Friday, September 2, 2011

Innovators Lead. Imitators Follow.

In a market place filled with millions of products competing for limited consumer dollars, how does a brand differentiate itself from the pack?

Product innovation doesn’t mean you need to come up with something new, just simply improve on an existing product or customise it to fit demand. That’s exactly what Levi’s have done with the Commuter jean. The tidal wave of moustache clad, skinny jean wearing, boutique coffee toting hipsters peddling around our cities on their beloved fixies hasn’t gone unnoticed by the father of denim.

The recently released jean is part of a series of new products “designed and optimised specifically for the needs of the urban commuter cyclist.” Based around the 511 Skinny Jean it’s made from performance stretch fabric for more give during riding and reinforced to improve durability and reduce the chance of any embarrassing rips when swinging a leg over (the bike that is!). It’s been ‘Scotch Sanitised’ (what a great ragtrade trademark) to provide protection against  nasty body odours.

The best feature in my opinion is the reflective tape on the interior cuffs of the jeans which when rolled up offer high visibility in the dark. The utility waist band has been especially designed to hang a u-lock. Levi's® SVP of Men's Merchandising & Design, Erik Joule, sums up the rationale for the new line - "this product was born from innovation and classic American style - it's about designing product for people who ride bikes, by people who ride bikes. We knew that our jeans were already being worn by urban cyclists across the country. We listened to what they wanted and created a product with performance traits for biking that also functions as daily street wear."

In a nutshell, here is a brand that knows it’s customers well enough to be one step ahead and be telling them what they need. A well conceived advertising campaign also helps.

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