Developing the THULE brand in the UK sports buggy market

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Background

Thule Group (Sweden) are global market leaders in roof racks, roof boxes and bike racks. With its motto, ‘Active Life, Simplified’, Thule focuses on developing safe, easy to use and stylish solutions for active families and outdoor enthusiasts. Thule’s products are sold in 140 markets and it employs over 2200 people at nine production facilities and more than 35 sales outlets worldwide. Net sales amounted to SEK 5.9 billion (£507 million) in 2017.

Active with Kids is a relatively new category for Thule, comprising a series of products designed to help parents live an active life together with their children.

Challenge

In 2011 Thule took the plunge to enter the sports baby buggy market. Through the acquisition of Chariot , world-leading producers of multi-functional child carriers, Thule’s Active With Kids product category was born. In consecutive years, Thule added more sports buggies, child bike seats and child carrier backpacks to this category’s product offering. 2017 saw the introduction of Thule’s Active with Kids flagship product, the Thule Sleek, a four-wheel buggy for urban explorers.

For this serious brand expansion Thule once again chose PM to be their brand partner in the UK. The brief was to gain exposure for Thule in the parenting market and move away from the label of ‘Thule only does roof boxes’. More specifically, we were tasked with building a brand reputation in the UK buggy market to compete with several well-established brands.

Solutions

As Thule was completely new to this market, our approach was multi-angled in order to create maximum impact. Our true success lied in getting some noteworthy celebrities on board who endorsed Thule’s products and started building Thule’s Active With Kids brand reputation amongst their loyal followers.

Media Coverage

We started our campaign by gaining top-tier media coverage in popular parenting magazines and websites, such as Netmums, Made for Mums and Mother & Baby magazine. We also approached some high-profile running magazines and gained some excellent coverage in Runners World, Women’s Running and Trail Running, amongst others.

In both media markets, Thule’s products underwent thorough tests and reviews, often undergoing direct comparisons with competitive brands and always receiving positive reviews.

Celebrity Endorsement

With some excellent media coverage firmly in place, we started building relationships with several (sports) celebrities, notably British long-distance runner and World, European and Commonwealth medallist Jo Pavey , British World Cup alpine ski racer Chemmy Alcott , professional world champion track and road racing cyclist Lizzie Deignan , and BBC TV personality Ellie Harrison (Countryfile).

All these celebrities genuinely loved Thule’s Active With Kids products and authentically endorsed them through their social media channels, directly targeting and influencing their substantial amount of followers.

Jo Pavey’s endorsement also resulted in film coverage of the Thule Glide on the BBC’s Sports Personality of the Year as well as an inclusion of Thule product pictures in Jo’s autobiography ‘This Mum Runs’.

Launch Events

We arranged several successful launch events for some significant products in Thule’s Active With Kids range. Our largest event was the launch of the Thule Glide 2 at the 2018 The Running Show at NEC Birmingham .

We arranged for Jo Pavey be a guest speaker at the event. Her speech inspired visitors not to give up training when you have a family. Jo talked extensively about the benefits of running with the Thule Glide, her preferred running buggy, and her sole reason for being able to carry on training with her children. She also signed copies of her book “This Mum Runs” , which features pictures of the Thule Glide.

To celebrate the launch, PM ran a competition on social media, both in the run up to the event as well as during the event, to win a Thule Glide2 autographed by Jo Pavey. This competition received over 2,000 entries and over 300 comments.

Sponsorship

Throughout our Active With Kids campaign we have sponsored several notable athletes with Active With Kids products.

Some of the highlights:

In June 2016 British runner Lindsy James smashed the world record to became the fastest person to ever complete a half-marathon while pushing a buggy, using her Thule Glide.

November 2018 saw David Leitch beat the world record for the fastest marathon while pushing a buggy, using the Thule Urban Glide2 Double we sponsored his effort with.

Both of these tremendous achievements received some excellent top-tier media coverage, increasing Thule’s brand exposure significantly.

Award Entry

We entered several Thule Active With Kids products into the prestigious annual Mum & Baby awards to compete against the very best baby, pregnancy and new mum products. Numerous years running, Thule’s buggies were shortlisted and received special mentions. The Mum & Baby awards receive much attention in the parenting media, further aiding Thule’s brand exposure.

Business Impact

PM’s support of Thule’s entry into this new product category has made a significant positive difference to the success of Active With Kids in the UK: PM successfully identified and positioned Thule’s niche brand offering in this notoriously saturated market; The media exposure we achieved established Thule’s brand name in the parenting market and saw Thule continuously beat the well-established competition; Our brand development activities successfully led to a move away from the ‘just roof boxes’ label that Thule gravely wanted to achieve. Moreover, PM has contributed to an increase in Thule’s UK sales within the Active With Kids category.

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