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Garmin Moves to IBD Strategy

Published March 29, 2009

OLATHE, KS (BRAIN)—Garmin has went through quite a transformation in the last year with its cycling/fitness specific product. It used to be that new product would show up in three different channels with the same pricing, much to the chagrin of the IBD. Not anymore.

“We really wanted to service the specialty market,” said Stan Brajer, director of fitness sales and marketing for Garmin. “You have to exercise a lot of patience with this strategy.”

But it seems to be paying immediate dividends.

Since last year’s release of the Garmin Forerunner 405 sports watch/heart rate monitor, Garmin has kept its new product in the IBD, and at the very least better sporting goods stores.

“The mass merchants are going to get the end-of-life product,” said Brajer, who’s been on the job restructuring the fitness division for the last three years. He’s been in the fitness industry for more than 25 years, having worked at Brooks, Puma and New Balance.

There are have been grumbles among a few dealers, however, that some in the mass like WalMart have been severely undercutting the price on that “end-of-life” product.

The pull-no-punches Brajer, who knows the specialty channel well having spent 13 years owning a specialty-running store, knows that he can’t rectify all the policies that came before him overnight, but that he can control the future.

“I have no problem matching WalMart’s price and refunding them the difference,” Brajer said with conviction.

While automotive may do more in volume, Brajer said that fitness is now the fastest growing division within Garmin.

“Fitness sales are through the roof,” said Brajer, since adopting this new IBD geared strategy. He said that Garmin has shown “five times” growth within IBD over that same timeframe. Garmin has also streamlined its distributor lineup with Quality Bicycle Products leading the charge now.

“We want our IBD to focus on [Garmin’s] greatest and latest product,” Brajer added. “That’s where we’re going to get the credibility—with the IBD.” To that effect, Brajer said Garmin is launching something at Interbike this year that is “cool even by our standards.”

For more on this story including Garmin’s new fitness marketing philosophy, be sure to read the April 15 issue of Bicycle Retailer and Industry News.

—Jason Norman

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