Western & English Today

FALL 2015

W&E Today provides retailers and manufacturers with education and ideas that provoke innovation in the Western and English markets.

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36 Western & English Today FALL 2015 "They say these riding jeans have incredible fit and feel bet- ter than anything you've ever had on," he says. "They go out on the town for ages 21 to the upper 50s." The jeans are known for their detailed embellishment, and he's also adding more con- servative designs with less bling. The new line has compatible add-ons that include Merino wool socks, plus belts, knit hats, tops, and a denim vest and jacket. For 2kGrey, he's hosting a "Spread the Love" online contest for consumers to choose their favorite product—and favorite tack shop—to win a pair of breeches and pick them up close to home. His website features "training tools" from experts, and he publishes "The Insider," a newsletter with more take-away tips and the latest products, along with specials. He sends his news via email to 1,800 customers, and he mails 2,000 hard copies. "With social media, it's a 24/7 job to launch a new brand," Mitton says. "With so much competition, you either bring something unique to the marketplace, or you stay at home." REACHING OUT FOR INPUT Kerrits has also reaped the extensive benefits of reaching out beyond company doors. "Kerrits Ambassadors around the world live the life Kerrits clothes were made for," says the company's website. Fans of the brand can sign up to become an ambassador by answering a few simple questions and post- ing photos of themselves wearing their favorite riding apparel. "Ambassadors are passionate about Kerrits, and they don't tend to have such busy competition schedules," says com- pany founder Kerri Kent. She's passionate about widening her sphere of influence by collaborating with the people who love her products. "They talk about their horses, and the things they like and don't like about products—we use that for feedback." Kent sends products to ambassadors to test drive, then offers discounts for their invaluable thoughts. "We use their input as much as that from our team riders," she says. Then she and her design team evaluate and compile those consumer opinions as they finalize specs for a particular Kerrits item. Once it's available, the serious marketing begins. "We want customers to experience a direct correlation, like 'I can see that this relates to me, and I want it now,'" Kent says. "People want immediate gratification. They don't want to hear about something six months from now." Her long list of sponsored riders also weighs in from a more finite and technical standpoint. "They might tell us, 'This is super comfortable,' or 'It felt hot,' or 'It's not as flattering,'" she says. The company's Facebook page, with 34,000 Likes, "has been really awesome for us," Kent says. "Our customers seem to relate best to Facebook, but we also do Instagram—where more of the younger customers are—and Twitter." A quick glance at Kerrits' Facebook page shows clear, attention-grabbing photos of sponsored riders wearing Kerrits in the ring and on course, or just getting ready. Kent doesn't just collaborate from afar; she engages in person and then online. The company sponsored Rebecca Farm's July event, where a Kerrits jump welcomed riders in the competition's "big ring" and was prominently featured on the company's Facebook page. One thing Kent and her compatriots know for sure: If you do it (well), you should share it. And if you build it and influencers wear it, their followers will come. We don't ask our sponsored riders to push product at customers. We do like for them to post when they've been at an event—and share how they did—and they also post a couple of videos on YouTube each year. Fans of the brand can sign up to become an ambassador by answering a few simple questions and posting photos of themselves wearing their favorite riding apparel.

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