Zoggs has been in the UK market since 1994 after its birth in Australia in 1992.  As a brand it is sold in more than 40 countries worldwide, and enjoys the number two position in both Australia and the UK.  Peter Doyle has been with the company for four years, during a key period of its growth; he spoke to SGB about the company, product and the future..
SGB: How did you do in the Olympics? Did you have any swimmers there?
Peter Doyle: At Zoggs we target the seven million regular swimmers who swim for fitness or recreation rather than the niche, competitive part of the market.  Those swimmers still demand a product that is fit for purpose.
That said, Zoggs made a splash in Beijing with success in the Triathlon event.  We’ve known for a long time that our Predator goggles are gold standard when it comes to providing a fog-free, leak-resistant swim, but it now seems that even Olympic swimmers agree!  Kitted out in bespoke white Predator goggles, the German Triathlon team were a force to be reckoned with, and star of the day Jan Frodeno won gold..
Within the Tri market the Predator goggle really has created a stir and this is set to continue in 2009 with the launch a mirrored lens version – another first for Zoggs.
In the period since the Olympics the economic environment has clearly taken a downturn, but I’m pleased to say that Zoggs and our goggle sales in particular have bucked this trend quite spectacularly. We believe that the Olympic Games inspired many swimmers of all levels and abilities, but perhaps more significantly, swimming is a really cost effective way of staying in shape and keeping fit.
SGB: For Zoggs in the UK is Triathlon a focus?
PD: In recent years we have focussed on the Tri market with our sponsorship of the
Swim-Zone at The London Tri and our sponsorship of the Human Race events.   Many people associate Zoggs with the Junior market so our presence on the Tri scene supports our credentials as a swim brand for all ages and serves as a counter-balance to the Junior market representation.  We want to be seen as a brand that makes swimming fun, which is also very serious about product.
The primary reason for our attendance at these events is to enable us to achieve direct one to one consumer feedback through our “Goggle Doctor” clinics.  This is something that has worked really well for us and is something we plan to roll out in 2009 with our Independent retail partners, where quite naturally we can engage with swimmers of all ages and levels.
At Zoggs we want to play our part in ensuring that all swimmers are wearing the most appropriate goggle in terms of comfort and fit, leaving the swimmer to enjoy the freedom and exhilaration of the water with unconditional trust in their goggle.
SGB: How has the swimwear range developed in conjunction with the leading D-G cup specialist Bravissimo worked for you?
PD: When our swimwear launched in the January 08 edition of the Bravissimo brochure, it was the first branded bra sized “performance” swimsuit on the UK market.  The Zoggs range has been a resounding success for Bravissimo and was immediately a best seller indicating that there was a genuine gap in the market which we were happy to fill.
Bravissimo is a real authority on the D-G cup market with a tremendously loyal customer base, so we are really proud that they chose to work with Zoggs.  We continue to collaborate with them and have some great costumes launching for 2009 which are also on general release.
The timing of our collaboration with Bravissimo couldn’t have been better as our design team were already working on our “Swimshapes” range of costumes which is our major initiative launching in SS2009. 
Traditionally performance swimsuits are designed to fit an A-C cup consumer.  The average cup size is now a D and the Size UK survey in 2006 identified that women’s average waistline has increased 6″ since the 1950’s.  Women, quite rightly are now expecting much more from their swimsuits.  Not only do they want something which is functional, they also want to look and feel good – performance swimwear has become an emotional purchase!
Swimshapes is a collection of suits specifically designed to fit, flatter and enhance “all” body shapes and sizes.  Swimshape suits all have added features, such as tummy control, removable cups, adjustable straps etc.  These feature suits now account for around a third of our swimwear sales and is the category showing the most dramatic growth.
The regular swimmer also expects value for money, so chlorine resistancy is a key consideration in the selection process.  Last year Zoggs pioneered the use of Dow XLA technology with the launch of the chlorine-proof Ultex range of costumes, and SS09 sees the launch of the first feature suit in the Ultex fabric, The Wyomi X-back which we’re very excited about.
SGB:How are things going generally?  Have you seen growth in the number of outlets you’re in, have you seen volume growth, and if not how are you going to drive it?
PD: In the four years I’ve been with Zoggs we’ve grown by about 60% in the UK, so it’s been fairly dramatic and clearly we have increased our share significantly as the overall market has been relatively flat.  The result is that the Zoggs brand awareness is at an all time high, but we’re under no illusion that 2009 will be a challenging time for both retailers and brands alike.
Growth has been achieved to a large extent by broadening our representation within existing long term retailers such as John Lewis and the Independent Retail sector with our partners STAG and the Allied group. 
Goggles are the foundation of our brand with the category still representing around 45% of our turnover.  For 2009 we have some amazing product developments, in particular our Phantom family of goggles, now with silicone gaskets and headstraps, and easy adjust push pad mechanism now offers unrivalled comfort and fit at a very accessible price point.  At the top end, the Predator family of goggles continues to go from strength to strength and with the addition of a mirrored lens version, that trend is set to continue – the first mirrored curve lens product in the market.
Our real growth has been within swimwear which represents about a third of our sales currently.  Given that swimsuits represent about 70% of the total swim category, we believe that there’s still a serious amount of share for Zoggs to gain.  The “Swimshapes” story is our means of achieving this growth with a range offering the retailer a real point of difference.
SGB: Does Zoggs provide sexy POS and good deals for Independents?
PD: Yes, very much so.  Our point of sale package is extensive, ranging from bespoke fixtures, goggle display tubes, branded headers, wire frame hangers, consumer posters and educational leaflets – you name it we’ve got it!   We now have a Trade Marketing Manager whose role is focused on this area specifically which demonstrates our commitment to the Trade.
We also have a team of 10 Regional Account Managers who are available to offer training and merchandising support as we recognise that its not all about sell in, sell through is critical for our long term growth.  Once again this year we will exhibit at the STAG show later this month with both Zoggs and PureLime where we’ll have a number of exciting deals to entice the independents.
SGB: Looking at the industry as a whole, there’s been some controversial new technologies produced recently.  What do you think the next big thing is going to be in water sports?
PD: Yes, the suits used by the Olympic athletes created a lot of media attention which is great for the profile of swimming generally.  Zoggs though is primarily pitched at the fitness and recreational swimmer, rather than the competition swimmer, but nevertheless innovation is very important to us.  We continually seek to stretch the boundaries of comfort and fit by embracing the latest technology available whether it be for goggles, equipment or swimwear.
For instance we were first to market with curved lens technology, allowing 180 degrees peripheral vision and will be first to launch a mirrored version early in 2009.  Within swimwear we were first to market with Dow XLA chlorine proof swimwear, with our Ultex range of swimsuits, and first to launch a wire-free, cup sized performance swimwear range.
SGB: You provide goggle fitting clinics as well – how are they received?
PD: “Goggle fitting clinics” as we call them are run by our team of “Goggle Doctors” aka the Regional Account Managers.  It’s a really good opportunity to talk directly to the end consumer and assist them in selecting the most appropriate product.   Because the dimensions of each face is different, in an ideal world every consumer would get the opportunity to try before they buy.  For the most part this activity has been at the London Tri and the Human Race Tri Events.  We believe that goggle fitting is a real opportunity for Independent retailers to demonstrate their main point of difference in terms of service to the end user.
SGB:: Is that something that you would do with a shop?
PD: Absolutely. Each of our Regional Account Managers will be set up with a Goggle Doctor kit and will be available to start making appointments early in 2009.