pads: In this category Riddell also manufactures varsity football shoulder pads, junior varsity shoulder pads, youth football shoulder pads (Riddell, 2012).
Reconditioning services: Riddell also provides a cleaning and repairing service for helmets in order to repair any broken parts and pass the helmets through a Riddell Staph-Fighter machine in order to completely sanitize the sports equipment and get rid of molds, viruses and bacteria hidden in the sporting gear (Riddell, 2012). The Riddell Staph-Fighter machine has an amazing kill rate of more than 99.99% of the bacteria (Riddell, 2012).
Placement: The version of football that closely resembles rugby and requires athletes to wear helmets is more popular in North America and Europe. Thus, the Riddell Sports placement strategy will be more closely focused on targeting the North American market.
Pricing: The pricing strategy of Riddell Sports is based on close monitoring of the prices of competitor’s products and then developing its pricing strategy accordingly. Riddell Sports continuously strives to remain in line with its competitor’s prices including Rawlings Football, Schutt Sports and Xenith. Price for Riddell’s football helmets will also be made competitive with substitute products as well.
Distribution Strategy: Riddell Sport has world’s most diversified distribution network for helmets used in athletic and recreational activities. Riddell Sports will be distributing its football equipment through a combination of channels such as:
Sporting goods stores
Independent specialty retailers
Positioning Statement Riddell Sports is positioned as the official helmet of the National Football League (NFL). This is a very powerful positioning statement for Riddell since the competitors cannot imitate it as long as the Riddell Sports is the official helmet supplier of the NFL. Another important reason why it is a powerful positioning statement is because the positioning statement is visible to the customers (Reynolds, 2001). During NFL matches they can see the logo of Riddell Sports on the helmets and other safety equipment worn by athletes.
Competitor Review: In the US protective football manufacturing equipment market there are three major companies that have the potential and operational and financial ability to snatch market share away from Riddell Sports. These companies are:
Schutt Sports: Offering substantial competition to Riddell Sports in the football helmet manufacturing market.
Xenith: Offering substantial competition to Riddell Sports in the youth football helmet market, high school football helmet market and college football helmets market.
Rawlings Football: Offering substantial competition to Riddell Sports in the football helmet and apparel manufacturing market.
Other competitors of Riddell sports include:
Diamond Sports: Offering substantial competition to Riddell Sports in the softball and baseball equipment manufacturing market.
Douglas Protective Equipment: Offering substantial competition to Riddell Sports in the shoulder pads manufacturing market.
Marketing Communication and Promotion Strategies
Press Releases: In the marketing communication context press release is a very effective tool for announcing the arrival of a new product or service into the market. Press releases are usually prepared to convey positive information about the organization. The format of a press release is the same whether it is being prepared for radio, television or newspapers. Riddell Sports actively releases press releases announcing the arrival of new products in the market. Some press releases issued by Riddell in recent times are:
On December 12, 2011 Riddell Sport released a press statement announcing that it has entered into a exclusive partnership with National Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association (NIAAA) to educate athletic administrators about latest safety equipment for athletes (Riddell Press Releases, 2012).
On January 12, 2012 Riddell Sports announced though a press release that it was acquiring Gunther’s Athletic Service; a West Coast company specializing in sales of sporting equipment and uniforms. The press release further mentioned that the strategic move of acquiring Gunther’s will help to boast Riddell’s presence in West Coast (Riddell Press Releases, 2012).
On February 14, 2012 Sports announced though a press release that it was renewing its helmet and equipment partnership with USA Football, which is football’s regulating body in the US (Riddell Press Releases, 2012).
Consumer Brand Awareness Strategies
Billboards: Non-traditional billboards effectively advertising Riddell’s safe helmets erected in college stadiums, densely populated neighborhoods can help the consumers to identify with the products of Riddell helmets.
Magazines: Riddell Sports can prominently advertise its product offerings through major US sports magazines, since these magazines are read by athletes and sports buffs that are more likely to take interest in advertisements related to sports goods and equipment. Magazine based advertising is a very good way to promote sales of a firm’s goods and products. Prominent sports magazines through which Riddell sports can advertise its product offerings are:
Social Media: Contemporary marketing scenario has been taken over by emerging social media channels (Weinberg, 2009). Various social media channels can be used by Riddell Sports for advertisements of its goods and services, some of the many social media channels that can be used by Riddell Sports are:
Print Advertising: Riddell can increase consumer brand awareness by advertising through various print media channels such as magazines, newspapers, industry periodicals, in-house publication and a direct mail campaign (Hackley, 2010).
Event Marketing: Organizations around the world create events that are tied around marketing of their own products (Trehan & Trehan, 2007). Riddell Sports can also use various event marketing tactics to increase its customer base, some of these tactics are mentioned below:
Organizing promotional events at various schools and colleges where exhibition football matches are held and the winning team is provided free product samples including premium items bearing company’s logo for example t-shirts, hats, mugs etc.
In addition to this Riddell Sports can also sponsor local art exhibits, music concerts and various other festivals where there are chances that a large number of men and adult boys will be in attendance, since the main target market for Riddell safety helmets are the above mentioned two groups of consumers. At different locations on the event site large banners and signage featuring Riddell’s products can be erected which would subconsciously work to increase consumer brand awareness.
Organizing such events greatly contribute to increasing consumer brand awareness and can be am effective marketing ploy that can reap great benefits for the sponsoring organization if used wisely.
Sales Promotion tactics: Sales promotion is one of the most popular tactical weapons available to organizations around the globe which can be effectively utilized to enhance firm’s distinctive capabilities along with giving the organization a unique edge over its competitors (Hackley, 2010). The Riddell Sports can use various sales promotion strategies to boost firm’s sales. Some of the most powerful tactics which can be used by an organization are:
A great sales promotion tactic can be that of a offer of a price-cut on a prestigious product of the organization. For example Riddell Sports can offer price-cut on its $376.99 ‘The Game Changer brand’ of helmets or its $248.99′ Revolution Speed’ brand of helmets (Riddell, 2012).
Offering customers a free product when they buy a higher priced helmet. For example customers buying one ‘Game Changer’ helmet worth around $380 would be given a free chin strap worth $8 (Riddell, 2012).
Another popular consumer demand pulling marketing tactic can be the use of coupons (Fifield, 2012). Coupons are a very well-known means of offering targeted customers discounts on selected items (Fifield, 2012). In the case of Riddell helmets these coupons can be distributed in magazines, or advertised on the sports page of local newspaper from where it can be cut and presented to nearby retailer carrying Riddell helmets for a discount of a specified item. Coupons may also be distributed through direct mail or in stores and shopping malls.
Broadcast media: Broadcast media includes television and radio (Ranchhod, 2007). Organizations across the world use broadcast media for marketing of their products and services because of the ability of this particular medium to reach a large number of people either internationally or nationally (Fifield, 2012). One of the main benefits of broadcast media is its ability to create vivid product messages that are memorable and compelling (Ranchhod, 2007). Riddell Sports also ran one such memorable television commercial during the National Football League’s Arizona Cardinals vs. Dallas Cowboys game (Riddell, 2012).
World’s Apart Television Commercial: This television commercial was aired in 2011 (Riddell, 2012). The 30 second commercial which featured top-quality Riddell football equipment gave the message that players may represent entirely different football teams but they are same because they are wearing protective gear and helmets made by Riddell (Riddell, 2012). The particular television commercial designed by HeadRush advertising agency received amazing feedback from television viewers across the US (HeadRush Creative, 2011).
Celebrity Endorsements: The TEARS (Trustworthiness, Expertise, Physical Attractiveness, Respect, and Similarity to Target Audience) model has been developed to describe the reasons why using a celebrity as an endorser for a firm’s product can produce a positive impact on the overall sales of the organization (Fifield, 2012). When customers see their favorite celebrity using a product they can easily identify and recall that particular product when they go for shopping (Hackley, 2010). The use of well known celebrities in advertising is a great marketing tool that has been effectively used by Riddell for marketing of its safety sports gear. The Riddell Sports has a long standing history of roping in top of the class athletes for celebrity endorsement of Riddell products. Some of the famous athletes endorsing Riddell products are:
Dave Mirra the American BMX athlete who holds the record for winning the highest number of X-games medals endorses Riddell helmets.
Tony Hawk also endorses Riddell helmets. He is also famously known as ‘birdman’, for his amazing antics using skateboard. Tony Hawk holds the record for being the vertical skateboarding champion for 12 years in a row.
Tanner Hall, the legendary American skier also endorses Riddell helmets. Tanner Hall has defined and pushed the limits for freestyle skiing, at the age of 28 years he holds the record for most career gold medals and thus, is a perfect choice for marketing the Riddell helmets.
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