Phil Davy wants to differentiate TR's apparel brands

Publish Date: 
Jul 28, 2014
By Beth Dolgner

FRISCO, Texas - Phil Davy joined Tucker-Rocky/Biker’s Choice earlier this month as the company’s senior director of apparel brands. Actually, he doesn't have all of the distributor's apparel brands; FirstGear, River Road, MSR and Answer will fall under his direction, and he also will be overseeing two hard parts brands, MSR parts and Pro Taper.

During the Tucker Rocky/Biker’s Choice Brand Expo this past weekend, Dealernews sat down with Davy, a veteran of such noted brands as ICON and Leatt, to find out what will be in store (pun intended) for the specific apparel lines now under his direction, and what it will mean for dealers who sell those brands to the public. 

You said you want to focus on brand differentiation. How so?
First of all, the retail customer is looking to identify with something. Sometimes they identify with a brand, and sometimes they identify with a function. But if you try to be the everything brand or your message is lost in the mix, or it’s too similar to something else, then nobody is really going to identify with you.

"If the dealer looks at two brands as interchangeable, they'll choose one or the other. What I want to have them do is choose selections of each...and sell them to different people."

-- Phil Davy, Tucker Rocky

Answer and MSR, as two examples, originally started out as two different entities and they kind of converged over time. And they got to the point where the dealers felt – and the reps felt – that they were interchangeable. And I feel that’s an error, not only in branding for the retail customer, but it’s an error for us as far as dealer placement, as well. If the dealer looks at the two brands as interchangeable with each other, they’ll choose one or the other. What I want to have them do is choose selections of each, and put them side by side, and sell them to different people who are looking for a different brand identity.

What brand evolution will we see in the near future?
We have some brands that actually stand for something right now. And we’ve already started the divergence between Answer and MSR. In fact, it’s very evident in the new [MSR] Xplorer line, which has gotten a lot of excitement. I was very pleasantly surprised with the excitement over that; it’s been great. So some of this has already started.

There’s more study that has to be done about what the retail customers are actually looking for. River Road and First Gear are already very independent of each other, but what I really want to do with those brands is diverge them from their arch competitors. If they’ve got something where people think that, even if they come from two different companies, those two brands are interchangeable, then again you haven’t set a brand image that’s got a unique and compelling message. So there are certain things we can do to achieve that. Some of it is done with marketing and purely how you present the brand. Some of it is done with function and actual product. Product takes longer; marketing things can start happening right away.

And Tucker Rocky will have to change the way dealers find those brands and products.
They’re still too catalog-centric, which is actually rapidly becoming obsolete -- not for a company like Tucker Rocky obsoleting the catalog, but for a brand itself having a catalog be its voice piece is an obsolete thought process. And we need to move away from that and make it into a much more digital world, so that someone can understand a brand from A to Z on their phone. So that’s the path that we’re going to go down.

There are some things we’ll be doing immediately. There will be some very apparent changes in the first six months. But honestly, to do what I’m trying to achieve is a years-long process, but it will be fun along the way. There will be changes along the way and there might be some tears, but it will be fun.

What needs to happen on the apparel side to ensure we’re capturing a younger generation of riders?
A lot of people say, “This product is for the older guy, and this product is for the newer guy.” I actually don’t believe that’s true myself. I actually believe you can sell the same product to both of them.

Sometimes people look at the market and say, “This is what all the older people are wearing.” Well, why? And honestly it’s because that was all that was offered to them. It might be a sizing issue, it might be where they shop, it might be how you get the message to them. But if people are making choices based on the only thing that’s offered to them, its going to look like it’s 100 percent market share because that’s what the retail customer wants.