I first wrote about Zumba, a funky Latin workout, almost a year ago. In that post, I talked about the challenges that any services organization can encounter in its attempt to build a funky brand. The main challenge for Zumba, I said, was to ensure that its main customer touch points (places and ways in which people experience the brand) remain consistent. Which seems like a big task given millions of Zumba-like, or Zumba-inspired, courses currently offered around the world by external fitness instructors. Since then, I've taken several Zumba classes myself -- and not only out of my desire to do non-stop funky brand research! :) I also wanted to ditch the workout, and join the party. ((Zumba's brand slogan)). My personal observation is that many of these classes had very little Latin about them, featuring non-Latin music, and non-Latin dance moves.
In other words, my own Zumba experiences have been patchy, and differed from one place and instructor to another.
Perhaps Zumba management (to learn more about the company, see an article about Zumba's founder Alberto Perlman published by Sprouter) decided that keeping the brand consistent throughout its customer touch points was a difficult task to carry out. Perhaps they thought that it would be a good idea to build the brand by selling Zumba merchandise not only online, but also in real life.
In any case, I am not familiar with Zumba's selected strategy, but here are a couple of observations.
I came across Zumba-branded merchandise on the shelves of Di a couple of days ago. Di is a Belgian chain of shops that sell inexpensive cosmetics and home cleaning products. Di has also been expanding its health and wellness section by adding vitamins, food supplements, and slimming shape-wear. This section is where I spotted sizable Zumba-branded boxes, sold at retail price of Euro 69.95 per piece (pictured above). They were placed on a shelf underneath a TV screen that featured a demonstration of a Zumba workout, with the message "as seen on TEK TV " ((a Belgian TV store)) running across the screen.
Each box contained 4 Zumba workout DVDs, as well as a set of small weights. The packaging displayed a TEK TV logo.
What are the implications of this on Zumba's brand?
First of all, the importance of selecting appropriate distribution channels is crucial for building a strong brand. Even though the idea of selling Zumba-branded merchandise seems attractive ((at least on the local market, it could be a way of tapping into existing awareness about the brand name that has been created through workout courses, whether "real" or not)) per se, where it is sold, is of even major importance!
What strikes me as quite inconsistent with what could be a very funky brand, is the association of Zumba with a TV shop. I don't personally know very many funky brands that have been built through this not-so-funky distribution channel (but if you know, please submit a comment!)
I would question whether TV shops can reach the kinds of customers Zumba needs to be reaching. I saw lots of professional women "ditching the workout, and joining the party" after office hours. Which means that they probably don't have the time to watch TV shop sales sessions during the day. I suspect that an additional endorsement of a product by a TV shop means little to them.
Selling Zumba merchandise at a rather unexciting Di (think of it as an equivalent of the UK Boots, but with a somewhat duller product selection) would not be my top choice either.
To conclude, Zumba would be much better off building a funky brand through better selected and more exciting distribution channels.