Extending the Vending
Stuart Nettle July 8, 2010
Take a good look at the photo to the right. Click enlarge to ease your peepers. See anything unusual in that ad for Quiksilver?
Check the backpack on the ground - Rip Curl. Since when do companies give advertising space to their competitors? The answer in short is: when they're not competitors.
Time was when Quiksilver and Rip Curl weren't in competition and each made separate products. Quiksilver, who's founder, Alan Green, chanted the mantra 'boardshorts, boardshorts, boardshorts', only dealt in duds and Rip Curl only made wetsuits...and the odd backpack obviously.
Then, in 1989, Quiksilver signed up Tom Carroll to a top-dollar deal based on exclusivity. Carroll's boards would sport the Quik logo only and, along with the obligatory boardshorts, Quiksilver would make all the other products Carroll would need, like wetsuits, clothes, sunglasses and backpacks.
Surf companies had learnt to diversify.
By making new products they'd scoop more of the market and increase their profits. So, led by the Big Three, surf companies came to be one-stop-shops for everything a surfer needs - wetsuits, clothes, accessories - and all the products bore the logos. Alan Green's singular mantra on boardshorts came to seem very quaint; Quiksilver, like the other two, was a surf company and couldn't be categorised by a single product.
Sometime in the 90's, I don't really know when, the surf industry was no longer enough. Reaching market saturation they expanded beyond the bounds of surfing to incorporate snow, skate and street, anything at all to do with young fashion really. And it's still not enough. A quick check of the catalogues sees Rip Curl, Billabong and Quiksilver logos pop up in the unlikeliest of places.
Rip Curl and Billabong have both badged cars. Billabong have made mobile phones in the past and have just joined with Sony to make a new laptop that matches their coming boardshort range. While Quiksilver have the most eclectic spread manufacturing bedspreads and tuxedos and perfume.
And new markets and opportunities are still being sought. Quiksilver today announced, what I believe, is their most exciting venture yet - boardshorts in vending machines! Yep, they're heading back to familiar territory and mixing it with a mad Japanese method of clothing purchase. Underwear in a vending machine? Boardshorts too.
The finance people could explain all of this, and it'd be worth listening too. 'A company has to grow to survive', they'd say, 'if they stagnate they die'. And so we end up with branded perfume and boardies in a vending machine.
Except it won't be where it ends.
Don't ask me where it's all heading, you won't find any answers here. Because I'm as amazed as anyone to see where it's at now, and I bet ol' Alan Green is too. However, I will admit to being kinda curious about what products the companies have in their sights - airplanes? whitegoods? sex toys? - and how they plan to distribute them. Who the hell knows?