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LEVIS: AIMING AT THE ECHO BOOMERS In 1986, Levi Strauss & Company found that the best way to stay true blue to its customers was to change its colors. Riding high on the results of a recent “back to basis” campaign with its flagship 501 brand, Levi's was enjoying reinvigorated jeans sales. But the good news was followed by bad. Research showed that baby boomers, the core of the company's customer franchise, were buying only one or two pairs of jeans annually, compared to the four to five pairs purchased each year by 15 to 24-year-olds. Born between 1946 and 1964, the baby boomers had adopted jeans as a symbol of their break with the tastes and traditions of their parents. They had, in the words of Steve Goldstein, vice president of marketing and research for Levi's, helped turn the company into an “international global colossus” in the apparel industry. Now, however, the baby boomers were looking for something different. They still wanted clothing that was comfortable and made from natural fabrics, but fashion had become more important. Many worked in environments with relaxed dress codes, so they sought clothing that combined style and versatility—something appropriate for both professional and leisure activities. “We set ourselves out to answer the big question,” Goldstein says. “How could we keep the baby boomer generation in Levi's brands when they weren't wearing so many pairs of Levi's jeans? And the answer was Dockers, something between the jean that they loved and the dress pants that their parents expected them to wear when they got their first job.” Dockers created a product category—new casuals. Blue denim was out; cotton khaki (in brown, green, black, and navy, but mostly traditional tan) was in. Positioned as more formal than jeans yet more casual than dress slacks, Docker's satisfied an unfulfilled need. They were the right pants for a variety of occasions, an unpretentious alternative to dressy, tailored slacks. The challenge in marketing Dockers was to leverage the Levi's name and heritage while establishing the independence of the new brand, and to do so without detracting from Levi's core jeans focus. According to Goldstein, the company briefly considered not using the Levi's name at all, but realized that this would be “sort of like trying to put a space shuttle up without any launch rockets.” So the original theme for Dockers was “Levi's 100 percent cotton Dockers. If you're not wearing Dockers,
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you're just wearing pants.” Response from retailers and from the target market of 25- to 49-year-olds was everything Levi's hoped for. All the top menswear accounts across the country placed the new product in their stores, and in only five years, Dockers became a $1 billion brand. Brand awareness among men 25 and older was 98 percent, and 70 percent of target consumers had at least one pair of Dockers in their closets. With the new brand sailing along smoothly, Levi Strauss & Company began to dissociate
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This note was uploaded on 06/09/2010 for the course MARKETING mkt-505 taught by Professor Asadawan during the Spring '10 term at University of Management and Technology.

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