Levi's Dockers Marketing

Levi's Dockers Marketing

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Dockers: Creating a Sub-brand Report

1. How would you characterize Levi´s branding strategy in general?

Levi’s is a brand recognizable in the whole wide world. There is no person who wouldn’t be able to associate correctly the Name with the product. LS&Co has managed to create something timeless, just like their classical 501 blue jeans.
Although their branding message was changing slightly during the time, they kept core values and traditions untouched. Comfort, uniqueness, quality and emotional impact – these were always the main associations with the brand. However, other features were being emphasized as time was going by.
First connotations were simple: "jeans are tough and rugged as men who wear them". This image of a 100% man was even strengthened after western movies appeared. Soon jeans, and so Levi’s brand which in people’s mind turned to be their synonymous, became a symbol of freedom, adventure and independence. In this moment, managers of LS&Co decided to expand the brand. Even though there where various new cloths introduced to the market ; 501 jeans remained their top-selling product. It was their new brand strategy to "offer products for every life style", which turned to be a fiasco. Not only it didn’t bring expected results, what is more, this to big diversification caused drops in sales. It was so decided to come back to the core product and it’s image. To strengthen the Levi’s position on a market, their launched a new campaign which emphasizes emotional connection between jeans and theirs owner. To wear 501 it is to be yourself – they said.
Company also took the advantage of changes that started to appear according to the dress code at work place. In that times company accentuated 100% cotton in Levi’s jeans, as “baby boomer” who grew up were seeking for natural fibers.
Now Levi’s brand is supposed to be seen as “a style for every story” – again emotional impact emphasized. But as we can see, although they stressed different features in different periods of time, LS&Co maintained core values which they stuck in people’s mind – quality, comfort, uniqueness and emotional impact.

2. Analyze the Dockers´communication strategy at the time of the launch.
How did it fit in with Levi´s advertising efforts?
How did it contribute to brand equity?

Dokers brand was introduced by Levi’s to contrast the change that was happening to blue jeans buyers.

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In fact, customer who were teenagers in the 50’s were becoming a target of about 25-49 years old and they were moving out of the jeans market. So Dokers brand was born to satisfy those buyers with a new product, which utilized the comfort and casual feel of cotton; The response from consumers was so good that it made Dokers become a billion-dollar brand by 1993.
Subsequently young consumer took distance from Dokers jeans because they started to see them like “their fathers wore”, so Levi’s developed new advertising campaigns and introduced new Dokers sub-brands.
LS&Co wanted to give Dokers an image of comfortable and relaxing pants, an alternative to traditional dressing for almost every occasion by an advertising challenge.
This new image had to be related to Levi’s image, giving an advantage to all the company, not only to Dokers. Moreover, managers wanted to keep in mind of people the connection between Dokers and Levi’s brands - consumers had to know that a Dokers pant was produced by Levi’s and that they had the same features, the same quality.
In the summer of 1993 Levi’s unveiled its Dokers Authentics brand, in the hope of attracting a younger and more style-conscious type of customer. It gave a refreshment to the old brand by a new label with more style.
The launch of Dokers Wrinkle-Free signed a turning-point for the company supported by a $40 million advertising campaign attended later by another campaign called: “Nice Pants”.It differed from the usual image that Levi’s wanted to give to their consumers, based only on the quality of the product, expressed by images of miners at work.
The new television spot showed a new image of a man, turning up his sexappeal: the scene showed a woman admiring the spot man’s pant and telling aloud: “Nice Pants”.
Those campaigns contributed to the ascent of Dokers calculated by 10 and 15 % respectively in 1995 and in 1996, and by 1997 Dokers represented 80 % of all men’s casual pants sold at the chain.
The big part of Dokers consumers came from metropolitan areas, and LS&Co knew this. It is why they decided to start the “urban networking” program: Dokers sponsored parties, dinners, social and cultural events in urban centers across the country. This was an advantage for the whole company, because Dokers was becoming a desired brand among the urban “critical influencers”, and as a consequence it was increasing the brand equity across a different segment of consumers.

3. How would you characterize the Dockers brand image?
What makes up its brand equity?

When LS&Co had to choose brand elements for the new line to get strongly back in the market, it paid a lot of attention to the logo and the name because the aim to gain again the „baby boomers“ interess was not so easy.
They finally decided for Dockers, the name of a particoular type of Levi‘s pants sold in Japan and Argentina. There this name hadn‘t much success between the young public. The full name was Levi‘s Docker Pants, too long for American costumers. So they had to short it into Docker but adding the „‘s“ to remember to connection to the core values of the Levi‘s.
At the end, this name seemed to the all staff very appropriate for it‘s nautical connotation and mostly because of its neutral apparence meaning that could have been fullfilled as an empty box with lots of imagines that would have been brought by medias and advertising campains.
About the logo which was present on every back pocket of the jeans, they changed it from the japan and argentina‘s one (wings and anchors) because they wanted to give a precise message.
To increase the link with the Levi‘s brand they put its monker into the image, to give all the old values and core points it has transmitted during the years also to this new line. We can say that this choise preserved the previous brand equity; then, to rise it more it was created an image to capture the segment of market they wanted to conquer at the beginning: from 25 to 49 years old. The logo represented a very elegant man helping a woman ledding off a ship but whose attention was captured by a young man casually dressed on the dock. In this case the company want to get leader also in a non teenager market where they want to impose casual clothing as best attractive looking.
So they tried to move the brand equity they had with old Levi‘s into this new line. But we can see that this attempt to get lots of similar core points in both the lines hasn‘t been paid back because after the big boom of the first years, teenager began to think another time that their jeans where to conceptually close to the ones their father had in the closet.
Although their aim to keep the „brand soul“ of the Levi Strauss in each territories around the globe has been reached with a positive payback, the results obtained in doing this trought different brands were various. The heart of the problem is that the knowledge of the company was already very high at that time and it wasn‘t necessary to transfer all the brand equity to the new line even because their goal was at first to create a brand totally distant from the others segments: this was the main problem they wanted to solve with Dockers.
In the end we think that their attachment to past results and the few trust they had in trying to diversify more the two lines is the reason why they had found themselves facing with the same problems a few years later.

4. Describe some of the changes in the Dockers marketing strategy from its debut. Has LS&Co. maintained a consistent enough message?
Are they well-positioned to maintain their strong leadership status in the coming years?

One of the marketing goals of Dockers was to increase the percentage of marketshare from 28% to 34% of the total bottom bussiness. This should be reached by distributing the Dockers in department stores and chains where the majority of 24-49 years old men do their shopping. Dockers courted retailers with extensive presentation, sell-in brochures and swatch books. In addition they financed high image department stores for advertising and other promotional activities.
So Dockers focused a lot on placing their product creating an authentic in store concept shop for the men`s department to create a freindly and accessible environment and make the trial as easy as possible.
The comunication strategy at the beginning of Dockers was based on their timelessness, sociability, high quality (wit the references to the Levi`s) and a classic, not high-fashioned way to wear.
In 1993 dockers created a new label called Dockers Authentics in order to get more interesting for younger and especially more style conscious people. The Dockers envolved themself with going in the wrinkle free competition even with delay. With the slogans "Don`t just get dressed. Get Dockers!" and "Nice Pants" they wanted to tell that Dockers is a “must have” label and they aim also at the sexappeal of their potential costumers. As seen they changed their comunication strategy from classic and timeless into “must have” and sexy.
Dockers got also into the Khaki market, liked especially from young costumers (Dockers Khaki). The new Dockers Khakis`campaign was a series of slick and sexy television commercials that were in complete contrast to original Dickers comunication message.
At the beginning of new millenium they created some new brands (Dockers Recode), emphasized on materials, went into the e-commerce an did some other markeitng actions.
Dockers did a lot in this years and in such a dynamic market as clothes. The market imposes you that. But maybe the message was often changed too jumped because they overslept some market developments (wrinklefree, khaki). So they loose a little bit of their origin fascination.
Even if it seems that Dockers wasn‘t well positioned in many occasions during the years it still lasts. In the past we have seen some brands came into vogue after some years of decline (decreases of sales) with some vintage clothes, with a new image or simply with a felicitous collection. Others brands just turn into new ones, get sold to another company or fail.
These things happen, especially in the market clothes which is at the mercy of trends. So we deduce from all these elements that there is a high probabilty that this brand will be able to face its challenges also in the future.
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