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Brett Elliot, Managing Director of Kookaburra Reader in the UK, spoke with SGB's Paul Clapham about the brand, its position and its future...
SGB: How do you position the brand, what are its key selling points from a retailer's perspective?
Brett Elliot: Kookaburra has always been perceived as an innovative dynamic brand. We pride ourselves on providing well presented, technically advanced and functional products to meet the demands of the sport as it evolves. We have an in-house design department which is the envy of the industry as it consistently provides cutting edge graphics to lead the market at every turn.
This pedigree ensures that consumers are constantly demanding new Kookaburra products so that they can be the first to use the ‘coolest' products in the game.
Kookaburra is very much an aspirational brand - a buzz brand - which seeks to not only service high value in the market but also provide all players with the opportunity to use technically advanced and stylish products. The fact that we have many of the world's top players using Kookaburra is testament to the feel that the Brand produces - ‘it's definitely cool to be a Kookaburra'
SGB: What plans do you have for brand/sales advances?
BE: The 2010 range marks the next generation in Kookaburra Cricket equipment and clothing. Our new collection is both innovative and diverse, offering exciting products at all price points.
We have produced new products in all categories, which are bound to stimulate demand and enhance sales. All categories are very strong and have received an enthusiastic response from Retailers at the recent ‘Super 6' Stock Rooms. Customers should make sure that they see the new collection before they place their orders as they will be disappointed to miss out.
SGB: You have a lot of big names on your sponsor list; how important is that to the retailer? Do they perceive the value?
BE: The sponsorship portfolio is vast with many leading players endorsing Kookaburra equipment. These players are an important tool in spreading the Kookaburra word; however they would not wish to be associated with the Brand unless it offered the performance characteristics that they require to keep them at top form.
It is also clear that the quality of the product which hits the retailer's shelves must match the high profile of the marketing. Recreational Players will not keep coming back to buy unless the products that they get are top notch. In recent years Kookaburra has grown exponentially which reinforces the quality and value that the brand brings to market.
SGB: What about your other marketing activity and support for retailers?
BE: Kookaburra ensures that all customers can present the product for sale in an attractive and marketable fashion - the quality and design of the product is excellent, whilst the packaging is eye catching and functional.
We offer all retail partners a variety of website support tools which can enhance the look of their sites as well as numerous posters, screen savers etc that can be downloaded from the Kookaburra site.
In store we offer a variety of support mechanisms, which can enhance the look of a Kookaburra section in store.
In terms of product, it is vitally important that USP's are communicated to the public - this has been achieved through the introduction of Product Feature pictograms which when applied to products draw attention to the many unique performance features that Kookaburra products include.
SGB: What do the best retailers do in terms of selling cricket that others should adopt?
BE: It is essential for any cricket retailer to know their market. They need to be proactive and visible within their sector.
The true cricket specialist offers their customer variety of product, in-depth information about the products and good service. There are plenty of recreational cricketers particularly junior players looking for a destination store through which to purchase their requirements. By offering a good specialist buying environment, retailers can create that buying experience that will ensure that customers return year after year.
It is important to supplement the in-store experience with a credible and informative website. This needs to evolve and offer consumers that experience which will ensure that they revisit the site over and over again - not just when they need to buy products.
SGB: How much retail selling is involved in the cricket sector and how much do customers buy?
BE: The retail environment is still an important area of the cricket market - cricket bats are a ‘feel and touch' product hence there will always be the opportunity for a ‘face to face' transaction; however where websites and e-tailers can score is by offering consumers much more than a picture and product experience. The flexibility that the web offers makes it very easy to get your message to consumers quickly and easily at the touch of a button.
The biggest strength that a traditional retailer has is the ability to interact with his customer to determine their needs and how best they can be serviced.
SGB: How price-driven is the market?
BE: Society in general is very price driven and it is true that in difficult economic times there is a great temptation for leisure spending to reduce; however specialist areas of sport tend to be more resilient to the effects of down turns.
Kookaburra offers exceptional value through out the range which will encourage even more players to embrace the brand.
SGB: What benefits do Kookaburra get from success of an England team (as recently); do retailers take full advantage of this?
BE: A successful England team will undoubtedly attract interest from the various arms of the media. This normally generates an interest in the game from young players. This has been historically the growth area of the game. The ECB has an extensive development programme which seeks to maximize take up and ensure that players continue to play. This increase in demand will always have a positive effect upon sales.
To maximize sales opportunities, retailers need to ensure that they have good stocks of the buzz brands to cater for the demand from this promotionally sensitive area of the market. They need to offer all the elements that I have discussed previously to ensure that potential customers walk through their door to buy their requirements.
The history of the brand
Founded in 1890 by Alfred Grace Thompson, a saddle and harness maker, A G Thompson Pty Ltd began business in Victoria, Australia and by WW1 was already entrenched as one of the leading Australian hand-made cricket ball manufacturers.
Kookaburra's world famous Turf Cricket Ball is used in 85% of all Test Cricket World wide and has been used exclusively in Australia, New Zealand and South African Test Cricket since 1946. The White version is used in all ODI and T/20 International Matches as well as the vast majority of domestic One Day competitions.
Kookaburra first arrived in the United Kingdom in the late 1970's, acting through a distributor; however demand was such that it was patently obvious that the way forward was to be via the establishment of a Kookaburra business in the UK, which was established in 1987 in Corby, Northamptonshire
In 2001 Kookaburra acquired Alfred Reader Ltd. This joining of the largest manufacturer and supplier of cricket balls in the northern hemisphere with Kookaburra made Kookaburra the largest cricket ball company in the world._Additionally, Kookaburra has a reputation as the world's most innovative cricket brand both in terms of graphic design but also in technical developments in specifications of product. The endorsement of the many of the world's leading players, including Ricky Ponting, is testament to the quality and expertise that Kookaburra put into every product.
In hockey, the company also has a rich pedigree. The Dimple Elite was specifically designed to enhance roll and performance on synthetic pitches and has been the ball of choice in all International hockey since the Melbourne Olympics in 1956. The brand is the fastest growing and most exciting brand in world hockey with sales to date for this financial year running at approximately 45% above last year's performance.