Lando Simonetti founded La Martina for the purpose of producing and selling functional polo equipment, focusing on controlled growth, limited availability, and embodying the polo lifestyle. Originally developed for polo players, the initial customer base of La Martina was comprised of polo players, teams and clubs. This niche market, with only 7,000 to 8,000 professional players and 20,000 casual players worldwide, is concentrated in only a few countries across the world. As polo is typically played by more elite segments of the society, La Martina also targeted its products at socialites who were either avid polo players or enthusiasts, who not only had an appreciation for polo but could also afford to pay for these expensive products. The company grew through giving attractive product offers and deals to polo teams, associations, and riding clubs at some of the most prestigious schools and universities throughout the world. Together, these strategies greatly reinforced the association of La Martina with polo, and solidified its status in the public eye. As the sport gained international attention, polo became increasingly fashionable, and so did its products. Demand for La Martina products steadily pulled the company into the fashion mainstream, which posed a new dilemma for its growth strategy – whether to refrain from entering the fashion market and retain its niche market, or to capitalize on it. While fashion implies the prospects of fast growth and markets of scale, it could also risk compromising some of the La Martina brand values. ALTERNATIVES
The first alternative Lando faces is to resist entering the fashion market and continue to focus the efforts of La Martina directly on its core goals of providing the highest quality equipment and gear to polo clubs and players, personifying the passion and essence of the sport, and spreading the popularity and lifestyle of polo through mutual cooperation with Polo Management Group. The strengths of maintaining the current path are based primarily in the fact that La Martina is well established as a polo company, one that promotes the sport through its company rather than merely using the sport as a means of promotion. This alternative keeps closely in line with Lando’s mission, as it remains close to the heart of the authentic polo lifestyle and focuses the company’s efforts almost entirely on the passion of the game. With PMG, La Martina could continue to sponsor polo events throughout the world, hopefully bringing the sport to new areas and thus opening up new markets. This could be seen as a relatively safe path, as La Martina knows its core competencies and could continue to develop them. This option, however, has some inherent weaknesses and threats. Chief among these is the reality of limited markets in which to spread the sport. By limiting the company almost exclusively to geographic areas where polo is played, the company also limits its potential growth and future market opportunities. Up to the present, Lando has met great success in his efforts through PMG to spread polo to new locations. However, continued success in this endeavor is not guaranteed, and indeed might be reaching its full potential. The actual polo market is quite limited, and this alternative only allows the company growth up to that limit. This actually means that La Martina has reached maturity within this market. Secondly, it leaves La Martina relatively prone to the threat of other competitors in the market. For example, Ralph Lauren, Façonnable, La Dolfina, and Etiqueta Negra have already begun polo clothing lines, and are recruiting famous polo players for their advertising campaigns. The second proposed alternative for La Martina is to expand into the fashion market; that is, it could have a third wing, other than polo products and PMG, concentrating solely on fashion. Realistically, the...