Sam Martin comes from the consumer packaged goods business where one percentage point of market share can take a month of detailed marketing planning for millions of dollars in sales and gallons of sweat equity. Imagine the opportunity he now sees in a market that only has 56 percent product penetration.
As Timex Senior Brand Manager, Sports at Timex, that’s where Martin finds himself and his product line at one of the world’s oldest and most iconic American brands. Prior to Timex, he was a Brand Manager at Sun Products Corporation. One of his first initiatives when he started at the brand last fall was to find out exactly what the opportunity was for Timex, as well as his competitors in the world of high-end timekeeping for athletes. Those competitors: Garmin, Nike, Adidas and many other smaller high-end companies. The opportunity: 54 percent of all the athletes Timex surveyed did not wear a watch when they worked out or competed in a race.
“The brand had a very strong perception among runners,” Martin says. “It is a strong lifestyle brand and very well connected to the Ironman challenge. We knew with the market opportunity so wide open that this was a matter of getting watches on wrists. We knew we had many products that could fit the bill from $20 to $300. We needed to connect with the athlete that would decide he or she needed a watch to train. We wanted to position a watch to be just as essential as the shoes.”
Martin and his team knew they needed to connect with serious athletes and it set out on an ambitious campaign to do it. The Boston Marathon of 2013 will remembered for things other than running. However, Timex effectively used the event as an anchor for launch of “I Am A Runner.” The goal was to tell the brand story by connecting with runner’s stories. It kicked off with a series of media activities in New York City featuring Boston Marathon legend, Dick Hoyt . Hoyt, a longtime Timex ambassador, has competed in more than 1,000 endurance events along with his son, Rick, who suffers from cerebral palsy. Timex created an “I Am A Runner” Facebook app, which will collect all runners’ stories and will serve as a centralized host for submitted content and photos. Individuals who share their stories via the hashtag #IMARUNNER are eligible for opportunities to win Timex IRONMAN watches.
“Part of the attraction to the social strategy is that runners stories are so incredible that it translates to incredible content,” says Martin. “These people have kids, jobs and sometime handicaps. Most of them have no shot at winning the event they’re in and their really competing against themselves.”
Hard metrics from the campaign are not yet available. The “I Am A Runner” campaign is entering its second phase. Timex is a sponsor of the New York Marathon in November and the original Ironman triathlon in Kona Hawaii on October 13. More digital media, niche print and nice TV will be rolled out in the fall. Martin has the relative luxury of a wide open market, and is leveraging the brand equity of Timex. One of the things that he shares with his peers is awareness that sales and retail feedback are as important to this type of campaign as social media engagement.
“We have had great feedback from the retail community,” he says. “The overall brand has a nice halo effect for us, yet we’ve been able to step out and get an identity for Timex Sports. It’s a great category. After all, it’s 50 percent smaller than it should be. There’s a lot of room to grow.”