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Fall 1998: Swiss Army Brands Strives To Maintain Loyal Online Following

Establishing brand name recognition is obviously a significant goal for any company that creates a Web site. Fortunately for Shelton, CT-based Swiss Army Brands, this particular hurdle was overcome decades ago, when the word 'Web,' still conjured up images of a spider's lair.

In fact, Jeff Turner, Swiss Army Brands' vice president-marketing, indicates that name brand recognition of the company's flagship Victorinox ® Original Swiss Army tm Knife is over 90 percent for consumers nationwide. But the company also churns out popular lines of Victorinox watches, Swiss Army ® Brand Timepieces, sunglasses and writing instruments, so launching a Web site ( last year seemed to be a logical way to spread the word worldwide about its diversified product line.

Initially admits Turner, the Web site, designed and maintained by Summit Projects, Hood River, OR, was viewed internally as a simple information tool for the company's Swiss Army ® Brand Sunglasses and the company didn't market the site very effectively. But Swiss Army Brands soon found that consumers began visiting the site in droves and quickly realized they needed to provide more information and make it more user friendly.

Today, the Swiss Army Brands Web site draws over 700,000 hits each month. User sessions continue to grow-August 1998 figures for example, totaled 35,627. Turner says although the company doesn't utilize banner advertising to draw customers, the Web site is registered with numerous domestic and international search engines and simply hitting keywords such as 'Swiss Army,' 'Swiss Army Brands,' 'Swiss Army Knife,' will link viewers to the site.

"Our site encompasses both retail and consumer products and not only gives consumers a chance to view the products, but provides them with detailed information they'll need to make an informed purchase," Turner says. "We appeal to a very broad audience-they're not just 'Generation X'ers' or babyboomers. We target products to people who are living active lifestyles."

Go to the Swiss Army ® Brand Sunglasses section, for instance, and you'll view a wide array of available models. Icons entitled, 'Consumer Guide to Buying Sunglasses,' 'Summer Sunglass Guide,' and 'Winter Sunglass Guide,' provide customers with a plethora of information, tips and ideas. Other sections provide fingertip facts and figures. The site has an 'Original Swiss Army tm Knife Catalog that helps consumers find a certain type of knife or design a custom-made version. You can also select a knife by category, e.g., Home/Office; Sports; Outdoors; and Travel.

A 'Shopping Cart' section allows customers to choose the product line they are interested in by clicking various navigation bar icons. They find the items, click 'Checkout', confirm the order, choose a method of payment and submit the order, which is confirmed via e-mail. Turner says that all e-commerce currently transacted on the site is done through a retailer that the consumer must select, with the exception of sales of replacement accessories such as toothpicks and tweezers.

Lastly, a 'Dealer Search & Links' provides customers with handy retailer names, addresses and phone numbers. Although Turner adds that visitors stay an average of 10 minutes, the company is cognizant that they need to constantly be creative in order to increase traffic and maintain customer loyalty. Last summer, for example, Swiss Army Brands ran online point-of-sale promos tied in to the movie "Armageddon" and a "Treasure Hunt Sweepstakes."

The contests helped increase traffic by about 25 percent, according to Turner. "Over the next few months you'll see more content partnerships designed to support the positioning of brands," he says. "We want to bring visitors back to our site on a regular basis and the only way to do this is to be innovative."

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