MARKET WATCH: Boardshorts From A Vending Machine

If you read this article you'll see that Quik has partnered with Standard Hotels to sell co-branded swim suits at boutiques and poolside vending machines for $75 a pair.

I'm not writing this to express an opinion (though I'm usually not loathe to do that) but just to let you know it's happening and to talk about the general implications.

Just when you think there are no new distribution channels, up pops another one. I don't know where the next one will come from, but I know it will appear.  Is it at the expense of some other distribution channel?  Sure.  To some extent.  But might it also create some new customers?  Sure. To some extent. Sales at resorts or hotel shops and pools are often to people who need something they need right now.  I'd say you fit into that category if you want to swim and don't have a suit.

Every time you choose a new way to distribute your product- each time it can be found somewhere different-, you change your customer base and the market's perception of your brand. To some extent. Can you manage that so you get more customers than you lose? How many different distribution channels, partners, products and price tiers can you have before your brand evolves from what it started as to what it needs to be to attract those new customers you need for growth?  Can you keep the old customers? To some extent.  Figuring this kind of stuff out is what the best executives do.

I lied. I do have an opinion. I might not go as far as the writer of the linked article and say its "brilliant," but I think it's a good idea which might grow and is consistent with how Quik has evolved their brand. Even if it grows, it doesn't feel like it will have much downside for other parts of their distribution. I imagine there are some specialty retailers already shell shocked by the recession and distribution issues that might disagree. But Quik, like all brands and all retailers, has to do what it perceives to be in its own best interest. I think they made a good decision.

Market Watch - Jeff Harbaugh
Market Watch - Jeff Harbaugh

Jeff Harbaugh is a consultant for the action sports industry and works with companies to identify and focus on critical business issues and opportunities fundamental to the bottom line. For more information, visit www.jeffharbaugh.com.