Combined with heavy spending on its “Beyond Reason” campaign, Oakley's strong visibility at the London Olympic Games has been a fantastic booster for the brand, considering the fact that it is now recording overall growth of between 15 and 20 percent in the Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region, says Frank Heissat, vice president and general manager of the company responsible for the area.
Its sales have been particularly strong in the U.K., probably in part because of the massive advertising that Oakley carried out in London in various ways during the Games. Reportedly, that has not been the case with many other brands in various non-food product segments, such as clothing and footwear, according to market researchers. They noted that many London residents stayed out of the city to avoid traffic congestion during the event. Many Britons remained at home to watch the Games on television, but Oakley felt a major uptick in British sales after the Games were over.
Oakley is feeling a positive momentum in terms of sell-in as well as the sell-out in all the major markets in the region and across all retail channels and across all product categories. Interestingly, sales have gone up lately by more than 20 percent even in Italy and Spain, in spite of the economic difficulties in those countries, and they have been developing nicely in the Middle East.
More than 700 athletes from 205 countries wore Oakley glasses during the London Games, including new high-tech models such as the RadarLock. Many spent time at the cozy Oakley Safehouse along the Thames River during the Games, and 107 of them went on the podium, including 56 competitors from the EMEA region. They earned 38 gold, 42 silver and 27 bronze medals in a variety of disciplines. At the Olympic Games in Beijing four years ago, Oakley-sponsored athletes won only 88 medals. At both events, Oakley enjoyed a lot more visibility than any other brand of sports eyewear.
As previously reported, the new “Beyond Reason” campaign was a major component of this year's advertising budget for Oakley, which is taking up 12 percent of its revenues. Launched globally in the spring, it had a clear effect in July on the “brand health monitor,” run by the company each year to measure brand awareness, perception and intent to purchase.
In the EMEA region, Oakley used the opportunity of the Games to conduct sales clinics before and after the event and to raise its presence at retail. More than 500 shop windows were decorated with material from the “Beyond Reason” campaign, and new permanent shop-in-shops were inaugurated in 12 stores. Oakley also set up temporary stores at London airports and several shopping malls.
A total of 20 new shop-in-shops of various sizes are due to be established by Oakley's retail clients in the EMEA region in the course of this year, bringing up their total number to 80. The company has also signed a lease for a container-like space in the Boxpark shopping complex located in the Shoreditch district of London, just across from its own U.K. office. Oakley is getting many requests for brand spaces and products by numerous retailers, but the management remains very selective about the distribution. It prefers to work more closely with the best retail accounts.
On the other hand, Oakley is definitely “recruiting new customers,” as Heissat puts it, by looking for a better mix between sport performance and sport lifestyle. The target clientele is getting broader and younger. Oakley is also beginning to test the female clientele with some specific products and messages, starting in the U.S., in preparation for a stronger global statement in this interesting segment in 2014.