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Case Study: How a Swiss Co. Doubled US Sales by Convincing Consumers That Its Product Is Hip and Worth a Premium

by Laurie Lande  |  
September 11, 2007
  |  306 views

Company: SIGG USA
Contact: Steve Wasik, SIGG USA President
Location: Stamford, CT
Industry: Retail (B2C)
Annual revenue: Confidential
Number of employees: 6

Quick Read:

SIGG Switzerland had been selling its aluminum water and fuel bottles to the US outdoor market for years at an average price of $20-$24, about twice as much as the closest competitor's. The company counted on the Swiss reputation for quality to drive sales. But sales were flat, apparently because SIGG underestimated the level of price sensitivity among US consumers and didn't give them a compelling reason to spend extra for its products. Moreover, by relying on a local distributor to sell its product, SIGG had little control over the sales and marketing process.

In mid-2005, feeling that Americans were ready to embrace an environmentally friendly product, SIGG formed a US subsidiary to take over distribution of its bottles and get closer to its US customers. Through market research, SIGG USA made some surprising discoveries about American consumers: They were worried that their water would taste like the metal container they carried it in, and they didn't fully appreciate the variety of bottle designs.

SIGG USA needed a new marketing plan—both to increase awareness of the usefulness of its product and to make consumers believe it was worth the premium they would pay. It employed a variety of strategies, including an online contest that allowed customers to submit a new bottle design and a commitment to work with environmentally focused bloggers, asking them to mention SIGG bottles. The multi-pronged strategy paid off: US sales doubled in 2006 from the year before, and the bottles are now available in hundreds of more mainstream retail outlets, including Whole Foods Markets.


The Challenge:

SIGG Switzerland had been selling its aluminum fuel bottles to the US outdoor market for about 30 years and added a line of aluminum water bottles in 2003. The reusable water bottles came in a variety of colorful designs, and sales took off in Europe, where consumers were more familiar with the company's name. In the US, too, the company depended on the Swiss reputation for quality to drive sales, but a rival product that cost half as much was leading the market.

"We had to convince the retailers and then ultimately the consumers that there could be a premium-priced bottle in the market," said Steve Wasik, who was hired in 2005 as president of SIGG USA. "My goal was to convince them that this was a premium brand."


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