We caught up with Ian Martin, Ecco Golf’s UK Sales Manager to find out where the brand are at in 2018.
How are Ecco different to other golf shoe brands?
Ecco is unique in that we own our own tanneries and factories, meaning we control the whole process from the cow to the shoe which allows us to have total control over the quality of our products. We don’t make shoes for anyone else and our shoes aren’t made in other company factories which enables complete consistency in terms of the quality of both the materials and the construction. Ecco is also known for premium comfort which is so important during, what can often be, a long game of golf. This is highlighted by our proprietary Biom Natural Motion technology which essentially encourages the foot to move in a more natural way, and is something that many of our shoes feature. We’ve often found that Ecco customers will have two or more pairs due to the assured comfort they know they are getting; I’m proud to say we’ve built up a very healthy level of trust with those that have tried our products.
How was 2017 for the brand? And what are you going to do differently in 2018?
2017 was a year of stability for Ecco Golf following growth over the previous years. We identified a need to introduce fresh models and technology into the range as some customers and retailers who have supported Ecco Golf were now looking for something new. To this, we launched our most technological shoe, Ecco Cool, and have added the Biom Hybrid 3 and Ecco Cool Pro in 2018. There is a focus from Ecco Golf this year on interaction and we have some fantastic influencers spreading the word through the many social media channels available. And we will continue to listen to our customers and retailers going forward to make sure we maintain our position in what is a very competitive golf shoe category.
Are the biggest selling models the same across different regions, or do different models have a bigger impact in different markets?
Currently, our most popular styles, such as the recently launched Ecco Biom Hybrid 3, are successful all over the world. This is largely due to the technology, our commitment to working only with premium materials, the incredible comfort and the esteemed reputation that the Biom name carries. As with any range, there are some styles which do sell better in different markets due to differing climates. In northern Europe, for example, black cleated models are big favourites whereas our southern markets have more success with the casual, lightweight styles.
Every new shoe in your collections features GORE-TEX. This has never been done before, tell us what the thinking behind that move was?
GORE-TEX is such a fantastic product with such a strong reputation in golf that we were really keen to have it in all our performance SS18 and AW18 models. We’re proud to have such a strong relationship with them and to be able to offer UK golfers such an array of style with GORETEX is exciting.
It obviously has cost implications. Does that mean you no longer have an entry level shoe?
Our entry level shoe is the Ecco Street Retro – it’s a staple model and has been around for a long time. We decided not to include GORE-TEX in this product as it is aimed for the relaxed game of golf on a dry sunny day. This obviously helps keep the production cost down meaning a lower price to retailer and consumer.
What are Ecco doing to help their retailers?
We have invested a lot of resources over the last 12 months in helping the retailers with more in-store and on-line marketing tools to drive customer awareness and interest. Our team of dedicated sales agents are now working closer with our accounts on sales promotions and customer competitions to help the retailer sell the product through.
And if a retailer doesn’t currently stock Ecco why should they in the future?
Ecco is an aspirational brand offering premium products with high margin returns. We work with our accounts by offering low minimum pre-book levels and a live 24-hours-a-day on-line ordering system which shows current stock levels, trade price and further information. We have listened, and are continuing to listen, to what our retailers need and we’re committed to continuously improve and evolve the support we offer.
Do you think by not trying to compete with other brands at low price points it helps strengthens the brands position?
Our position in the golf shoe category as the premium choice is something we are very proud of and will continue to uphold. We pride ourselves on the quality of our golf shoes and will not compromise on any step of the process to produce a shoe to meet a price point.
How does Ecco grow as a golf brand going forwards?
Ecco will continue to produce premium products using the finest materials and we are committed to driving consumer awareness and desire in the brand. We remain focused on working with our retailers to help them sell more product and are exploring the many channels available to do this. GR