Ugg targets men as new consumers

Quarterback Tom Brady was named the new face of Uggs last month.

by Jennifer Bissell

After 12 consecutive years of double-digit sales growth, Ugg Australia is shifting the marketing of its famous fuzzy boots to a less-than-likely market: men.
New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady  became the new face of the popular footwear late last month in UggâÄôs effort to widen its consumer base.
Herds of women at the University of Minnesota campus have flocked to the brand, but the question remains: Will University men embrace Uggs in the same way?
University retail merchandising professor Kim Johnson  said that while she recognizes the power of celebrity endorsements, she doubts this one would persuade many consumers.
âÄúPerhaps [it would work] for some guys who are football fans that recognize who Tom Brady is,âÄù Johnson said, âÄúbut thereâÄôs all this âÄòif.âÄô You have to see the advertisement. You have to like Tom Brady. ItâÄôs like all these things have to line up in a row.âÄù
William Hardy, who graduated from the University a year ago, said heâÄôd need to see the boots first, but would consider buying a pair.
âÄúIf they were like Timberland boots, then sure, of course I would,âÄù Hardy said. âÄúâÄôCause youâÄôre gonna get the comfort of the Uggs but youâÄôre gonna get the look that you get in the more manlier look.âÄù
Hardy said he already owns a pair of Ugg slippers, which he purchased immediately after trying.
âÄúThey were the most comfortable slippers, boots, whatever you like to call them, IâÄôve ever put my foot in,âÄù he said.
University sophomore Corey Miller, on the other hand, said he probably wouldnâÄôt buy a pair of Uggs because of their cost and the type of girl he associates with them. The average pair of Ugg boots for men costs $200.
âÄúI feel like I could get a sweet pair of boots for like $20,âÄù Miller said. âÄúI feel like that sounds extremely unnecessary.âÄù
âÄúI would feel extremely sill to the 13th power of silly,âÄù he said with a laugh. âÄúIf thatâÄôs even possible.âÄù
Johnson said itâÄôs unusual for men to adopt womenâÄôs fashion, though it is not uncommon for the opposite to happen.
âÄúIn the United States thereâÄôs sort of a gender differenceâÄù she said. âÄúI think that weâÄôre still not perceived necessarily equal to men, and so I think if you adopt things associated with a lower status youâÄôre kind of âÄògoing the wrong direction.âÄôâÄù
Aneesha Sethi,  a University senior and president of the FAB: Fashion & Business student group, agreed that gender roles can play a role in fashion.
âÄúI think that women pick up a lot more male trends,âÄù Sethi said. âÄúLike the tuxedo look or the pleated pants. But we wear it in a more streamlined way.âÄù
After viewing some of the Ugg boot selections for men, Sethi said the boots didnâÄôt look as feminine as she had originally imagined.
 âÄúTheyâÄôre very rugged but sleek at the same time,âÄù she said. âÄúI donâÄôt think a lot of men will adopt it because they are pricey, but definitely the more style-conscious ones would wear that.âÄù
For each of the last 12 years, UggâÄôs brand sales have seen double-digit growth. In 2009 the brand grossed $711.8 million, which was a 22.3 percent increase in revenue over 2008.
On Dec. 1, the day after BradyâÄôs involvement in the campaign was announced, the brandâÄôs stock jumped 2.7 percent. As of Monday afternoon, the stock had risen a total of 5 percent since the original spike.
âÄúThis partnership marks a new season for Ugg Australia and Tom Brady is the ideal first endorser for the brand,âÄù Chairman and CEO Angel Martinez said in a statement.
At the Journeys shoe store in the Mall of America, in Bloomington, Minn., menâÄôs Uggs have been selling increasingly well, assistant manager Eric Musols said.
Within the last year the store has started to sell more menâÄôs styles of Ugg boots and shoes.
âÄúDemand keeps getting higher for it, so theyâÄôve been starting to send more and more stock,âÄù Musols said. âÄúItâÄôs starting to get really popular among men now.âÄù