From head to toe
Today I have three specialist running brands in the portfolio, each working really well with one another. From clothing, accessories and packs from Ronhill, to technical performance socks from Hilly and the latest brand to join the group is Altra footwear, having brought in the UK & Ireland distribution rights to OSC last year. Altra is a great fit for us as it has a unique zero-drop, cushioning and toe-box proposition and compliments Ronhill and Hilly nicely. We can kit you out form head to toe in specialist running products.
Growing our customer base
We sit in a good place in the market, attracting the active 30-50 year old with an even gender split, appealing to both men and women. It is a discerning consumer base, looking for product that sits with their values, with great fit, fabrics and of course pricing. They are also a committed bunch, getting involved in the sport for fitness, good health and training for half and full marathons amongst other events.
To get to where Ronhill is today women have powered the growth of the brand. Women have driven the growth in the running market and we have been well positioned over the past ten years to develop with it. But also internally we have a strong dedicated group of ladies in our design and development team who have been key in developing our new Momentum range of printed leg wear and bringing through more fashion influenced fabric selections.
We’ve had some really great moments of success over the last year. Hilly has retained its crown as the best sock brand at the recent Running Awards and Ronhill received two awards for the second year running for best men’s clothing and won bronze in the women’s clothing category.
Additionally, the OSC group was awarded Leader status following our annual audit by Fair Wear Foundation. This is testament to the hard work by our production and sourcing teams to ensure our suppliers are fit and proper and our garment factories have good working conditions.
Speaking broadly to all those invested in the running market we have to be aware of changes in product speed to market and also how consumers will find and buy products but also what brands appeal to them.
The broad direction of travel is that consumers don’t want more stuff, but experiences that will challenge them personally and moments to share with friends and family. We need to be relevant as brands to be with our customers in their pursuits and helping them tick things off their bucket list.
For specialist and independent retailers, keep being embedded within your local communities, and continue to evolve how you are a part of your customers’ lives, understanding what they are doing, what product they need and how they will go about purchasing it.
One of the major changes I’ve implemented over the past 24 months is to have a greater dialogue and relationship with our Ronhill customers. I’ve challenged them to take a leaf out of Dr. Ron’s book and create their own run streak in October, be that a few days or the whole month – not the full 52 years and 39 days he recently clocked up! It’s been a great experience to put together a social campaign such as this and working with our creative and media partners to build an audience and cultivate a conversation with them. The responses have been great, even fanatical at times.
For Spring ’18 I’ve just launched the For The Long Run campaign to the trade, which will activate online and in-stores from late- February next year.
We have a time frame set out in which we want to double our business. To get to this first target, in the UK we are undertaking different strategies for each of the three brands, as each is at a different stage in their development. However, a significant part will come from developing international sales for Ronhill and Hilly with our key distribution partners. As an example I’ve just launched the #RunEveryDay concept in China with our partners based in Nanjing.
Through careful investment, direction and planning I’ve every confidence we can achieve our goals as a business, develop with retailers and provide runners with product they want to run in.