Skateboarding is a sport that has been through its fair share of trends and popularity since the 80's. Currently I am 20 years old and have skateboarding 10 years. If there is one thing I have learned about the sport in that time it is that there is two sides to the industry. There is the shop side, supported by local skateshops run by skateboarders who have been involved in the skateboarding subculture since its inception; and there is the corporate side, where the corporations try to get into the industry to turn a profit. The subculture is the perhaps the best part of skateboarding for anyone who actually gets involved in it. However, in recent years the subculture seemed to be fading because the corporations were far likelier to stay in business as the recession kicked in, despite the fact that skateboarding has evolved into a billion dollar industry.
Two famous professional skateboarders, Eric Koston and Steve Berra bought a warehouse in LA and created their own skatepark in it, which they named The Berrics. Along with this they started a website www.theberrics.com, to create a sort of online mecca for fellow skateboard enthusiasts to watch footage from the website and connect with each other. In 2 short years this website has become the most popular skateboard site on the internet and is the hub for the skateboarding subculture. The best part is that Steve Berra is a philanthropist and has done everything in his power through the website to keep the subculture alive. Here enters the Berrics Unified and Marketing Mix.
In the book Kotler describes marketing mix as the set of controllable, tactical marketing tools that the firm blends to produce the response it wants in the target market. This mix is broken down into Product, Price, Promotion, and Place. Berra decided to implement this mix with the best target market skateboarding has to offer, the die hard skateboarders.
The Berrics Unified is specialty program accessible from the main website that has tied together all of the local skateshops based on the 48 mainland states in the US. You can click on a state or enter your zip code and find out the local skateshops nearest you, assuming they are part of the Unified. These are the shops that struggle to stay open and are run by skateboarders, for skateboarders. However, the Unified goes beyond this because many of the skateboard companies that produce industry products are run by skateboarders and these companies have gotten involved and are pushing the Unified to continue to thrive by offering exclusive products to Unified shops, and cutting them deals that the corporate retailers like Zumiez do not get.
The Unified has essentially become one of the most important promotional tools in the skateboarding industry. It links skateboarders to all of the right people and businesses who have made the sport into what it is. It provides a trustworthy place where skaters (who have the highest customer retention of any target market in the industry) can get products they know will be good for skating because many of the shops will not even carry a product if they know it won't be good for skating. Furthermore, these products are at affordable prices since the shops are trying to stay afloat, while helping the skateboarding community. As a loyal skateboarder who has been positively influenced by the sport for half my life and has used the Unified since I am not originally from Seattle, I can vouch that it is a great tool because it connected me directly to the nearest local skateshop, 35th North.
Chas Pearson, MKT 301 G