Know your brand

Identifying the right survival strategy is easier when you are clear-minded about your brand.

Consider MasterCraft. The 40-year-old boat builder grew by 5 percent last model year when much of the rest of the industry was down. Although it has seen significant softening since then in nearly all geographic regions, it isn’t changing its strategy.

“We still believe that our high-end, well-heeled buyer held up as we anticipated, so we have begun to create products to satisfy that buyer with significant content that may not be affordable to the mass buyer,” says John Dorton, president and CEO.

These targeted consumers aren’t just affluent. They are hard-core boaters who are extremely active in water sports. And when they declare their brand loyalty, they just might tattoo the logo somewhere on their bodies.

To reach out to this customer base, MasterCraft has been focusing on direct retailing in conjunction with its dealers. For example, last fall dealers flew in planeloads of MasterCraft enthusiasts to tour the factory, chat with management and demo boat models. It was a wildly successful promotion, with many boat orders signed on the spot.

The manufacturer has also worked with dealers to enhance the retail experience.

“We are selling $50,000 to $150,000 boats; if they were cars, they would be in the range of BMWs and Mercedes,” Dorton says, “So for our dealerships to sell the value of the product, the shopping experience needs to be more interactive in nicer facilities that are better merchandised.”

MasterCraft’s marketing and promotions are closely watched by many in the industry and sometimes imitated, but not always successfully. Dorton says it comes back to knowing your brand.

“It’s up to each company to know their brand character and brand possibilities,” he states.

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