In a rollout from sea to sea, treadmills, ellipticals and an indoor cycle branded with the well-known bright yellow of Lance Armstrong's Livestrong movement have hit the deck at Dick's Sporting Goods.
Under license with Johnson Health Tech NA, the equipment line, shown at www.livestrongfitness.com, has been "endorsed by Lance Armstrong," with a powerful endorsement logo showing Armstrong's face with his focused, don't-mess-with-me look he's known for in bike races.
A full-page ad debuted in Dick's advertisements in the last week, and a million of Dick's frequent buyers (members of its "Scorecard" program) received special promotions about the launch that included a personal message from and signed by Armstrong:
"I'm excited to introduce a new line of Livestrong fitness equipment where every piece sold raises money for the fight against cancer," he wrote in the statement. "Our team has put countless hours of development into making these products worthy of the Livestrong name, and I am proud of this partnership."
Who could ask for better promotion? Or a more globally recognized brand name?
"We could not have picked a better brand," said Mike Olson, Johnson's vice president for sporting goods and mass merchandisers. "Livestrong is extremely powerful. Consumers value it, and are willing to pay for it."
In addition, the company and Dick's don't have to compete with other brands on price and any changes in price based on market fluctuations or consumer demand, he added. And it took nearly no big sell to convince Dick's executives of the value.
Going beyond Dick's
Olson said Dick's has the exclusive global rights to treadmills (MSRPs, $800 to $1,700) and ellipticals ($800 to $1,300), not accessories, for the home market, but Johnson will be able to take the indoor cycle ($1,000) to specialty retail.
Livestrong equipment won't stop at those doors, however. Olson said his team expects to unveil commercial and light commercial levels of products at the IHRSA show in 2010, and that will likely include an indoor cycling program, he said.
Strength-training equipment remains an option, he said, but is not currently in development.
What sets the equipment apart is the aesthetic and the cause since for the rollout the line includes most of the features of Johnson's current Horizon products including the eTrack journal (called LiveTrack), MaxComfort cushioning system and iPod docking stations. That doesn't mean product updates or new lines won't include different applications, social networking or programs that more closely connect a user to the Livestrong foundation, store and programs.
The Livestrong name and foundation (www.livestrong.org) has grown beyond the cause of supporting research to find a cure for cancer, Olson said. Now it's also about passion, living life to the fullest and empowerment, and it embraces all ages, genders, nationalities and people.
"It's so widespread. It's men. It's women. It's young people. It's old people. Everybody knows somebody or is themselves a survivor," he said.
Aesthetics and the cause
Armstrong himself was involved from the start in the development as well as in the design and aesthetic, Olson said.
"It shows extremely well," he added. "It bridges the gap between traditional sporting goods product and specialty product."
The company has committed to donating $4 million from product sales over the life of a multi-year contract, although officials decline to say exactly how or when that will be met or if there is a particular percent or amount from each product's sale.
All of the products, except one of the four treadmills, are now on floors at all 420 Dick's stores. The product itself is on a website maintained by Johnson, and Dick's links to that website.
SNEWS® View: WOW. We're not sure there is a better brand that is more universally known in today's times than the bright canary yellow of Livestrong and Lance Armstrong's chiseled, fit face to go with it. Indeed, as long as the prices are within a stone's throw of other comparable items it will be the cause and the passion for that cause that will tip the sale. As SNEWS has written in the past, finding a passion for your product and your company to stand behind can make or break sales. (Click here to read an article in the 2005 fitness magazine, then called GearTrends, "Passion Pays Off.") We also asked a few of our SNEWS operatives to check out a couple of Dick's stores to get the scoop on how the new displays looked. Although still mostly lined up with the other equipment, the Livestrong product had bright yellow "hoods" with information that dominated the lineup and forced somebody testing pieces to look at them. In addition, the area was equipped with some additional signage -- including the unmistakable photo of Lance's don't-mess-with-me look -- and some informational fliers to pick up. All-in-all, not a bad display. The beauty of the brand is that all you need is canary yellow and Lance's face and -- voila! -- everybody will know what it's about and be drawn like bees to honey. This is going to be a huge win for Johnson Health Tech, and an indoor cycling program will only up the ante. Wanna lay money Lance will make an appearance at the rollout? Get your ticket now….