AND1 Ready For Legendary Comeback
Lance Stephenson is the first of several NBA players And1 plans to sign to help relaunch the brand.
Of countless new brands that enter the sports apparel market, a small number go on to achieve consumer success and even fewer are able to transcend popularity to become part of the lexicon of the sport they focus on. Basketball apparel company And1 is counted among those few, and the brand has positioned itself to make a legendary comeback.
Entering its 20th year in business, the words “And 1” have become as synonymous with the game of basketball as Xerox has with making copies. Although selling substantially less product than juggernaut competitors Nike and Adidas, And1 has firmly rooted itself into the American hoops culture in a way that those companies wish they could. While the brand’s retail popularity has dropped considerably in the past decade due to previous mismanagement, New York based Galaxy Brands is ready to bring back And1 to the forefront of the basketball clothing and shoe market.
“The brand grew too fast for its own good,” said Douglas Spitzer, Partner at Catch New York, the marketing agency helping Galaxy (AmeriCo Group) in And1’s relaunch. “After the original owners sold the brand, the next groups lost the ability to control the brand and to keep to the core of what it was all about. They tried to fill shelf space instead of properly investing in design. They started to imitate rather than innovate,” he adds.
Some of the partners that make up Galaxy Brand have been a licensee of And1 since the brands inception in 1993 and its long-term connection gave it firsthand insight into its capabilities, especially if a company with Galaxy’s market know-how and experience made a proper investment into its promotion. Galaxy finally decided to purchase And1, which is on retail shelves in over 25 countries, outright last year after it discovered some surprising results during a market research study on the brands awareness among young consumers.
“We looked at kids and young adults in the 14-18 and 19-24 demo. Most of them didn’t grow up in the heyday of And1, never got real exposure to the Mix Tape Tour, yet they associated with the brand incredibly well,” said Maurice Levy, now And1′s Marketing Director, adding, “That made us realize that there was still a great deal of life in the [And1] name.”
Galaxy plans to bring back the wildly successful And1 Live (Mixtape) Tour that helped propel it to the top of the basketball apparel market in the 1990’s.
While mistakes were made by previous owners, Galaxy also realizes that many of the marketing platforms used in the past, such as the And1 Live Tour (better known as the Mixtape Tour), helped skyrocket the brand to its position as the largest grassroots basketball apparel company in the world during the late ’1990′s. Galaxy plans to bring back the tour, which slowed significantly in the states in 2009, and use it as a key marketing vehicle to showcase its new line of shoes and apparel. The company has also signed Indiana Pacers Guard Lance Stephenson as the first endorser of its new line and plans on bringing on 4 or 5 additional players over the course of 2013.
“We’re looking for players that embody the ‘Never give up;never settle; there’s always a next step’ mantra that needs to be apart of the And1 brand,” says Spitzer.
And1 believes Stephenson, who grew up in New York and played at Brooklyn’s Lincoln High School, is just such a player. After struggling in the league his first two seasons, with character concerns causing doubts about his ability to succeed, Stephenson quieted critics when he stepped into a starting role after shooting guard Danny Granger went down with an injury this season. Now And1 has tasked Stephenson with helping lead the resurgence of the brand.
Galaxy realizes that it has an uphill battle if it hopes to bring back the And1 line to its position as one of the top basketball brands in the world. Yet the company believes that its ability to manufacture high quality materials at lower costs will allow it to offer a better overall product at cheaper prices than its more firmly entrenched competitors.
“We know that other brands like Nike and Adidas have most of the shelf space at major retailers, but even if we can steal a small percentage of that away from them, that’s going to be a big win for not only us, but for consumers looking for an alternative,” explains Levy.
Whether And1 is capable of reaching its former status among the basketball apparel elite remains to be seen, but as the recent rise of Under Armour has shown, there is always room in the market for more quality product.
For And1, the greatest comeback tour of all-time begins now.