Wednesday, November 19, 2008

New Product Developmemt - Frequency SS

New product development is always fun - finding a market is the challenge.

We are currently in the final stages of developing a new product at Nineteen. Pictured above on one of our sponsored athletes, Jeff Keil from Colorado, is our new Frequency SS. The SS stands for Speed-Skin or Swim-Skin. Jeff placed second in his Age Group at the recent Ironman World Championships and swam to a 3 minute personal best swim time in the new Nineteen Frequency SS! This was a new product category that was really opened up by our fellow wetsuit manufacturer, Blue Seventy Wetsuits when they debuted their Point Zero 3 swim skin just over a year ago. Until then in non-wetsuit swims, triathletes had worn regular swim or tri suits. Now they could gain an edge by wearing a garment that made them much more hydro-dynamically sleek in the water.

Blue Seventy pushed the envelope and moved the ball down the court - kudos to them. They even took the ball outside of the triathlon court and potentially opened up a whole new market when they seeked and won FINA approval for the Point Zero 3. Problem is, in the world of pool swimming there is one and only one brand that rules - Speedo. All the talk before after and during the recent Olympic Games was the Speedo Lazer. And to Speedo's credit, they hit the ball out of the court as well, when the Lazer wearing swim stars of the Games, including the mighty Michael Phelps, went on a World Record rampage! Guess what racing swim suit all competitive and masters swimmers are talking about?

Where am I going with this? Well, as I mentioned, new product development is fun and cool, but new market development can be a slow and tedious process and that's what Nineteen as well as any of the tri wetsuit companies are facing with our new swim-skins, when looking into the real swimming pool. I have already started this process and like anything, it's about doing a lot of listening at the out-set and learning as much as you can, as quickly as you can. My sense is that their may be some real potential here, but it's going to take time. One great thing about triathletes, is that they are early adopters of just about everything. Tell a triathlete it will help them, even a bit, and they will buy into it, almost right on the spot! It's a key reason for the success of many smaller companies supplying product and services to the triathlon market. Single sport athletes, for the most part are much more skeptical. So I have my work cut out for me. I'll keep you posted as I go.

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