Monday, March 14

Zippo

What's a brand to do when it sees its market shrinking? It can certainly hunker down and hang on to what it's got, squeezing profits until they are gone. Or it can also completely reinvent, completely changing its essence and moving on. Or it can take the brand's assets to new places.

That's exactly what Zippo plans to do. Zippo as in the lighters. Who knew that this brand had so much going on?

Smoking is on the decline, so certainly sales of lighters are as well. The Zippo brand has done everything it can to remain cool in a declining category -- waterproof, windproof, iconic designs -- the brand has impressively been pulling out all the stops. Take a look at their website. Very well done.

In an effort to "never give up", Zippo is taking their strong brand equity and going after men with entire new product lines that include a fragrance (don't worry, doesn't smell like lighter fluid), clothing, watches, and camping supplies (not sure about that part). The brand is even going to have retail outlets, starting with a boutique in Soho NYC. I guess in a way Zippo is trying to be the new Swiss Army Knife. You can read about in this article from The Wall Street Journal.

Good for them -- it's a stretch for sure, especially in this economy, but a good one. It's great to see brands continuing to invest and evolve with changing consumer behaviors and attitudes. And it's also great to see another brand for men, they don't come along that often.

There's no reason why they can't turn a very strong heritage brand into a successful lifestyle brand for men. It's certainly an investment, but I say go for it!

What's your experience? Jim.

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