By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
New York – BOOM, the fledgling DEI-owned lifestyle brand targeted to active-lifestyle youth, plans to expand its personal-audio assortment, expand its CE-channel distribution, and begin selling through lifestyle stores in 2013 to build on its growth through college bookstores, founder Ryan Minarik told TWICE today.
The brand name, which stands for Born On Original Motives, is targeted to 14- to 28-year-olds who “embrace the unique,” enjoy active lifestyles, and live “non-linear” days “filled with unpredictable events,” said Minarik, the son of DEI chairman Jim Minarik.
For now, the brand is focused on headphones and AC/DC Bluetooth speakers, reflecting the target customer’s on-the- go lifestyle even at home, he said. People in their 20s “prefer portable and personal products,” added Mike DiTullo, DEI Holdings chief design officer. They take Bluetooth speakers with them as they go in and out of the house, use Bluetooth speakers to listen to movies playing on a tablet, and take water-resistant speakers with them to the shower, particularly if they live on a college campus, he said.
The brand is positioned as a “youth-culture brand that happens to make personal audio” rather than as a consumer electronics brand, DiTullo noted, because young people view headphones and Bluetooth speakers less as a CE category “and more as an accessory to complement their lifestyle.”
For that reason, the company’s first Bluetooth speaker, the $149-suggested stereo Urchin, comes with a removable silicone cover with a built-in loop for use with an included backpack or belt carabineer, with a supplied suction-cup mount for use in a shower, and with an adhesive mount for in-car use. The Urchin, shipping in February, also comes with an optional bike-mount accessory.
Also to complement active lifestyles, the speaker is ruggedized for shock resistance, thanks to the silicone cover, stainless-steel speaker grille, and other features. The silicone cover is available in multiple colors.
The Urchin’s round shape is also designed for the company’s target customers. The products have to match the styling of the customer’s back pack or clothes rather than a home stereo system, which they don’t likely own, said DiTullo. “You can’t make it [a Bluetooth speaker] look like a box with buttons and a speaker grille,” he said.
The Urchin and other planned products were designed based on ethnographic research that includes hanging out with customers to uncover their needs first hand, DiTullo noted. In effect, the products “are developed with them,” enabling the brand “to be authentic,” he said.
A lot of companies target this age group but “are selling at them,” DiTullo noted. “We’re building the product with them.”
Another new product shipping in February is the $39-suggested Spooners ear buds, designed for skateboarders and sports athletes who prefer ear buds that nest in the ear rather than in-ear headphones that seal off the ear canal, preventing them from hearing what’s going on around them as they engage in their outdoor activity. For these users, the Spooners are water- and shock-resistant, hold up to abuse when stuffed in pockets, and feature in-line all-silicon three-button iPod/iPhone controls. The Spooners will also be available in multiple colors.
Two more new products will be unveiled at January’s International CES, joining the current selection of four headphones priced from a suggested $19 to $49.
BOOM is pricing its products to match the disposable income of its target audience, Minarik said.
As it expands its product selection, BOOM is also expanding distribution, stepping up promotion, and developing dealer support materials and programs.
The brand launched sales initially through college campuses in 2010 on a limited basis, ramped up to college bookstores on about 200 campuses by early 2012, and is now selling into 400 campuses, Minarik said. The brand also opened up sales through Fry’s in October 2011, Nebraska Furniture Mart in early 2012, and Brands Mart in recent months.
In 2013, the brand plans to expand into additional CE outlets as well as to lifestyle stores reaching the brand’s audience, said Minarik, Targeted outlets include bike shops, skate shops, surf shops, and others.
To help these dealers sell the products through, the brand has developed a POP program that includes freestanding displays and Urchin-specific displays. MDF is also available.
To help the dealers sell through, BOOM has already built a social-media presence via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and this week will launch an outreach program with Social Chorus, which has developed a database of millions of bloggers who will get access to BOOM-provided content.
The brand has already established a rep network to reach many of these dealers but is still adding reps, he said. BOOM will also sell direct to large accounts.
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