How to build presence for your unique product
Steven O'Neill and Kirsten Giles are the founders of Kick Scoot UK, a business selling different types of scooter - including dog scooters, harnessed to large dogs such as huskies in order to propel the rider along. This is known as 'urban mushing', and is a great way way for larger dogs to get the exercise they need (as well as a fun bonding activity for dog and human alike!) However, while it's a sport that's really taken off in other countries, urban mushing is still not widely known in the UK. We asked a few questions about how you can establish a market for a unique product, and how to build its presence.
What made you decide to bring mushing scooters to the UK?
After purchasing a Kostka scooter whilst living in Australia, we were instantly hooked. They look amazing, and perform even better. There is no better, safer or more fun way to give you and your dog the exercise he/she needs without being let off-lead.
Upon our return to the UK we found our scooter to be far superior to the current models being used, and this did not stop at mushing. Behavioural problems can be a huge problem in dog rescue centres, and we find dogscootering is a simple way to exercise your pet dog that has a positive impact on the overall behaviour of your dog at home. Therefore we set out on our mission to improve the general well-being of dogs through exercise.
With such a unique product, how did you find out if there was a demand for it and do your market research?
Having a Siberian husky as a pet can be very demanding; their high energy levels are a problem for many people. We knew locally that there was a huge problem in rescue centres with northern breeds in general. A husky needs at least two hours a day walking, and in our busy lives this often just isn’t possible. With a scooter it can take less than half that time and your dog will be happier for it, helping to resolve many behavioural issues.
We also talked and listened to the general public. Whilst out on our own scooter we would be stopped many times and asked about the scooter, and always got great feedback - this gave us the confidence to set out in business.
How have you built up a customer base and awareness of your products?
We are building a great customer base through social groups and social media, beginning with our mushing and dog-scooters as we knew they would be the most in demand models from our range. We then used this exposure to test the market for our other models such as children’s scooters, racing scooters, disability/rehabilitation scooters, general use scooters, and extreme downhill scooters.
We also donated ten scooters to the British Triathlon Foundation Trust for their ‘Tata Kids of Steel’ events. We now work closely with them and look forward to teaming up to hold Scootathons all over the UK in the coming years.
How have you found the reception to your scooters?
The reaction we have received from the public has been nothing short of amazing and given us the confidence to invest in the future of the kick scooter industry in the UK.
Do you educate people on mushing scooters or do any events?
We educate people and train their dogs through our local social group ‘SX Mushers’ on Facebook. We hold beginner meets, fun meets and also night runs for the more adventurous, as well as a free try before you buy at all of our shows. We attend shows including the Country and Game Show, the Telegraph Outdoor Travel and Leisure Show, Braintree carnival, Scootathon, Bark in the Park, and many more.
Is there a growing mushing scene in the UK? How does it compare to other countries?
The UK mushing industry is growing rapidly, with semi-competitive events becoming very popular all over the country. In past years most of these events have been limited to the North of the UK or Scotland as they like to use rigs and sleds (when there is snow). But with the advances in the quality of scooters they have fast become the most popular way of mushing, and there's no snow needed. That said, our largest customer base will be general dog walkers rather than competitive mushers. The industry is growing across the globe with semi-competitive events and general dog owners finding this the safest and most fun way of running with your pet dog.
Any other tips for people looking to introduce an unusual or new product to market?
Research your market, get as many people’s opinion’s as possible, even ask friends and family for their honest opinion on your business idea/product. If the above looks good, my main tip would be to go for it – if you don’t, someone else will! Everyone makes mistakes, but at least you won’t regret it.
And then once you've taken the step: exposure, exposure, exposure. Seeing your product or service online and in magazines is great, but there's no substitute for physically seeing and touch and experiencing the product (or in our case, riding it!) We found there is no better way to get sales than to get people face to face with the product.