In 1966 two Swiss brothers founded KSwiss. After moving to California, Art and Earnest Brunner, both tennis players, decided they were going to design a tennis shoe that would be customized to support the needs of other tennis players.
The shoe they designed included a firm upper and cushioning for the soles of the feet. The upper itself was designed so that it would hold its own against the forceful lateral movement pressure while playing tennis. This shoe became the Classic.
The remarkable thing about KSwiss and their success is that they did not advertise for the first twenty years. Their reputation was built on word of mouth. The Classic was introduced at Wimbledon in 1966, and it was an instant hit.
The popularity of the Classic grew immediately with their intended upscale consumer base of customers and tennis players. K-Swiss’ shoes soon garnered a cult-like status in the 70’s in Japan.
The strategy that KSwiss employed to make their shoes popular by word of mouth, quality and durability served them well until the 80’s when trends began to change. Nike, Adidas and Reebok turned athletic wear into a fashion statement, and the sales of K-Swiss slowed.
When Steven Nichols bought the company in 1987 and made himself CEO, he decided to maintain the ‘snob appeal’ of KSwiss, but enlarge the target market of their brand. It was then that for the first time in K-Swiss’ history, they began to advertise. This campaign succeeded in raising profits 72 percent in one year.
Since then, K-Swiss has broadened its product line to include different types of performance footwear, including the recent addition of aerobic and technical climbing footwear. They now have over 3000 retail accounts in the US. alone, as well as large numbers of consumers in Europe and Japan.
Interesting Facts about K-Swiss
* Its signature K-SWISS "CLASSIC," the first leather tennis shoe, made its debut at Wimbledon in 1966
* Granted the patent to the Cushion Board sole construction in 1992
* Granted the patent to the D-R Cinch lacing system in 1992
Originally K-Swiss relied on word of mouth to advertise their products, but in the 1990’s they decided to compete with the other big names in athletic and sports apparel. They decided to enlist athletes as spokespeople, and their new strategy worked well.
One of these spokespeople was Anna Kournikova, a world famous tennis player. In order to draw more celebrity attention they host a celebrity charity tennis and golf event every year called ‘Desert Smash’, which brings the world’s best tennis players and famous celebrities together.
K-Swiss took a risk with a new advertising campaign in 2011, where Kenny Powers, a fictional character, takes over K-Swiss. Kenny Powers’ character comes from the TV series on HBO called Eastbound and Down. This campaign was built around the new line of K-Swiss shoes Tubes.
The video showing Kenny’s hostile takeover of K-Swiss is available online and uncensored (be warned, it is also not hyper-linked because of content).
K-Swiss has grown remarkably since it’s early beginnings of the Classic tennis shoe, and with their strong marketing abilities and loyalty to their customer’s wants and needs, they are a company that will continue to thrive for many years to come.
Want to find another brand? I have seen the Kswiss running shoes- Take me to the best running shoes page...are you sure..really sure!