Quiksilver Inc Case Study Brief Case Study

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This approach is highly congruent with the guidance of marketing experts such as Wheaton (2004) who advises, "There are synergies between different lifestyle sports industries and their media. Corporations make equipment for several lifestyle sports, sometimes under different brand names. Clothing companies like Quiksilver sell to a range of lifestyle sport markets including skating, surfing, windsurfing, snowboarding and have been quick to exploit the potential of emergent and rapidly growing activities like kite-surfing" (2004, p. 10). Because the company also designs and manufactures the core sporting needs for these sporting enthusiasts, it is important to identify defining characteristics of this market. These sports are characterized by a number of features of interest to Quiksilver's and its competitors' marketers with respect to their various core product and accessory lines, including those set forth in Table 2 below.

Table 2

Defining features of the surf and sports industries



Such sports are a historically recent phenomenon.

The activities have emerged over the past few decades, involving either the creation of new activities - such as windsurfing, ultimate frisbee and snowboarding or the adaptation of older 'residual' cultural forms, such as the (re)emergence of surfing culture in California in the 1960s, or sport climbing in rock climbing.

The emphasis is on 'grass roots' participation.

Unlike some alternative extreme sports, lifestyle sports are fundamentally about participation, not spectating, either in live or in mediated settings (such as watching the X-Games, or other media festivals). Nevertheless, practitioners are self-consciously aware of 'being seen', and presentation of self to others - whether in lived settings or mediated forms - seems to be a part of the experience and are regarded as 'postmodern sports' representing a revival of Amateurism.

The sports are based around the consumption of new objects (boards, bikes, discs, etc.), often involving new technologies, yet embracing change and innovation

Improvements to technologies have resulted in rapid developments in many lifestyle sports, such as the fragmentation and diversification of the culture, and its forms of identity. This fragmentation can produce new scenes, or even the creation of new activities including the revival of long-boards in surfing, and concurrently the invention of tow-in-surfing.

Commitment in time, and/or money and a style of life and forms of collective expression, attitudes and social identity that develops in and around the activity

These commitments can be readily discerned in skating, surfing, snowboarding, windsurfing and climbing activities.

A participatory ideology that promotes fun, hedonism, involvement, self-actualization, 'flow,' living for the moment, 'adrenalin rushes' and other intrinsic rewards.

They often denounce - and in some even resist - institutionalization, regulation and commercialization, and tend to have an ambiguous relationship with forms of traditional competition. Most lifestyle sports emphasize the creative, aesthetic and performative expressions of their activities has termed these activities 'expressive sport' (rather than the reward driven 'spectacle' sports), they are rarely conducted for spectators or competitive practice, emphasizing the aesthetic realm in which one blends with one's environment. Some practitioners refer to their activities as art.

A predominantly middle class, white, Western participant composition.

despite being associated with 'youth' many activities have wider-based age ranges, and in some cases are less gender differentiated than 'traditional' sports

Source: Adapted from Wheaton 2004, pp. 11-12

Nevertheless, the company's prominent Web presence and recent positioning efforts suggest that Quiksilver's authentic and historical marketing strategy remains the primary focus in Western as well as Asian countries under a family of brands that specifically appeal to its surf and sports-minded consumers. For example, the company reports that, "Having globalized the company through acquisition of its licensees, Quiksilver became the first board-riding company to focus on acquiring major, like-minded brands, such as DC Shoes in 2003 and Rossignol in 2005, with a view to building a family of brands covering the outdoor sector" (About Us 2012, p. 4). Likewise, the corporate Web site also notes that Quiksilver was the "first board-riding company to fully globalize its management structure with autonomous regional structures" (About Us 2012, p. 4).

In fact, the company posts an impressive laundry list of "firsts" in its corporate literature that indicate it is on the right track (see partial list at Appendix a), but the harsh reality of the business environment in which the company is currently competing suggests that the company can no longer rest on its authenticity and historic laurels while Nike and Adidas continue to eat up its share in all of Quiksilver's international markets. Therefore, formulating an informed and timely decision-making process to address these issues is clearly required, and these issues are discussed further below.


Future Decision-Making

The recent vivid images on mainstream international news programs of long lines of hikers waiting to make the final ascent to Mount Everest indicates that until they install an escalator to the top, there are growing numbers of consumers willing to pay major money to participate in many of the sports that are Quiksilver's primary market. The company, though, appears to be trying to "ride the horse that got it here" in response to the increased competition from Nike and Adidas, rather than through innovation and improvement in product design. In fact, the company concedes that, "The arrival of Echo Beach in late 1980 caused a sensation. With its geometric designs, bold colors and bad attitude, the new line was the first to capture the mood of the new generation of beachgoers, and it is still being reinvented today" (About Us 2012, p. 3). Simply "reinventing" stale designs, no matter how bad their attitude, though, will not be enough to achieve a competitive advantage over the market leaders. The company's heavy investment in surfing superstars may help reinvigorate sales, but it is clear that translating this investment into economic success is going to require a reevaluation of the company's historic marketing strategies. There was a clear trend identified in the company's international business approach wherein Quiksilver is relying less and less on innovation and high-quality engineering in its surfing and sporting equipment in favor of glitzy promotional efforts that are not reaching the expanded market needed to grow its clothing brands. Nevertheless, the company has longstanding multi-million dollars contracts with major surfing and skateboarding champions that will mean these types of media efforts will continue for the foreseeable future, but it is recommended that the company's leadership place a higher emphasis on innovation in its research and design to help it achieve a competitive advantage against market leaders Adidas and Nike.


'About Us.' (2012). Quiksilver, Inc. [online] available: www.quiksilver.com.

Chokkavelu, a. (2012, April 27). 'How Cheap Is Quiksilver's Stock by the Numbers?' the

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Dowling, P.J. Liesch, P., Gray, S.J., & Hill, C.W.L. (2009). International Business: Asia-

Pacific Edition (1st ed.). Sydney: McGraw Hill Irwin.

Jackson, S.J. & Andrews, D.L. (2004). Sport, Culture and Advertising: Identities, Commodities

and the Politics of Representation. New York: Routledge.

Kadner, N. (2010, August). 'Brain Farm Makes Waves with Quiksilver Campaign.' American

Cinematographer, vol. 91, no. 8, pp. 12-13.

Kirby, J. & Marsden, P. (2006). Connected Marketing: The Viral, Buzz and Word of Mouth

Revolution. Oxford, England: Butterworth-Heinemann.

'Quiksilver Adds Golden Girl Gilmore to Its Stable.' (2011, January 7). Tweed Daily News, 37.

'Quiksilver Profile.' (2012, May 25). Yahoo! Finance. [online] available: http://finance.yahoo.


Wheaton, B. (2004). Understanding Lifestyle Sport: Consumption, Identity, and Difference.

London: Routledge.

Appendix a

Partial List of Quiksilver, Inc. "Firsts"

1. The first to establish 100% sponsorship athletes, with Tom Carroll's 1988 "top to toe" contract for $1 million.

2. The first surf company to adapt the style and feel of the beach to technical outerwear for alpine sports, first skiing and then snowboarding.

3. Quiksilver recognized the increasing influence of women in surfing early in the '80s, but when Roxy, the first dedicated female surf brand, was created in 1990, the bar was raised to level that the other companies have yet to reach.

4. Quiksilver recognized the increasing influence of women in surfing early in the '80s, but when Roxy, the first dedicated female surf brand, was created in 1990, the bar was raised to level that the other companies have yet to reach.

5. Quiksilver was the first to recognize that boardriders wanted jeans that jeaners didn't make, so it hired denim guru Mel Matsui and created the industry's first genuine…

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