An incoming storm signaled the final day of Quiksilver’s “So. Cal. Wetsuit Demo Days” at Ocean Beach, San Diego. But the foul weather and polluted water didn’t deter local surfers and Quiksilver pros from slapping on the ’05 Cell wetsuit and hitting the lip next to the Ocean Beach Pier.
Visitors to the tour had the chance to surf with Quiksilver’s hottest pros, like Dane Reynolds and Peter Mel, while trying the company’s latest wetsuit models. One Oceanside local said, “I know I can always go try on the suits in a shop but this is a cool way to really check them out. Seeing the pros is cool, too.”
The entire Quiksilver crew was busy all week at Rincon, County Line, Huntington Beach, Oceanside, and Ocean Beach. “Demo”-ing wetsuits was only a part of the program. Autograph-signings and company/retailer relationship-building, a.k.a. partying, filled in the rest of the time on tour.
Vice President of Sales Casey Fleming described the tour as “a way to get down in the trenches to talk to real surfers to see how our product actually works and also to show support to our local retailers.”
Although this type of marketing practice is not a new idea, the grass roots efforts are invaluable in creating a bond between surfer, retailer and company. “Quiksilver has established itself as a high-profile company worldwide,” says Marketing Manager Eddie Anaya, “but we also want to be on the beach so we don’t lose touch with the core surfers. We need that connection.”
Quiksilver intends to utilize the social interactions from this tour. Anaya explains, “We get the feedback here, get it to the design crew, and they apply that to improve the product.”
Eleven-year-old Chris from Ocean Beach doesn’t own a Quiksilver wetsuit, but “(The Cell) blows the one I have away! It’s so warm!” Although Chris’ feedback might not be applied to the ’06 models, his stoke validates Quiksilver’s wetsuit demo program.
Quiksilver team rider Dane Reynolds said, “Although I travel a bunch, these tours a pretty cool.” Team Manager Chad Wells realizes the importance of having guys like Dane out in the lineup. Wells said, “Seeing the pros at their local spots adds validity to the ‘athlete-tested’ concept.”
The proof lies in the hundreds of people who came to the event either to try out the wetsuits or check out the pros. As the clouds started to clear in Ocean Beach, the girls lined up to get Dane’s autograph and Quiksilver continued to grow its roots one surf spot at a time.