Men’s Health, Runner’s World branding deals aimed at building consumer trust

With fitness gear lining stores and floors, pushing consumers to pick your product over another is a big trick. And it seems that licensing a name they know and may trust is one way companies, like EB Sport, are looking to lead the consumer to their item.

With fitness gear lining stores and floors, pushing consumers to pick your product over another is a big trick. And it seems that licensing a name they know and may trust is one way companies are looking to lead the consumer to their item.

EB Sport Group has just released accessory kits under a licensing arrangement with Men’s Health and Women’s Health, with more product to come not only with those two brand names but also branded with two other Rodale magazine names -- Prevention and Runner’s World.

“Consumers are really confused,” Dan Kinsbourne, vice president of marketing for EB Sport, told SNEWS®. “They don’t know what’s right for them. Is it a single product, a combination of products?

“These brands are rooted in trust,” he added. The same could be said for other licensing deals of late, including the Livestrong Fitness brand (Johnson Health Tech), Xterra (Spirit) and Ironman (Star Trac).

Research done by EB -- which also owns Valeo, sells Sportline product, and licenses the Bally and Everlast names for product -- showed that consumers end up going to stores, choosing something to buy, and then “just leaving,” Kinsbourne said. He added that the company found out consumers were simply overwhelmed at the choices, didn’t know what to buy, and didn’t really know what to do with the gear once they did choose something.

“If people are not being successful (at their fitness program),” he said, “they’ll quit and that’s not good for anyone.”

Just out in November, the kits -- one each from Men’s Health called the “Ultimate Total-Body Workout” and from Women’s Health called the “Lean Body Workout” -- are being sold at GNC, Dick’s, The Sports Authority, Academy and Scheels, among others, as well as direct-to-consumer at (MSRP $49.99). They include gear as well as workout programs and training information from the editors at the magazines, according to Kinsbourne. He said the editors also had a say-so in what went into each kit. The men’s kit includes push-up handles, a power ab wheel and a pull-up bar. The women’s kit includes a stability ball, various types of rubber resistance tubes, a weight ball and a jump rope. Both kits include a one-year digital subscription to the respective magazine.

“That was important to us, that the editors are leading the development,” Kinsbourne said.

“These workout kits offer consumers a uniquely affordable fitness solution,” said Adam Campbell, fitness director, Men’s Health and Women’s Health, in a statement. “It not only provides the convenience of a home gym, but a complete workout program designed by the experts at Men’s Health and Women’s Health.”

Slated to be released later in 2010 are kits and gear under a license using two additional brand names from Rodale: Runner’s World Kits, aimed at a younger demographic, will emphasize accessories for runners such as heart rate monitors, speed-distance monitors, bottle packs and hydration accessories. Prevention-branded kits will aim at the older woman who walks and will emphasize walking gear such as pedometers and waist packs.

“Much of fitness accessories fall into this commoditized area of products,” he said. That means consumers end up looking at price since otherwise everything looks the same. Even the offering of education or a DVD is common these days, so offering programming dubbed as from the editors of magazines that consumers trust also helps set these apart.

“We felt we could bring some freshness and stand out,” he explained, “but we wanted to do it with a brand that meant something. If you’re buying a stability ball from Men’s Health, you’re buying more than a stability ball.”

--Therese Iknoian


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