Oakley: Female Friendly

In 2013, Oakley launched a bold marketing campaign with the hope of gaining more female customers. When this campaign was put into place only a mere 10% of Oakley’s customers were female. Therefore, women’s sales generated only 10% of Oakley’s $1 billion annual sales figure.

As a brand, Oakley were aware that they had to improve their method of communication with the female sector of the sportswear market. This was addressed by Josee Perreault, Oakley’ Senior Vice President of global business as he said, “We need to make this happen, and it’s a matter of driving the business that way, but that means some shifts in attitude and speaking to women differently.” Often viewed as a brand geared towards men, Oakley wanted women to know that they were not just about sunglasses and men.

Oakley aimed to find a unique selling point within the market. Jennifer Bradley, Oakley’s Global Marketing Director said that “Brands have become very homogenised in their messaging and are losing their point of difference in the market. Everyone is starting to look the same.”

Well-known eye wear brand Oakley is mostly recognised for its men’s products and range of eyewear, including both sunglasses and Oakley Prescription Glasses. Three years previous to this campaign they started a women’s apparel line specifically for training, snow, swimming and golfing. Company executives decided that they needed to take a different approach towards the women’s market if they wished for business to grow. They turned their focus towards active wear- the ever growing sector in the fashion industry.

As a respected, solid brand, Oakley represents good quality, top level performance and practicality with an element of good styling. The company hoped to build on top their solid reputation as an eyewear brand, developing their existing customer loyalty. Eyewear differentiates Oakley from other sportswear brands, as Perreault says ‘What distinguishes us is that our access point is also through optics, through eyewear, which the other competition doesn’t have.”

Oakley have targeted their active wear line specifically towards women who live an active lifestyle. They have consciously steered away from advertising to those who wear sports gear for leisure as Oakley clearly disapproves of the trend. They disagree with the concept of donning your workout gear whilst heading out for a coffee or doing your weekly shop. They have made no secret of this as many of their adverts taglines poke fun at this trend. The “Made for More” campaign includes phrases such as ‘This is for running, not running errands’, ‘It’s not carpool chic.  It’s not grocery casual. It was made for more than that’.

Although Oakley’s attitude towards the trend may be controversial it has been received well by their target customers. Oakley’s true customers appreciate the strong message behind sporting products as they know that they are made to meet their specific needs. Oakley products enhance their active lifestyle.

They devised a marketing strategy to market the whole story towards women. Perreault explains, “we’re going to market the whole story: optical and training, because when she goes out, we want her to dress in the whole gear,” she said. “We’re not going to launch one story only for sun and one story only for apparel. We’re trying to paint the big picture that we’re in all those categories for the women’s side.” The bold, disruptive message behind the campaign is that Oakley brand wishes to celebrate active women and communicate that all of their products are made for more than leisure.

The campaign has featured across the pages of selected magazines, including Shape, Self and Women Fitness. They have also sponsored events such as the New York Mini Marathon and the Shape Diva Dash Series obstacle course race. They have also built up their presence across the social media scene.

Oakley have proved their reliability through the good quality of their range; from Oakley Sunglasses to Oakley menswear. Will their trusty reputation carry them across the gender divide and help them increase that 10%?