Much has been said about GAP’s introduction of a new brand -Hill City, many tearing down the move or questioning it. However, I take a different view. I feel GAP has done its homework and is responding to market needs. Here’s why-
Firstly, Fortune’s report says Gap Inc saw an opening for Hill City in the market from the many inquiries it got from its Athleta customers looking for items for the men in their lives. This market – women shopping for men- usually goes untapped and GAP is right in meeting this need. Many couples work out together as it helps them stay motivated, and shopping for workout attire together is a natural behavior.
Further, there are two kinds of athleisure brands – big names such as Nike, Adidas, Lululemon and then niche brands such as Rhone and Fourlaps with their small group of loyal customers but that nobody else has heard of. This causes the market to be highly fragmented, and market share is really arranged according to brand equity. So even if GAP’s HillCity has just launched, it immediately has access to its existing market, has more visibility than many smaller brands which may never see the light of day ( because men (or women) are too busy to search for newer brands) and can ride on it’s brand recognition to push its products harder than its smaller competitors. After all, is HillCity trying to be number 1? I don’t think so. It’s probably trying to bump its sales by selling to a needy segment rather than salvaging a declining namesake brand. They are avoiding their opportunity costs at all costs.
Thus, GAP’s move to start a menswear athleisure brand is not whimsical and its success truly depends what happens here onward.
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