Marketing to Channels

Focused on chatting with retailers on the east coast this morning, trying to squeeze in some last minute conversations before Super Bowl paralysis grips the nation. The conversations have echoed many of the points brought up in Ocean Rodeo’s interview (below). Many retailers want to stock only the large and well established brands. For all the technological advances, kite surfing (like any extreme sport) can be very dangerous and so proven reliability is what retailers are looking for. Using Steve’s discussion of InLook’s struggles in Chapter 4, at the end of every conversation I asked the retailers I spoke with the following question:
“If we offered you our product for free, would you stock it?”

Like Chip Steven’s, I was very surprised to hear that for about half of the retailers I talked to the answer was “no.” Retailers don’t want to waste time and shelf space stocking a product they don’t know people will buy. Furthermore, they don’t want to risk being associated with an untested product that could potentially result in serious injury to their customers, were it to be defective. Lastly, it is my suspicion (although unconfirmed) that retailers simply get better margins when working with larger kite companies.

The other half of the retailers I talked to said they were less concerned with the price and said they focused on performance, quality and cost. These were typically stores where the owners themselves were hard core kiters. For this group, they learned about new products  from expos, fly the kites and then decide for themselves which products were worth stocking, regardless of brand. In almost all of these conversations I got a personal cell and request that we reach out to them if/when we go to market.

Inadvertently , it appears we have stumbled across two distinct channel segments through our research-the early adopters and mainstream. While the early adopters are obviously the group we will need to focus on initially, it is helpful to have an understanding of both groups at this stage as we develop our channel strategy.
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