Repreve and Portland Trailblazers attempt to usher in a ‘NewEra

Environmental awareness today is at an all time high. As the public becomes more and more educated on the reality of global warming, pressures continue to mount against the environmentally irresponsible, pollutant heavy manufacturing ways of the past. The overwhelming success of upcoming eco-friendly brands like Patagonia reflects the current consumer demand for a product that meets quality and environmental standards. Today’s customers, younger millennials, grew up in a period of environmental concern and take pride in the involvement of making the Earth a greener place. This desire is fulfilled by choosing to purchase from eco-conscious brands.

Textile brand Unifi is on the forefront of sustainable manufacturing. With a main focus in the performance industry, its main brand Repreve takes recycled plastic bottles and turns them into quality fibers to be used in sustainable fabric products. In an effort to protect the consumer trust, Unifi invested in UTRUST, a FiberPrint technology which analyzes fabrics for FiberPrint signatures to ensure that the products made with Repreve are transparent, traceable, and trustworthy. Since 2009, Repreve has used more than 4 billion recycled plastic bottles and provided fibers for a number of major brands, including Ford, Fossil, Adidas, Polartec, and Patagonia. Last April, Repreve announced a unique partnership with two additional brands, NewEra and the Portland Trailblazers.

In April, NewEra announced that the production of its first ever NBA cap to be produced from recycled material. Produced with the help of Repreve’s recycled fiber, NewEra released an environmentally conscious cap through an exclusive partnership with the Portland Trailblazers. On paper it should help all three brands involved. For NewEra, it is a low risk, high reward proposition. The partnership with Repreve shows that NewEra, a brand already known for innovation, is globally conscious and dedicated to doing its part to reduce waste in manufacturing, and could attract a new wave of customers. For both Repreve and the Portland Trailblazers, name association should have a considerable impact upon consumer trust. The Portland Trailblazers have proven to be an ideal sports franchise for advances in sustainability as they are the most eco-friendly franchises in professional sports. The home of the Trailblazers, the Moda Center was the first professional sports venue to get LEED Gold status in 2010. Furthermore, the franchise was one of the founding members of the Green Sports Alliance, which promotes healthy and sustainable communities through sports and market influences. These factors make Repreve’s partnership with the NBA franchise seem legitimate for all parties involved. However, as is the case with most textile brands, it appears as if NewEra and the Trailblazers have the most to gain from the deal, and Repreve’s brand name is just being taken advantage of.

NewEra/TrailBlazers/Repreve NBA Green Week Promo

Repreve has a marketing problem. The brand does a tremendous job of associating itself within popular and relevant arenas, as evident by its partnership with NewEra, the Portland Trailblazers and their dedicated fanbases. However, unlike the other two brands, Repreve is failing at marketing its own brand name to end consumers. The video linked above is a promo highlighting Repreve’s contribution to NBA Green Week, a week dedicated by the league to encourage sustainability. The high quality video was released on YouTube 2 weeks ago, and has only amassed 5 views total (1 of which was mine). In addition, the brand’s presence on social media is virtually nonexistent, with just over 10 k followers on twitter and basically no interaction with published content or hashtags. The brand is clearly attempting to gain footing in the minds of the avid sports fans, as an ongoing Ultimate Sports Fan Experience Sweepstakes indicates. However, with very little response on Facebook or Twitter, it seems like the effort is coming up short. Improvement is absolutely positive, but the marketing techniques must be altered. Repreve is doing the right thing by attempting to associate itself with successful sports brands, but it must do a better job at convincing the sports fan to care about the sustainable product. This obviously isn’t accomplished through “Ultimate Fan” sweepstakes or lame hashtags. For Repreve to really get the fan to care about what they are offering, they must go directly to the source which are the sports themselves. Once Repreve furthers other partnerships and starts manufacturing necessary sports products like sustainable jerseys or recycled basketballs, or even begins to sponsor athletes, the marketing audience will have to start paying attention.

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