An interview with John Zimmerman, founder of Ocean Redeo Kiteboarding reveals some fundamental challenges to entering the kitesurfing market. Ocean Rodeo manufactures and sells drysuits and kitesurfing equipment. It’s now an established brand in the industry, but struggled to build itself from its humble beginnings in 1999.
In this interview from Destination Kiteboarding, a popular kiteboarding forum, Zimmerman discusses that the kiteboarding market is actually quite competitive. Starting out, Ocean Rodeo was unable to compete with well-established brands with large marketing budgets. Hence, the company decided to create a reputation for innovation, durability, and quality. Zimmerman calls it “Performance over hype.” He further attributes OR’s ability to promote these qualities to the company’s experienced and “somewhat unconventional designer.”
One of the interviews Woods and I conducted this week was with Jared Hutchings, managing director of Peer Venture Partners and kitesurfing enthusiast. Hutchings suggested that our team might consider building our brand from a quality standpoint. To make our products stand out, one way could be to create the ultimate high-performance kite with cutting edge kitesurfing technology.
Ocean Rodeo uses multiple channels for distribution which include online sales and selling through retail stores. From their site, I was able to glean that they even have a referral rewards program to encourage sales through personal networks–something we at Engine Kites were considering since we found most people get involved with kitesurfing through a friend’s recommendation. Part of OR’s marketing strategy (particularly early on) also revolves around forming strategic relationships with kite surfers who showcase OR products. In turn, OR embraces and rewards its “crew” with events and forums. Zimmerman said his company found great success with this bootstrap approach.