Client: Wary AviVest | Product: airbag system
“We have a prototype of a consumer product. Now what?” That’s how Sprout’s conversation began with the inventor and outdoor enthusiast who launched the company Avi. The product was a safety vest with an airbag that prevents the person from suffocating in the event of an avalanche. Sprout conducted all market research that drove a highly successful launch of the company and its flagship product.
Avi’s safety vest product had never been seen before in the United States, so Avi had a sweet opportunity at hand. However, the audience was poorly defined: it might include anyone who lives, works or recreates in or near snow. They needed Sprout to help them nail the audience. Avi’s plan also had a hiccup: to deploy the airbag, the product required compressed gas, and Avi had just learned US airlines don’t allow compressed gas on the plane. The marketplace, distribution, launch plan and marketing materials—not to mention how to handle the fact that the part of the product couldn’t be easily transported by many vacationers—would hinge upon Sprout’s research and solution. Avi’s goal was to sell between 250 and 400 vests in a single season to secure investment funding.
Sprout reached out to ski pro shops and search and rescue teams in major winter resort areas, such as Lake Tahoe, as well as winter sport trade magazines. Sprout quickly found that the ideal audience was not skiers and snowboarders, who may not be able to afford the product, but rather snowmobilers, who were more likely to have the financial resources and greater respect for safety.
Regarding the issue of no compressed gas on domestic flights, Sprout came up with a number of solutions. Because many pro shops in resort areas indicated they were interested in offering the device, Sprout suggested creating a device that could refill the bottles, so that they could be filled on-site after arrival, rather than prior to boarding the plane. Sprout also outlined a system through which Avi would rent and ship bottles overnight to any resort in the United States.
Every resort they spoke to said they wanted the vests available in the pro shop to help with liability issues, and ski patrols would use the vests during times of high avalanche risk—serving patrollers security and “advertising” the products available in the pro shop. Sprout designed merchandizing plans for the pro shops, as well as marketing materials to educate consumers in the store. As a result of Sprout’s work, Avi sold 1200 vests in the first season, well over the minimum of 750 vests set by the investor. The company received the funding it needed to grow. After the successful launch, Avi used the model created by Sprout to extend Avi’s product line.