What could be a product image, product name, and what could set my product apart from the competition, and why might someone buy my product? This is for a  sporting goods retail store business I'm thinking of starting. Also, what is a brand, brand personality, and brand name?  

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This assignment -- devise a marketing plan for a fictitious sporting goods store to be opened by the student -- requires some imagination on the part of the student and not reliance on the ideas of others. A sporting goods store is not a particularly complicated business for such an academic exercise, as many such businesses do exist and each has its own imagery and marketing strategy. Sports Authority, Dick's, Scheel's, and Cabela's are just a handful of the larger, national chains of sporting goods that provide useful examples for study. They all market themselves as 'one-stop' retailers for 'all your sporting needs,' yet each has its own identity. When contemplating a hypothetical entrant into this particular market, then, one can observe the oft-times limited distinctions between different chains, but also the design and marketing tactics that set them apart from each other. One decision that the student needs to make at the outset, however, is whether his or her hypothetical business will be all-encompassing like those large retailers, or more specialized, such as a sporting goods store that specializes in a smaller number sports, like hockey, football, baseball and basketball, but not camping, skiing, rock climbing, tennis, and so on. Indeed, the business could focus merely on one activity, like bicycling, as numerous bicycle stores exist, specializing in different manufacturers of bicycles as well as bicycle parts and associated paraphernalia like biking shorts and jerseys. In short, the student should begin by devising parameters for his or her business, whether leaning towards the larger operations or the smaller, more limited ones.

Coming up with a brand name is something for the student to work through, as the name should reflect that individual's preferences and tastes. A brand name, however, could come directly from the student's own name, or from the name of a favorite relative or friend, such as Mike's Bicycle Shop or Gene's Sporting Goods. A caricature of Mike or Gene could be incorporated into the brand, or images of sporting equipment, like balls, rackets, etc.  As far as the issue of why somebody would purchase your product over your competition's, that's a matter of marketing. You are selling yourself and your product, and marketing towards the desired clientele, which obviously includes serious athletes, but casual ones as well. The range of products would normally run from inexpensive to very expensive, with the consumer purchasing according to his or her seriousness with respect to athletic achievement. Common draws for consumers include wider selection and lower prices, but more serious athletes, whether runners, tennis players, hockey players, etc., will be drawn by the availability of higher quality, and consequently more expensive, equipment.

Why would someone buy your product? Because you have convinced him or her that your product offers the best value; in other words, the item represents the highest quality for the best price attainable. You might hire prominent figures from the world of sports to endorse your product, as many consumers are gullible enough to be persuaded by such endorsements. Nike struck gold when it signed a contract with basketball superstar Michael Jordan, as well as when it signed one-time golfing phenom Tiger Woods. Nike products weren't necessarily better than those of Adidas, New Balance or other companies, but the endorsements of such famous athletes carried a lot of weight with millions of consumers. In fact, under such circumstances, higher price actually served as an enticement for consumers, as Nike's Air Jordans developed a cachet all their own, and their high price actually added to their mystique.

These are just a few factors to consider when contemplating a hypothetical sporting goods business. Ultimately, as noted, assignments such as this require the efforts of the individual student, as such efforts invariably reflect each student's personality to greater or lesser degrees.  

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