Mi Ola Rides the Marketing Wave

 Helena Fogarty got the idea for her start-up bikini manufacturing firm, Mi Ola (“My Wave”), when she learned to surf while on vacation from her fast-paced, New York City fashion career. As much as she enjoyed the fun of Iiding a wave, she was frustrated with the fit and durability of her swimwear. Based on her experience, Fogarty identified a profitable opportunity to make a business splash with a new line of colmful bikini tops and bottoms designed to look good and to stay in place, in and out of the surf. Once she founded Mi Ola, Fogarty selected as her target market the segment of women who are active in water spo1ts and seek the benefits of chic swimwear that fits, wears well wash after wash, and protects the skin. For added appeal and differentiation, she decided to manufacture her bikinis domestically and market them as “made in America.” Fogarty recognized that her brand was new and unknown, so she planned to use social media and public relations to build awareness and attract the attention of retailers and customers alike. Facebook and Twitter were only the start-she also recognized that the visual qualities of Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube would help convey her brand's unique image of fashion and function. In addition to distributing through traditional retailers, Fogarty wanted to reach her target market directly through e-commerce. Rather than pay models to wear her bikinis, the entrepreneur sought out actual surfers as brand ambassadors and product testers-and asked them for their candid feedback about improving Mi Ola swimwear. Because Fogruty had worked with top style brands such as Chanel, she understood that the fashion world revolves around the introduction of seasonal clothing collections. To be competitive, she would need to have her products ready during the periods when store buyers typically review new colJections and place orders. This meant establishing a strict schedule for each step in her mru'keting plan, from design to production to distribution and communication. She had to make difficult decisions about how many pieces of each design, in each color and each size, she would pay to manufacture. Her objective was to meet projected demand without having an ocean of unsold inventory left at the end of the season.

Based on several years of introducing multiple swimwear collections, Fogarty has now gained valuable experience with the entire cycle of marketing strategy, planning, implementation, and evaluation. She has a keener sense of how to manage the marketing mix and coordinate marketing activities with all other functions of her growing firm. Each year, she increases the number of styles she offers, and expands fabric color and pattern choices to reflect the latest fashion trends, aiming to encourage repeat purchases by current customers while also blinging in first-time buyers. Despite feeling some pressure to plan for dramatically higher revenue and sales volume as the business grows, the entrepreneur remains realistic about assessing her resources and opportunities. She keeps a close eye on costs and sales results so she can adjust her marketing plan frequently to account for changes in cu'stomer buying habits, competition, and other factors that can affect Mi Ola's marketing peiformance.

 Questions for Discussion

 1. How would you describe Mi Ola's strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats?

 2. Does Mi Ola have a first-mover or late-mover advantage? Explain your answer.

 3. Helena Fogarty talks about being ready to adjust her marketing plan frequently. Should she focus more on possible adjustments to strategy, objectives, implementation, or some combination of these three?

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