It has been quite a while since our last blog post, so I wanted to provide an update on what has been going on with BETTA and what to expect for the upcoming year. By way of excuses, "write blog post" has been on the to-do list for a long time now, but there always seems to be a higher priority at hand. No time like the present, however, and there is a lot to cover, including past surveys, product updates and future plans.
Survey Results from 2017
BETTA Wear Brand Survey Results
Earlier in the year, we sent out a survey to our email list, which is comprised of customers and newsletter subscribers. The purpose of the survey was to assess our audience's impression of our brand, as well as to better understand the audience itself. Rather than detail the full survey results, we selected a few key takeaways.
Importance of BETTA Belt Features
Of six possible choices, the three most important features chosen were:
- Comfortable give (from the elastic)
- Adjustable buckle
- Performance stretch
A third of respondents also chose "Lightweight" and "Non-metallic" as important features.
Changes for Future Belt Versions
The most popular selections for changes to be made for future belt versions were:
- Built-in strap keeper
- More color choices
We are happy to report that our newest generation belts all have built-in strap keepers! Expanding color selection is trickier, since black is by far the most commonly ordered and, for every new color added, it needs to be stocked in six sizes.
Brand Impression and Identification
This section was inspiring in that the responses were overwhelmingly positive and indicated that the BETTA brand conveys the impression of being "cool" and "performance-oriented." Furthermore, our audience identified with these two brands most closely from the selection set: The North Face and Columbia. Not bad examples to aspire to!
New Belt Buckle Survey Results
In August, we sent out a brief survey to solicit feedback on our proprietary belt buckles to aid with future updates. The survey only had two questions and one comments section, and there were over a hundred responses.
Branding on Belt Buckle
The goal of this question was to understand what branding, if any, customers wanted to appear on the belt buckle. The top choice, with one-third of the votes, was blank. Second was the new, "Circle B" logo (letter B within circle), like the smaller buckle has now. A close third was the "BETTA" logo, as currently used on the 1.5" buckle. Last was no preference.
While it is understandable that some people forgo logos when possible, there are other factors that also come into play. First, the presence of a logo helps to protect our intellectual property, since it takes considerable time and expense to develop an improved buckle design and bring it to market. Second, branding helps to differentiate BETTA products from the many generic, run-of the-mill belts out there using inferior quality buckles.
The compromise then was to minimize the branding without eliminating it completely. Going forward, that will be accomplished by using the Circle B logo on the big buckle. This achieves the best of both worlds, protecting our brand and products while making the logo less conspicuous. This will also align with the branding already used for the 1.25" belt buckles. We are in the process of updating the injection molds and will be transitioning to the new 1.5" buckles for future belt generations.
The Slot on the Buckle Face
This was a more obscure question to see what customers thought about the cutaway section on the face of the buckle that allows the top panel to recline out of the way when open. We've found that it does improve the functionality of the belt, making the buckle more difficult to break when the top panel is open, and making it easier to tighten the belt when pulling the strap back against the buckle without the top panel sticking straight out.
The key takeaway here was that the vast majority of customers either felt the feature was helpful or at least did not take away from the buckle's appearance. Some respondents weren't sure what we were talking about, and only a small minority felt the feature was a hindrance.
BETTA Plans for 2018
As mentioned, the 1.5" buckle is being updated with the Circle B logo. Our next generation of 1.5" Black Elastic Belts will feature the new buckle. We are also making some tweaks to the 1.25" buckle, so that the strap slides through the buckle more easily, but that generation will not be ready until later in 2018. We have a few new belt styles under development, including one with a side release buckle. More details to come as things progress.
One thing to note is that BETTA Wear is now a brand under BETTA GOODS LLC, a limited liability corporation. BETTA GOODS produces a few items that don't really fit under the BETTA Wear brand, and so are marketed separately or sold exclusively on Amazon. One such item is a wetsuit changing mat, which is used by water sports enthusiasts to change out of wetsuits and as a dry bag. A new product marketed under a different brand is the Baboho baby bottle holder, an invention that makes bottle feeding an infant easier.
Aside from the switch to an LLC, which makes for a mound of paperwork and additional accounting and legal requirements, BETTA is still a small business with big aspirations. Our goal is to double growth this year, which would open the door to more opportunities. For example, we are hoping to partner with a charitable organization like the National Park Foundation, so we can donate a portion of our proceeds to preserve public lands for all to enjoy for generations to come.
We intend to achieve this growth by redoubling efforts to promote our products in cost-effective ways. BETTA is investing in more professional photography, so there will be more engaging lifestyle imagery to better convey our brand and products. We are going to update our website to make the design more modern and aesthetically appealing. We plan on holding more contests and interactive activities on social media. And finally, we will continue to reward you, our loyal customers, with discounts and other promotions for joining us along the ride.