Tell us about the company
Mercian was started in 1974 and has developed from a hockey retailer and UK wholesaler into a global brand with customers, agents, distributors and ambassadors in 33 countries.
Who’s the brand aimed at?
It’s always aimed to produce products that can be used at any level - from the first beginner’s stick to equipment used by multiple Olympians.
Tell us about your recent rebrand
We’ve just finished working with the Chapter agency, based in the Midlands, to help us create a new fresh look, but more importantly an attitude to attract the end user in a different way.
What do you mean by attitude?
The established brands - I would classify us as one of those - have possibly thought technically superior products will continue to have a market leading position. That concept has been challenged and we now feel consumers do look at that, but they also need an emotional link to the brand.
They perceive quality to be associated with marketing, product placement, design and the feel of the brand, which is what having an attitude means. We have worked with Chapter to create a logo, attitude statement and promo materials that are all very different to anything we have ever done before.
While the products are underpinned with the same technical specifications, how we show them off, the photography, links to ambassadors, literature and videos are completely new.
How will this work influence sales?
Our rebranding plan has been developed to target both our retail network and the end user. We have great relationships with our retailers and the products and brand presentations we have been showing them have already resulted in growth in our stock orders for the coming season.
They know the kind of products that sell well and the resources needed to help those sales, so we are providing product images and some different types of imagery that can be used in-store for displays and on monitors.
Just as importantly, we need to convince the end user to go in-store or online to buy Mercian goods. That is where the new promotional videos and photographs we are creating come in - getting the end user interested in the new energy around the brand, linking it with a full social media programme to inspire them to relate to the brand and then buy into it.
Key features of the new range?
We run too may products to be able to highlight all the key features, so we’ll look at two key areas - sticks and goalkeeping.
The most asked question when someone buys a composite hockey stick is: “How much carbon is in it?” While we may not agree with the question, the reality is that’s the one that’s asked. As a result, we’ve invested in a higher quantity of carbon in our sticks at adult entry level prices than just about any other brand.
Goalkeeping equipment is a difficult area for retailers to get involved in, but it’s an area where we almost doubled sales last year. We have an international range where products are up to 20 per cent lighter than competitor’s similar models and up to 20 per cent cheaper.
While we wouldn’t expect our retailers to hold huge stocks of bulky and expensive items, we can make product recommendations and ship full sets to their choice of address.
What additional support are you offering retailers?
The third target area for us within our new strategy was to make ordering and reordering as simple as possible. While the team in our Woking office have great relationships with our retail network, they aren’t there 24/7 and sometimes our retailers want to order at a time more convenient to them. So as well as the rebrand and the social media programme, we have commissioned a full ecommerce platform.
How will the site work?
It will act as a business-to-business site in the countries where we have full retail networks [the site will lock out consumer sales in eight specific countries based on IP address and delivery address], but will also act as a business-to-consumer platform in countries where we don’t.
Will it include details of live stock levels?
Yes, as well as information on incoming stock. It will enable retail customers to get immediate insight into what is available, their order history and popular key lines from the range other people are buying.
For more information call 01483 757677, email [email protected] or visit www.mercianhockey.com