by Adam Stanley, Flagstick Contributor
When you think of ECCO, what do you think of?
If you’re like many North Americans, the images conjured up when envisioning the brand isn’t typically of high fashion and vibrant colours.
Fly around the world to Asia, though, and it’s deemed haute-couture.
Our European friends? Think of it as old-school.
ECCO has a grey-haired Fred Couples as its figurehead, but is attempting to break into the youth market.
Its best sellers are white and grey shoes, but it continues to pursue youthful colours.
ECCO is synonymous with many things: passion, quality, and timeless elegance. However, despite successful sales in Canada and abroad, and a product that remains the envy of many players in the golf shoe market, ECCO is struggling with its brand identity.
This isn’t to say that the sales aren’t there, in fact, ECCO is the ninth-ranked shoe company in Canada (all shoes, not just golf) by sales, and has sold 350 million pairs of shoes since it’s inception in 1963.
With the brand turning 50 next April, there is no time like the present for a brand revolution, and ECCO attempts to do this through its 2013 lineup.
This revolution began in April of 2010, with Couples wearing a hybrid shoe by ECCO (a golf shoe with no spikes, but instead a rubber tread on the bottom. Spikeless is a dirty word in ECCO terms) and contending for the lead after the first day.
The new look, non-traditional shoes, has continued to thrive from a sales and consumer reception perspective. The recent release of its new lineup of shoes shows the company is putting a heavy focus on hybrid styling, classic colours, and superior materials.
There are three shoe lineups for men – the BIOM hybrid, the BIOM golf, and the new Tour Hybrid – and three for ladies – also a BIOM hybrid, a BIOM golf, and Classic Hybrid – to compliment the existing Golf Street lineup and World Class GTX lineup.
All shoes are available in a variety of existing and new colours, as mentioned, but based on preliminary orders, it appears that the classic whites, blacks, and greys will once again be the most successful.
With an arsenal of technological research & development going into golf shoes these days, it was refreshing to hear Ecco go almost back-to-basics with its approach: quality leather, a high-technology waterproofing process, and extreme-comfort.
Simple, yet effective.
ECCO continues to use cowhide leather in some shoes, but the street shoes feature intriguing camel hide leather. The soft yak hide, though, is ECCO’s main differentiator. Because of the yak’s natural living environment, it has a very unique and individual look that differs from hide to hide, and this is evident in the shoes. It’s a very strong leather, but with its light weight, and high breathability, ECCO has found new use for it in its performance golf shoes.
The newest release, the Tour Hybrid, is indeed the standout of the 2013 collection. A classic shoe available in three traditional colours – black, white, and brown – The Tour Hybrid is set to continue the theme of justified performance out of a non-spike shoe that Fred Couples started at The Masters two years ago.
It’s a versatile wingtip shoe that ideally, according to Ecco, could be worn from the office, to the golf course, to the bar after the round and is chalk full of the technological advances and high-quality materials that Ecco stakes its reputation on.
It’s evident in the product, in the streamlined price points, and in the belief of non-sponsored tour pros wearing ECCO’s shoes purely because they feel they are the best option, that ECCO is going through a simplified revolution.
The revolution will be televised – ECCO continues to build a strong marketing community in social media, via targeted sponsorships, and with grass-root club sales – but there needs to be one brand vision behind what ECO is all about.
The product is very solid, as made evident by the release of the 2013 shoes, and hopefully ECCO will remain true to its mantra, “we want to be the best shoe company in the world,” moving forward.
The 2013 collection will be worn in competition by the likes of the aforementioned Couples, Graeme MacDowell, Thomas Bjorn, and Thorbjorn Oleson, to name a few. ECCO shows no slowly down with respect to the kinds of star-power it can attract to wear it’s product.
Despite the brand challenges, and the attempts at finding its place in the crowded shoe landscape, ECCO continues to do what ECCO does best: create shoes that let the quality speak for itself.
The new collection of Ecco golf shoes will begin to ship to Canadian retail outlets in late-winter, 2013. The suggested retail prices are: World Class GTX $495, BIOM Golf $300, Tour Hybrids $240, Golf Street Luxe $220, Golf Street Premiere $190. All ladies shoes are $10 less per pair, save for the World Class GTX (not available in ladies).
Adam Stanley is a graduate of the Carleton University Journalism Program, a Digital media Specialist for a Major Corporation, and a regular contributor to Flagstick.com. He maintains a personal Blog “Adam’s Touch”here.