One of the benefits of a career in brand marketing is that I have had a front row seat for major brand launches that re-defined categories. Today I am going to talk about the Dockers Brand which re-defined casual pants in the United States and eventually across the world. In the mid 1980’s, consumer research at Levi-Strauss and Company revealed a decline in Jeans purchases by the brand’s core baby boomer male demographic that was between the ages of 25-49 at the time. Many of these consumer’s were moving out of the jeans category altogether. For many men with expanding waistlines, regular fitting jeans were no longer comfortable.
To respond to this change in demographics and purchasing patterns, Levi’s introduced Dockers Khaki Pants in 1986. Dockers was one of the most successful new product introductions in apparel history. Male baby boomers responded positively to the comfortable relaxed fit and the casual feel of cotton slacks. At the same time major corporations began to relax their dress codes and the work force became more casual. An innovative advertising campaign that built a strong emotional connection with men combined with an in-store shop program fueled rapid sales growth. The advertising clearly spoke to 30 something men at the time
By 1993, in just seven years, Dockers sales grew to a billion dollars. In 1999, Fortune Magazine estimated that 75 percent of men over the age of 25 owned a pair of Dockers. The success of Dockers is one that fascinated the apparel industry for much of the 1990’s. Dockers sales revenue has declined in recent years due to competition and pricing but it is still a major apparel brand. With increased competition and changing demographics, Dockers will be challenged in the future to retain their core baby boomer customer as well as attract a new younger customer base.
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