DOCKERS: CREATING A SUB-BRAND1
. . .
In the spring of 1985,Levi Strauss & Co. (LS&Co.) was.flush with,its success in the blue jeans market. The company's star campaign, called "501 Blues," had recently brought new vitality to the company after several faded expansions into other apparel market segments in the earlier part of the decade. Confident in the wake of 501's success, the company was contemplating its next steps when research revealed a decline in jeans purchases by LS&Co.'s core customer base of baby boomers. In short, the company's "bread and butter" customer for the last 30 years-the American male teenager-was now 2 M 9 and was moving out of the jeans market at an alarming rate. T o retain these customers even as their jeans purchases slowed or stopped, the company 'introduced Levi's Dockers casual pants. Dockers, as the name was.later shortened to, was one of the most successful new product introductions of the 1980s in the clothng indusy. Consumers responded to the product design, which u h e d the comf0r.t and casual feel of cotton, and likeable adverdsingby purchasing enough Dockers to make it a billion-dollu brapd by 1993. Over the course of the 1990s, LS&Co. enjoyed phenomenal success from its Dockers sub-brand. The Dockers brapd achieved record sales growth in 1998 and Fonunt magazine e s h a t e d in 1999 that 75 percent of American men owned a pair of Dockers and that the average customer owned 3.8 pairs. That year, the total number of Dockers owners exceeded 40 million. The company noticed at this time that younger consumers began to lose interest in Dockers, however, with many dismissing the pants as something "their fathers wore." In the late 1990s, L'evi Strauss developed new advertising campaigns and introduced new Dockers subb r a d s td counteract this trend. Sales of Dockers remained over $1 biUlon through 2000, but sales growth continued to slow. Many questioned the brand's long-term relevance. Would Dockers be able to keep up with changing consumer tastes and shifting fashion standards? Could the brand maintain a loyal customer base while adapring to new styles?
THE ORIGINS, LEV1 STRAUSS & CO.AND L V ' SO1 JEANS OF EIS
In 1849, a poor Bavaiian immigrant named Levi Strauss landed in San Francisco, California at the invitadon of his brother-in-law, theowner of a dry goods business. This dry goods business would later become known as Levi Suauss & Co. Suauss quickly learned that the gold miners were seeking a durable pair of pants that could . withstand their rugged lifestyle. To meet their needs, Strauss designed a pair of pants from a heavy browri canvas-ke material-the world's first pair of "jeans." Levi's pants quickly became an indispensable part of the miner's uniform, p n i n g a reputation for being as tough and rugged as the people who wore them. Strauss called his pants "waist hlgh ovetnlls"--the miners called them "those pants of Levi."
Strauss soon switched to a sturdier fabric called "serge de Nimes,'! made in Nirnes, France, to make his pants. The fabric name,'waslater shortged to ''denim," and indigo dye was added to give the jeans their blue color. In 1873, rivets were added to strengthen pockets, which had been unable to hold up under the weight of the minus' gold nuggets, along with the patented double arcuate pattern sewn into the back hip pocket-America's lust apparel trademark-and the 'Two Horse Brand" leather patch. By the 1890s, the popularity of their jeans and other dry goods had spread, and to keep better track of the expandng product line, LS&Co. adopted a new inventory system. Levi's jeans were assiped the lot number "501 " and given that number as their name. Sales of Levi's 501 jeans grew through the 1900s. Drn the 1930s, the uig jeans' popularity burgeoned as Western movies began to glamorize blue jeans, establishing 501's Western mystique. Levi's jeans became an even more valuable product during World War 11, when the...