Teva Targets Younger Customers

Teva Targets Younger Customers
Joel Heath

NEW YORK — Joel Heath wants to put Teva in front of a whole new consumer.

Heath, 40, the global brand marketing director for Teva since 2009, took over the president’s spot earlier this year, when former head Pete Worley was promoted to president of the Asia-Pacific region for parent company Deckers Outdoor Corp.

“I think when people saw the announcement, they said, ‘He’s not a shoe dog. What’s up with that?’” Heath said. “We have a lot of shoe dogs — and we need them all — but I’m a consumer guy, and we are a great adventure brand that has allowed itself to age with the consumer.”

Now, Heath is working to court more young consumers.

A 2009 study commissioned by the brand showed its average customer age was 42 — more than a decade removed from the 26-year-old outdoor enthusiast Teva wants to target. (Since then, the average age has come down by two years, thanks to the firm’s new efforts.)

As part of those efforts, Teva is aggressively expanding into action sports with skate styles, bike product and a much more diverse winter offering, including a line of packable insulated boots debuting for fall ’12.

“The consumers we want to talk to are really about changing rules, redefining what the outdoors means. Action sports and outdoor are colliding, and the consumer’s been there for almost six years,” Heath said.

The exec also is bringing the product, marketing and sales teams closer together, in addition to hiring a new position: an executive-level creative director who will report to him and oversee the look of product, as well as all marketing, digital initiatives and consumer outreach.

“Having design at the center of the table is the most important thing we can do,” Heath said.

Brian Trask, footwear category manager for Boston-based City Sports, said his team has been experimenting with some of Teva’s newer commuter styles, BMX and active water product, as well as hiking and trail styles. And so far, he said, the new product seems to appeal to a different shopper.

“They’re definitely [intriguing some new customers], ones who aren’t used to some of the technology that Teva can bring to the table,” Trask said.

“[Teva is] headed in the right direction with product like the Gnarkosi and the Churn,” Anthony Clark, footwear buyer for Park City, Utah-based e-tailer Backcountry.com, said of the brand’s action-sports offerings. “They have potential there for sure.”

But attracting that new consumer means getting the word out, and Heath said Teva is willing to make the investment.

“We’ve almost doubled our market spend,” he said. The firm also will focus more on sponsored athletes and in promoting the Teva Mountain Games, the twice-yearly Vail, Colo.-based action sports festival the brand sponsors. “We’re going to utilize our content platforms,” Heath said. “For the Mountain Games, we spend a lot of money syndicating the content.”

Additionally, it will emphasize digital initiatives and out-of-home advertising, such as the Denver Airport campaign the brand orchestrated for last summer’s Teva Mountain Games.

Trask heralded the brand’s increased social media play as a key in attracting customers. “They’ve realized there’s a huge customer shopping online, and by tapping into technology and social networking, they’re getting people talking about their product. And we’re definitely seeing it pay early dividends.”

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