The Brand Management Efforts of a Niche Specialist: New Balance in the Athletic Footwear Industry

By Gladden, James M.; McDonald, Mark A. | International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship, June-July 1999 | Go to article overview

The Brand Management Efforts of a Niche Specialist: New Balance in the Athletic Footwear Industry


Gladden, James M., McDonald, Mark A., International Journal of Sports Marketing & Sponsorship


Introduction

One per cent per year--the overall US market share growth goal recently stated by New Balance CEO Jim Davis (Steven David, Product Marketing Manager, New Balance, personal interview, August 18, 1998). Such a goal would be quite modest for one of its larger publicly owned competitors. But for New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc, a privately-owned manufacturer in the highly-competitive athletic footwear industry, this represents a significant brand management challenge. No longer can the company be content to serve its loyal base of "baby boomers" (40- to 55-year-olds), it now must court "Generation X" (25- to 35-year-olds).

This study illustrates the brand management efforts of a niche specialist, New Balance Athletic Shoe, Inc. Based in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, New Balance is a privately-held corporation whose 1998 estimated revenues of $550 million amounted to less than industry leader Nike spent on advertising in that year. While particular interest is paid to the branding efforts of New Balance, its efforts are analyzed in comparison to those of the three market leaders, publicly-owned corporations Nike, Reebok, and Adidas.

This case study is comprised of five sections. The first section provides a brief overview of brand theory. The second section highlights the current status and trends of the athletic footwear industry in the United States. Using brand theory, the third section presents a summary of the brand management practices of Nike, Reebok, and Adidas. Based on this analysis, the fourth section provides a detailed account of how New Balance manages its brand to differentiate itself from its competitors. The case study concludes by offering conclusions about the brand management efforts of a niche specialist in a fiercely competitive industry. While derived from the athletic footwear industry, these conclusions are also salient for the broader sporting goods industry.

An Overview of Brand Management

The effort to create and manage brands is a practice widely studied by marketers throughout the world. Keller (1998) defines a "brand" as a name or symbol attached to a product that allows for differentiation from similar product offerings. For example, both the Nike name and the ubiquitous swoosh logo are components of the overall Nike brand. The goal of brand management is to continually build on the strength associated with a brand, thus developing brand strength, or equity. The set of assets (both positive and negative) that consumers attach to a particular brand constitute "brand equity" (Aaker, 1991).

Many researchers have undertaken efforts to dissect brand equity into different components and dimensions. Perhaps the most widely-accepted model for understanding brand equity was presented by Aaker (1991), who suggested brand equity is comprised of five components:

1) Brand awareness

2) Perceived quality

3) Brand loyalty

4) Brand associations

5) Other proprietary brand assets

The remainder of this section will focus on describing these five components as a basis for analysis of brand management practices in the athletic footwear industry.

Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is the starting point in the development of brand equity. It represents the consumer's ability to recall a brand name when given a product category (Aaker, 1991). For example, when a person is asked to name a brand of basketball shoes, they are more likely to mention Nike, Reebok, Converse or Adidas than they are to name LA Gear or Spalding.

According to Keller (1998), brand awareness is important to brand strategy for three reasons. First, awareness of the brand ensures the brand enters the consumer's consideration set when looking to make a purchase. Second, brand awareness can affect choices within the consideration set. If one brand has a larger presence through advertising, it may be considered more favorably. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

The Brand Management Efforts of a Niche Specialist: New Balance in the Athletic Footwear Industry
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.