How Black Diamond used expert recommendations to launch their new climbing shoe product line
Black Diamond Equipment is a key player in outdoor and climbing gear, and when they decided to manufacture their own climbing shoe, they knew how critical a successful launch would be to long term success. The climbing shoe market is dominated by a single manufacturer, and climbing aficionados are extremely loyal. Breaking into the market was going to be tough.
- Position Black Diamond as a credible player in climbing shoes
- Successfully launch new climbing shoes through REI
- Give REI associates an exclusive look at the new climbing shoes and the opportunity to join a tester program
- Pick top level REI experts to experience full rock climbing shoe content and try the shoes firsthand
- Capture authentic reviews from REI experts to publish on Black Diamond’s website for shoe launch
- Nearly 1400 expert engagements through product and educational content
- 402 VIP REI experts chosen to try shoes pre-launch
- Unique expert feedback was used to redesign one of the shoes
- A scalable solution
ExpertVoice suggested Black Diamond work exclusively with REI experts — salespeople who know all the ins and outs of the climbing industry and its gear. REI is a key retailer for Black Diamond, and these experts are extremely influential with consumers looking to buy gear. ExpertVoice believed that by giving these experts exclusive access prior to full-market launch, Black Diamond would have the necessary foundation to confidently enter the climbing shoe space.
They first gave REI associates a preview of the new rock climbing shoes, and then invited them to apply for the tester program. After creating buzz around the new shoe launch, Black Diamond picked the top experts to participate in the full program. They received access to educational content, and were given a pair of the shoes to try and review.
What resulted was beyond Black Diamond’s initial expectations. The original program was to include 300 experts, but the number of high caliber applicants (individuals who worked in the department, and who had a high activity level in the sport) far exceeded that number. While some brands might cap the cost of seeding product, Black Diamond saw an incredible opportunity to gain feedback, and happily accepted 402 experts.
Not only did these experts help set the stage for a successful launch, but Black Diamond was even able to take feedback straight to the product team for a redesign of one of the shoes. And upon launch, the reviews these experts provided were posted directly to Black Diamond’s website, ensuring that whether a consumer chose to shop online or in store, they’d have a credible recommendation to guide their purchase choice.
It was really nice to pull the ExpertVoice team in to help with this launch as our team was facing bandwidth constraints at that time. We wouldn't have had the online reviews as well as social discussions if we didn't partner with ExpertVoice. The content enabled us to scale the campaign.
Director of Brand Management, Black Diamond