Hayley E. Ferguson speaks to Dexshell’s Chris Dodd about establishing and marketing a waterproof brand in the cycling industry

You’ve got a general sporting background. How does marketing a product like Dexshell in the cycling market compare to other sport industries?

Yes, I spent seven years at Adidas, three years with Asics, and two at Puma. I’ve also worked for Pentland, and as an agent in the fashion market before taking this role as European brand manager on for Fordville, Dexshell’s European distributor.

I love the cycle trade. It’s more relaxed than other industries, but there is also a business-focused atmosphere. All in all, cycling is a vibrant market to be involved in. I think that the consumer is still very much driven to independents by word-of- mouth recommendations from friends, family, and colleagues. This enhances a thriving independent market. Online can be challenging but, as of yet, there’s no oversaturation of high street multiples. We see in other channels that this is a real bonus, and especially a testament to how strong the independents are.

All your ambassadors are cyclists. On the surface, Dexshell seems to target cycling more than other industries. Why is this?

Cycling was our first focus when we came to market with Dexshell three years ago. We have some very good agents in the industry, so this was the obvious way to go. And, combined with an internal sales team who all come from a sporting background, we obtained market share very quickly. In 2017, we felt we needed more coverage. Because of that, we invested in using ambassadors and race sponsorship within the cycle market to help secure our growth plans and to help us be seen as a serious player in this industry. This has led to greater brand awareness, and it really helped to push the brand in 2017.

Do your consumers’ needs differ notably across markets? If so, how?

No, I don’t really think so. In all markets, there are two types of consumer needs. You have the price-driven consumer, whose purchase is made on price, and the service-driven consumer who’s looking for the best advice and service. We, as a brand, have to make sure that we’re working in both markets. This means our product ranges need to be correct to support both areas without compromising our market position and existing customers.

In what cycling sector do you see the most interest in element-repellent wear? Are you targeting other sectors?

I would say that the product is sold 50/50 to road and mountain bike users. But, basically, if you’re going to get wet, you need Dexshell. As you can imagine, the product is very diverse and offers itself to many segments. We want to be a brand that is available to everyone and not just the elite performers. We want both customers, which our pricing architecture shows. Our recommended retail prices start at £18.95, and go up to £45. Cheaper doesn’t mean inferior.

What’s your marketing and product development process?

We try to keep our product names generic so that we can let the retailers buy what they think is the right product for their customer base. SKU efficiency is very important, to avoid overcomplicating things at both retailer and consumer level. We do however listen to the feedback and create product and bring to market product that is required rather than just bringing something new out that hasn’t got a starting point. So an example of that is the Ultra Dri Sports sock, the cycle market was asking us for a crew length sock (normal length) with a water seal. So we developed this sock specifically in mind using the feedback we received from retailers. But going back to the point earlier of using a generic name for the product we can also sell this to running stores, outdoor stores, military etc as its name doesn’t tie is to a specific segment of the market.

What are your plans for 2018?

One of the objectives this year is to target the “commuter rider” – the Brompton city guys and girls – more with our Ultra Thin socks as they can be used with any type of footwear due to the thinness of the product, all the while remaining 100 per cent waterproof. In addition to that, using Bamboo outers and inners provides the extra benefit of comfort, flexibility and antibacterial properties. 

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