Outdoor Insight

August 2018

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42 • Outdoor Insight • August 2018 outdoorinsightmag.com SOCKS CAN BE A FICKLE BUSINESS. Take weather for example, it can play a large role in the hosiery a consumer chooses to wear. "The new norm is that if we want to meet the retailer's needs, we need to have the manufacturing ability to adjust and follow the regional season retail trends," comments Bruce Barrows, VP- business development for Standard Merchandising Co. For optimal flexibility with its Fox River brand, Standard Merchandising invested $2 million in technology in 2017. Catering to longer winters and summers can lead to increased sales and happier customers all around. Here are some other moves working for brands at retail. 1. Feel-Good Fabrics "Consumers around the world are making more conscious buying choices by seeking out fabrics that not only perform, but also have a softer footprint on the planet" (and their feet), notes Sockwell director of marketing, Sarah Bailey. American-grown Merino wool blended with bamboo offers natural moisture management, thermo-regulation, odor resistance and all-day comfort "giving peace of mind to those who want to feel good about their purchase," the exec says. "Texture and feel are very important – this is typically an indicator of quality," shares Kim Gross, chief strategist for sales and marketing at Lily Trotters. The brand provides retailers with free try-on socks "as we believe to love us, is to wear us," she adds. Socks should not feel thick or bulky, and should have the abil- ity to "slide from sneakers into work shoes," according to Gross. Feetures! new marled look is cre- ated through a new fabric for a better, softer fit and feel. "If you want to use a performance fabric, but sacrifice soft touch in doing so, you're going to lose at retail. People will pick it up and put it right back," says Joe Gaither, Feetures! VP-marketing. FootZen, which markets non- binding socks for the comfort and footwear solutions market, uses synthetic MedDry yarns which are soft on the skin in its line. Combined with antimicrobial mohair, MedDry offers "a very gentle interaction with the skin to avoid irritation and friction," says Tanya Pictor, VP-marketing for FootZen parent co., Implus. At Wigwam, more styles from the brand now incorporate Wigwam's INgenius NXT technol- ogy, a strategically positioned knit-in lining, which moves mois- ture away from skin to the outside of the sock preventing blisters. For Spring 2019 Wigwam is also adding more run and hike-specific socks to its offerings. 2. Purpose-Driven Product As lifestyle and comfort inter- sects in socks, "we are getting far more requests for lifestyle-ori- ented point-of-sale materials than ever before," Pictor continues. The exec is seeing younger con- sumers who want product with fashionable appeal. QSD market- ing executive Carine Villeneuve explains that "consumers want products that help them heal." EC3D compression socks address foot pronation, supination and plantar fasciitis pain. Consumers want socks that solve problems. Fox River's Barrows explains that shoppers "want to know what this product will do for me and it needs to be communicated visually." For him, "it is not just acceptable to list features." Consumers want to see what the sock is designed for, along with one or two key benefits. For example, the Swiftwick Flite XT is a cross-training sock engineered to improve stability during activities that require lat- eral motion. GripDry (a nanofiber blended with olefin) prevents slippage and keeps the foot dry. AnkleLock technology gives extra support around the ankle. There are other benefits, but these are the meat of the product. In short, as per Swiftwick marketing manager Rebecca Henson, "this If Merchandised Correctly, Brands Can Pay Lots of Bills via Sock Sales. We ask Executives to Share Best Practices In-Store. By Suzanne Blecher • HOW TO SELL • HOSIERY "The sock department should be one of the most profitable real- estate per square foot in the store and a lot of bills should be paid for from sock sales." Mark Comcowich, Darn Tough Sales and Marketing Director. Lily Trotters Dots-A-Plenty Athlete Wrightsock with CEP sleeves

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